Sunday, 15 July 2012

The rom-com message

I’ve been thinking lately that I should be doing film reviews not only on the fantasy, action, sci-fi and comic book wonders but also on the other films I watch.  Yes, I do watch other films.  Rom-coms, chick flicks and children’s films can be added to the action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi and gore that I love so much.

The other week I saw the Five Year Engagement, which started this thinking off.  Last night me and the hubby decided to watch a film.  We decided to see what started at 9pm on Sky Movies and found What Happened In Vegas.  I’d heard bad things but we thought we’d give it a go.

I find it very difficult to review rom-coms because they’re all the same.  Boy meets girl, they overcome an obstacle and live happily ever after (except in the Break Up where Vince Vaughn is a little worse off by the end).  What makes a rom-com special is the humour involved and the message.  A rom-com, by definition, must be a funny love story.  One of my favourites of all time is You’ve Got Mail – boy meets girl, boy is reason girl’s life is falling apart, they end up happily ever after anyway, throw in Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and you have a blissful film.

So what about What Happened In Vegas?  Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher meet in Vegas after being dumped and fired respectfully.  After one drunken night of madness they end up married and naturally go on to win $3 million after Jack (Kutcher) uses Joy’s (Diaz) quarter.  Well, now a quickie divorce is out of the question and a judge tells them to try and make the marriage work before splitting the money and divorcing if they so wish.

It’s predictable and some of the humour is poor but there are some real laugh out loud moments.  That’s it.  There are so many films like this it really does feel that there is a factory of writers, actors and directors out there in a warehouse just churning them out.

What makes a film like this stand out is the message.  The usual rom-com message is about identity because that is what relationships are all about.  It is always highly recommended when a relationship ends that you spend some time being single, to figure out who you are again.  It’s true that being in a relationship changes you, you begin to amend your personality and lifestyle to fit with the other person and if that other person is wrong for you then very precious parts of yourself can be lost.
This is Joy’s message, as she struggles with her job, the failure of her previous relationship and to realise who she really is.

What’s clever about this film is that this isn’t the only message.  Jack has his own issues and his is a message about faith.  All he needs is for someone to believe in him, to stop him from running away as soon as he thinks he’s going to lose or as soon as things get scary.

Strangely, these two find their identity and faith in marriage, which goes against all the stereotypes.  Maybe this was meant to be a beautiful, slushy moment of love and romance suddenly blooming between the two but I just took it as a development to show how perfect these two complete opposite characters are for each other, giving it not just beauty but a little depth.

What Happens In Vegas is nothing special, there is lots of eye candy with Diaz and Kutcher who are both great actors and some really funny moments.  I think you have to be in the right place for a rom-com however.  I tend to have a hankering for a good rom-com when I want something gentle, not too taxing, or I’m feeling a little insecure (there’s that identity message again).

Saying that, I love watching Cameron Diaz.  Every time she smiles, I become a little more gay.

As this is a writing blog I feel I should add something about what I learnt about this film.  This film made me think about the relationships between my Emily May and Bane, and Emily and Murphy.  I admit I still haven’t quite decided what Emily is going to do about these two men in her life.  I keep changing my mind.  But maybe Emily needs to figure out her own identity before she can figure out her love life...


  1. Jenny - I have been thinking for some time that review is your forte. I seldom have seen the films / programmes that you comment on, but I always enjoy reading them, even if I have no idea if you are talking rubbish. I think that is important. I generally feel that they are insightful! So, perhaps you should submit some of your reviews to suitable publications. I have no idea where they should go, but I think you could get yourself a following. xxx

  2. Thanks Claire :) You're not the first to suggest that to me but I always thought my mum and hubby were a bit biased!! So I really appreciate your words. I've been thinking the same so will have to see what I can do :) Thanks for reading even though it's not stuff you're into.