Best romantic comedies of note released recently: Palm Springs, Plus One, and more
In all fairness, originality doesn't rank high on my list of priorities when I'm looking at rom-coms. Call me an outlier, but I find that my enjoyment levels are directly proportional to a) the attractiveness of the cast; b) prevalent chemistry between the leads; and c) a pleasant ending that feels comfortable rather than contrived. Could I care less that this is the 600th movie I've watched featuring Diane Keaton as a go-getting career woman who, while isn't looking for love, finds it? No. Not really, dear reader. Especially not considering one of her love interests is Keanu Reeves.
And yet, I've been noticing a couple of movies recently that have achieved the impossible: that is, met my stringent criteria above while being, well, actually engaging. The script lacks cheesy one-liners and trite platitudes about love, there's an actual plot going on beyond the main character's romantic exploits, and an accurate portrayal of messy modern relationships. It's a novel feeling. Heck, at this point, it's downright miraculous. So, without further ado, I present to you the five chick flicks that broke the norm for yours truly. Stream 'em, ASAP.
It's nice to see Andy Samberg out of his Brooklyn 99 get-up, as it is to see Cristin Milioti stretch her acting chops beyond TV roles in the vein of How I Met Your Mother and The Mindy Project. The pair play two strangers who meet at a wedding in Palm Springs. The catch: they both get stuck in a confusing time loop that no amount of righting their wrongs seem to break. Undeniable chemistry aside, a large part of what makes this movie enjoyable is its irreverent take on beloved romantic tropes. Trust us: the bitter wedding speech cliché takes on a whole new meaning in this one.
Yes, it's another movie that centres around weddings. Still, Plus One shines in its razor-sharp script and amazingly realistic depiction of platonic friendships. Never has there been a film that so convincingly displays how camaraderie and care can bloom into an attraction and something beyond. Props to Maya Erskine, who delivered such a charming and stellar performance that I spent an entire afternoon combing through — and watching — her filmography after.
The Big Sick
I knew I was going to like this one on account of Kumail Nanjiani's involvement. The revered stand-up comedian wrote the script and based it loosely upon how he met his wife. It follows lead, Kumail (ha), as a struggling stand-up comedian who falls in love with an American woman, Emily (Kazan). Complications arise in part due to their interethnic relationship, and also thanks to a lung infection that forces Emily into a coma. What comes next is sweet and sincere in its delivery without veering into saccharine territory; a rare breed that we'll remember for years on end.
Finally, a movie that addresses the phenomenon of ambitious, talented, and (objectively) gorgeous women settling for men that are just... meh. In the Long Shot's case, it has less to do with settling than it is falling for someone's personality and character fully, but still. It's enjoyable how the film not just acknowledges it but pokes fun at the occurrence, with Rogen's enactment of a lovable, self-deprecating writer coming off charismatic rather than skeevy. A fine line to toe, but he's done it.
Add this to another one of Judd Apatow's hits. Amy Schumer plays, well, Amy, a commitment-phobic magazine writer who has the misfortune of meeting Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports doctor who actually seems to like her. Hijinks and shenanigans ensue, one most notably featuring John Cena and Tilda Swinton. I mostly enjoyed the fact that it was a girl, this time, who got to be a full-on f*ck-up about love and still emerge with her love interest intact. That's equality, okay?