My favourite movie genre is the romantic comedy. I’m unashamedly hooked on the romance and cheesiness that can ensue when boy meets girl. No matter how many I see, I always want more. But what’s happened to all the rom coms?
by Jamie Campbell
I recently saw Silver Linings Playbook, which I heard described as the new romantic comedy. Except it wasn’t a comedy at all, the rom com was now the rom drama. And apparently it was here to stay.
The same elements were there: boy and girl meet in an awkward situation, they slowly realise they can’t take another breath without each other, something happens to tear them apart, and then at the last moment they live happily ever after. The formula was there, just not the cheesiness. So it’s wasn’t really my beloved rom com.
Next, I saw Safe Haven. From the trailers, I knew I would get romance, but what about the comedy? Nope, turns out I just got the drama (which I should have expected from a Nicholas Sparks story, really). It was overloaded with the sweet anticipation of love, but it dealt with the serious undertones of domestic violence and the death of a spouse. A great story, with a good twist, and definitely worth seeing anyway, but it wasn’t my rom com.
The rom com was now the rom drama
So I pored over the movie line up, wondering where I could get lost in a funny love story and was sadly disappointed. It seems a rom com has to come in the form of an ensemble comedy these days (I’m looking forward to seeing I Give it a Year and perhaps Goddess will be good too).
Where for art thou romantic comedies? Has the genre that gave us Ten Things I hate About You, French Kiss, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, and anything with Jennifer Aniston, gone? Died? I certainly hope not.
I love to write rom coms, I have a whole folder of the things begging to see the light of day. I love the way the story of two human beings finding each other in a world full of people and coming together can completely capture you for an hour and a half. Getting lost in their story and forgetting about my own is what I live for.
Getting lost in their story and forgetting about my own is what I live for.
But I think there is an opportunity here with the shifting from rom coms to rom dramas. Silver Linings Playbook brilliantly wove the story of romance into the very serious topic of mental illness. It brought something unique to the love story, it emphasised how special their bond was – how much they had to embrace differences in order to love one another. It creates more of an emotional impact with the audience and lingers after the movie has ended. And isn’t that what we strive for?
Perhaps by putting more of an emphasis on the drama, we can implore our audience to emotionally connect better with our characters and invest more of their time really cheering for our lead. Instead of a rom com being just a fun story, it can mean something more.
And if we can get the mix right, like Silver Linings Playbook did, our movies can reach the same heights as other genres instead of being relegated to the fluffy section (How many rom coms have won Oscar’s?).
Does this mean I have to ditch all my scripts and rewrite them as dramas? I hope not, I’d like to think there is still room for rom coms. Perhaps it isn’t the trend right now, but like flares, they’ll come back into style. Until then, I’m going to have fun exploring all the drama I can throw into one story. Watch out Nicholas Sparks, I’m coming to gettcha.
[box]Jamie Campbell is an author, screenwriter, and television addict.
Jamie is proud to be an Editor for The Story Department.
Her latest spine-tingling thriller Gifted is out now. [/box]
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