Staff Writer Peter McMurray’s take on romantic comedies and reality
It’s that time of year once more when the heart-shaped chocolates appear and many lovers have the opportunity to show their affection through a vast array of romantic presents and elegant dinners. Many of us, whether in a relationship or not, often watch a surplus of romantic comedies to complement this season of the year.
However, it’s entirely possible that there might be danger in watching too many romance films, especially the ones from the last decade or so.
Back in 2008, Eben Harrell wrote an article for Time Magazine in which he discussed a few recent studies that had investigated the possibility of misguided expectations in relationships due to idealistic portrayals of love in Hollywood. Most of the research showed that couples who had an early and vast amount of exposure to romantic comedies were more easily disappointed in their own romantic relationships and had more unrealistic expectations.
If you think about it, this is not a radical idea. Most romantic films make love look like something that is simple and in a lot of cases, selfish. They take something so crazy and stick it into a formula: boy meets girl, they hit it off (sometimes not right away, but eventually), cut to a montage of the couple doing cute things together while a Kelly Clarkson song plays, the guy does something stupid, the girl leaves, the guy chases after her, then they end up living happily ever after. Or in some movies, the protagonist realizes they were in love with their best friend the whole time. This doesn’t sum up all romantic comedies, but a vast majority of them have a similar plotline.
Love, by the Hollywood definition, is just a feeling. But love is so much greater than that. It’s a verb; it’s a state of being; it’s complicated, messy, and cannot fit into a simple formula. When people are exposed time and time again to this formula, they often start to expect this formula – whether consciously or subconsciously.
The unfortunate reality is that so long as humans are involved, there will never be a completely real-life romantic comedy.
Now I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but I thought it best to warn you. The good news is that I have made a list of a few films that keep with the romantic theme but may not build unrealistic expectations:
Realistic Romantic Comedies:
- Joe Versus the Volcano
- (500) Days of Summer
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- Benny & Joon
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- Beauty and the Beast
- Pride and Prejudice
- While You Were Sleeping
- His Girl Friday
- Edward Scissorhands
- The Last of the Mohicans
- Groundhog Day
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Walk the Line
So if your plans for Valentine’s Day include kicking back and throwing on a movie, feel free to use one (or many) of these films. I hope you have a wonderful holiday and remember to beware the rom-com.