Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hope Awakened; or, “You’re cheating on a vegetable!”

I’ll admit it: I had given up on chick flicks. Let’s be honest, now, just how many good romantic comedies have been made? I said honest!

As an over generalization, no one is honest about these films. Chicks tend to give all such flicks a free pass (thus dubbing the films), and guys tend to have made up their collective mind even as the title is told to them. Shameless. Let’s have none of that, shall we?

I am a male, but I have no qualms about this list: Pride and Prejudice [1995], Sense and Sensibility [1995], and You’ve Got Mail [1997] are fantastic examples of what cinema should be. Some have argued that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [2004] is a chick flick, and if they are correct it is also a darn good one, if one that more guys are likely to finish watching than girls. As long as we are blurring the lines, Fiddler on the Roof [1971] seems to have a significantly larger fanbase among the female of the species, and is probably the best film ever made.

So, you see? I was a believer. I honestly enjoyed these films. But all good things must some to end, as they did to some extent when my female friends learned of my strangely inclusive tastes and began recommending other “great” movies. Julia Roberts, I know you (having appeared in some fine movies of other genre) must have made some good chick flicks in your time, I just can’t think of any. With the exception of say, Sabrina [1954 & 1995], I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen a good romantic comedy upon an actual recommendation from an actual chick. But even this was not enough to snuff the spark of hope completely. No, that was reserved for a little ditty entitled...

Sleepless in Seattle [1993]. Ugh. What can I say? It is utter tripe, entirely lacking in the depth, imagination, genuineness and ingenuity, humor and heartfeltness of what many consider it’s heir, You’ve Got Mail. If even the name of Ephron, so conspicuously attached to second film, does not ensure quality in a romantic flicker, nothing can.

But hope can be restored and faith regained. As I have seen. While You Were Sleeping [1995] is that reformation.

The TV ads from way back when it was released stuck in my head. I’ll admit to not having been particularly impressed, but the images were memorable and the periodic references I crossed over the years put this film somewhere on my to-watch list. Albeit not very high up.

Well, with a string of “guy movies” in my recent viewing (and the failed attempt to pass Cinderella Man [2005] off as a chick flick), I knew I had to add something feminine to the roster as an appeasement to she-who-so-often-watches-films-with-MortI. So, with low expectations, I rented While you Were Sleeping to balance out an action piece.

What I found was very surprising. O.K, it does not have the richness of character that a loyal adaptation of Jane Austen boasts, nor the profundity of Nora’s Ode to AOL. But it may well qualify as supreme comedy-of-errors, not to mention one of the best screwball comedies.

Sandra Bullock’s character (supposedly, I shudder to think, intended for Demi Moore at one point) is a lonely (yes, that is hard to believe) CTA worker, a young spinster-in-the-making complete with cat. But when she saves her would-be fiancé’s life (she’s never actually spoken to the man) her shy nature and his family’s (the late great “Frank Barone” is daddy Ox) flamboyant one plunge her into a soap-opera storyline of which she could have only dreamt. My no-spoiler ethics prevent my saying anything more (though advertisers had no such qualms at the time), but I promise the film is far more hilarious than the above can possibly convey.

To recap, if you’re a chick you’ve probably already seen it. Good for you. If you’re guy, don’t hesitate. And don’t let that lip stray from straight with anything but joyous laughter: there is hope for a night of popcorn and movies with the better half, and this is it.


Rikki said...

Ok Chris as you have prior requested I checked your web site out. Even though I don't agree with some parts you had some great point of views. I loved some of the chick flicks you mentioned. But Like you said I am a chick and its always better for the girls. There are a couple movies I would recomend you seeing though if you are into some chick flicks.

M. Randolph said...

Sure thing; I'd be happy to discuss the titles you have in mind! But... why do you call me Chris?