Okay you know lists are going to be popping up all over the place giving you tips for cinematic romance--and I'm all for that, really I am--but I thought I'd break out of the mold a bit and give you my top romantic films that missed the mark. You know, the ones that were supposed to be romantic but for whatever reason (and you can bet I'll be giving you plenty) they just didn't do it for me.
Feel free to disagree, some of these are terribly popular so I know there will be some arguments over my choices but that's okay--take your best shot. That's what I'm here for. We Alaskans are tough I tell you.
1. Pocahontas. I'll put this one first because it wasn't really marketed as a romance, but the whole thing between John Smith and Pocahontas didn't work for me. Maybe it's because in reality she was a child, was held for ransom and eventually died of tuberculosis or some other disease at the age of 22. Not really the basis for a romance. Maybe I'm too picky--or just old-fashioned. I prefer my Disney cartoon characters not to be on top of one another.
2. Entrapment. But even if you're okay with the Pocahontas-Smith age difference this thriller with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery was just creepy. He's old enough to be her grandfather and I don't care if he is Sean Connery, when the leading man's close-ups show liver spots you know it's time for a different role.
3. Sliding Doors. I'd heard from several people how good this movie was so we put it in our Netflix queue and watched it the other night. Is it just me or was this just so . . . so . . . so NOT romantic? Gwyneth Paltrow goes from one dumpy guy to the next and every female in the show gets pregnant--by anyone with an X and Y chromosome who happens to be wandering by. I don't care if the Scottish guy was getting a divorce, he was still married when they got together and he didn't tell her--seems pretty rotten to me. Not much of an improvement from her first guy. Too rotten to be romantic.
4. Ghost. Okay I admit that at first I liked this movie but then as I got older and realized what love really is it no longer appealed to me. Sure you can be in a relationship and love someone like Patrick and Demi did but it would have been much more romantic if they'd been married. Commit to someone and have children and face challenges together and then you know what love is--it would have been better if they'd been married rather than boyfriend-girlfriend. Maybe that's why I liked Cinderella Man and thought that it was so romantic--real commitment.
5. Somewhere in Time. Oh this one makes all the lists of romance movies and though I loved Jane Seymour I have two gripes: 1. A sad ending. I don't buy the "oh let's find each other when we're 80 years old and then we can die and finally be together" thing. Nope, not satisfactory, it was great until that point and then 2. they ruin it with sleeping together. In period movies (and this one really is a period movie) the romance is heightened by sexual tension and the unfulfilled desires, by brilliant dialog that conveys much more than the surface indicates. Think Pride and Prejudice. But this one just felt like a regular old modern story masquerading as a romance--but feel free to tell me I'm wrong on this--and I was never really a Christopher Reeves fan I guess, he always seemed rather flat.
6. Pretty Woman. I'm sorry, you just can't have a true romance with a prostitute. Nope, not going to work. Maybe it's because I'm envisioning all the diseases she would be carrying if it were real and I just can't suspend my disbelief on this one long enough to fall in love.
7. Titanic. The movie was fine (I guess) but there were a couple glaring problems. First, James Cameron decided while he was filming to ditch his wife Linda Hamilton (the one he left his previous wife for) and set up shop with the actress who plays the granddaughter of the old lady. I forget who she is, it doesn't matter because no one ever saw her again once she got together with Cameron. Pretty nasty of him, though really unrelated to the movie, but I also had a hard time with Leo DiCaprio. Not a fan, he's kind of precocious in a childish way. And you KNEW he was going to die, no question about it so I refused to get emotionally attached to him. Sorry. Did anyone else want to laugh when Kate Winslet said, "I want you to paint me in this . . . and ONLY this?" Because I've never known a woman that confident. Top grossing movie but NOT romantic. You should see this You Tube clip "Titanic in Five Seconds." It's more romantic than the original.
8. Knotting Hill. Now this one I actually liked, I like Hugh Grant, LOVED the quirky Welsh room mate Spike and thought there were some funny lines ("This yogurt tastes funny!") BUT Julia Roberts is absolutely horrid to Hugh Grant--really horrid--and let's face it the only reason he stands for it is because she's knock-down gorgeous and famous. Somehow that doesn't seem like the basis for a relationship and I can't get passed it. It's the same thing with Sweet Home Alabama--could anyone possible love a shrew like the one Reese Witherspoon played? Honestly? And she found TWO men to chase her? Unbelievable. No man I know would put up with that.
9. Indiscreet. If you haven't seen this classic with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman let me lay it out for you: He's a wealthy American businessman living abroad and Bergman plays an actress. They fall in love but can't get married because he's already married--at least that's what he tells her. He TELLS her he's married so that he can "get the milk for free without buying the cow" if you know what I mean. He wants to be free to roam and as long as she thinks he's married she won't expect any commitment. Of course she ends up finding out that he is single and that's when the scheming starts. You know they get back together in the end but I ask you, would YOU love a man who'd built your relationship on a lie for such selfish reasons? As if! I don't care if he is Cary Grant. It's kind of like Eliza Doolittle going back to Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, it irritates me every time and I want to shout at the screen, "What is with you? You had the guy who brought you flowers and actually treated you like a human being! Don't go back to that Higgins dog!"
10. Attack of the Clones. I don't think many people will disagree with me on this one--the whole Anakin/Padme thing (besides being extremely odd in terms of age differences--EEW!) is more comic than romantic. The scene (and I hope I can quote this right because I could only handle watching it once) where he touches her bare shoulder and says, "It's so . . . [long dramatic pause] soft" makes me think it couldn't be less romantic if they had Rosco P. Coltrane from the Dukes of Hazzard playing the leading man. "Coo coo coo!"
11. Annie Hall. A classic (I'm told) but too cross-the-line-quirky to be romantic. I ended up turning it off part way through. I'm not sure who'd find Woody Allen attractive anyway. Ooops! Sorry Ms. Keaton! I forgot you were paired up with him for awhile. Yea, to me having Woody Allen be a romantic lead is only a small step up from casting Henry Kissinger as the leading guy.
12. The Graduate. Another classic but think about it: an older (much older) woman seducing a young college boy. Sounds like the stuff that tabloids are made of. I don't care if the soundtrack is great, as a romance it doesn't work. It's the same gripe I have with Dirty Dancing. When I was a kid I saw this and thought it was sooooo romantic but then I thought about it--a old guy dance instructor seduces a young teen girl who comes to the place he works. Seriously, if that happened he'd be shot by her father or something, it's the movie where statutory rpe is the plot line. Not really romantic.
13. You've Got Mail. I loved Sleepless in Seattle but the second time around with Meg and Tom wasn't as fulfilling. Maybe it was her short hair, maybe it because it had been done before but whatever the reason I just couldn't find the romance in their constant bickering and "I'm going to destroy everything you love" kind of mentality. I just didn't get it how suddenly everything was okay once they knew each other's identities--didn't they remember all the nastiness that was said? I can just see the characters, walking off into the sunset together and Tom turning to Meg and saying, "Now when you said that you'd hate me forever what exactly did you mean?"
So that's my list. Some time I'll have to do a list of movies that turn me to jelly, I love me some movie romance. But go ahead and tell me I'm crazy with those I've listed here--I can take it--but better yet, give me your unromantic romances. I'm sure there are plenty I've forgotten. Thankfully.
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