Hello and welcome to Day Three of “Binky International Film Festival“. Over the past two days, we have reviewed some “Big Budget Awesomeness” and “Sundance Darlings” and today, we are going to concentrate on a genre that is as old as time itself: “Chick Flicks”. Despite being a cynic and a feminist, I have loved romantic comedies since I first saw When Harry Met Sally for the first time back in the sixth grade, and I’m not ashamed of it. 😉 Sure, this genre has declined rapidly over the last decade (where’s Meg Ryan when you need her?) but this year I have seen some improvements. There’s hope for this genre yet. So without further ado, grab your tub of Ben & Jerry’s and let’s dive straight in!
Note: Two of the movies in this post (Country Strong and Waiting For Forever) are not romantic comedies, but since these are the kind of movies that appeal more to women than men, I decided to put them in this category. Also: technically Bridesmaids needs to be in this category as well but since it receives quite a bit of nominations this award season, it’ll be in tomorrow’s “Award Worthy” genre.
Crazy Stupid Love
Opening Weekend: July 29, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 118 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Glenn Ficara, John Requa & Dan Fogelman
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, etc
2011 is a great year for one Ryan Gosling. Sure he lost the “Sexiest Man Alive” title to Bradley Cooper (which caused an uproar) but there is no denying that about 99% of women (plus about the same percentage of gay men) on earth want to have sex with him. Myself included. And this movie gives us about 50% of the reason why we all want him (the other 50% is divided between Drive and The Ides of March): he’s a confident, self-assured hottie with a body so perfect Emma Stone’s character accused his abs of being photoshopped. We all want to leave the bar and get straight to bed with him. But enough about Gosling! I think this movie is the best romcom of 2011. Carell is so hilarious, and he and Gosling play off each other so well. If you want to feel all warm and fuzzy while at the same time laugh so hard you nearly pee, you might want to give this movie a try if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.
Rating: 4 Out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: January 7, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 117 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Shana Feste
Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garret Hedlund, Leighton Meester
Two things I learned from watching this movie: one, I totally understand the Gwyneth Paltrow backlash and why people can’t stand her, and two, Leighton Meester can actually sing, you guys, provided that she wises up and embrace the country pop genre for real. No more of those pop dance-y singles, Leighton, stick with what you’re good at. Other than those two things, this movie is kind of meh. It feels more like Gwyneth Paltrow trying to prove she can do it all (act, sing country, act drunk etc), and the best part of the movie is when her character (spoiler alert) dies, and some sweet Hedlund/Meester scenes. The movie is just not that good, period. Color me unimpressed.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
No Strings Attached
Opening Weekend: January 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 108 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Ivan Reitman & Elizabeth Merriwhether. Story by Elizabeth Merriwhether & Michael Samonek.
Stars: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Jake Johnson, Kevin Kline, Mindy Kaling, etc
Just so you know I’m not exactly a fan of Ashton Kutcher and I always assume that a movie with him in the lead would suck. But luckily, I love Natalie Portman so I gave this romcom a chance and I didn’t regret it. The movie is quite funny, Natalie Portman is just so delightful in it. But then again, after her Oscar-winning turn in Black Swan, did we expect anything less? I also love that even though it followed a certain predictable romcom formula, it doesn’t rely too heavily on the cliches. The scene with Natalie Portman in the car, cry-singing “Bleeding Love” and binging on donut holes – that’s genuinely non-cliche funny. And we women can relate! It has happened to us once or twice, right? So even if you can’t stand Kutcher, I still recommend you check out this flick. It’ll put a smile on your face, seriously.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Friends With Benefits
Opening Weekend: July 22, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 109 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Will Gluck & Keith Merryman, David A. Newman. Story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman & David A. Newman.
Stars: Mila Kunis, Jason Timberlake, Woody Harrelson, Jenna Elfman, Patricia Clarkson etc
2011 is a pretty good year for movies, but someone somewhere in Hollywood must’ve screwed up because in the space of less than 6 months, two romcoms with identical premises came out, both with attractive leads and both with the same fast-talking zany humor. And who came out on top? Sorry Mila Kunis, but your Black Swan co-star beats you this time around. Out of the two movies, I like No Strings Attached better, maybe because Friends With Benefits tries a little too hard to be tongue-in-cheek and funny. And by the time the movie came out, flash mobs are so two years ago, no matter how cute Mila Kunis tries to convince you of otherwise.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Waiting For Forever
Opening Weekend: February 4, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 95 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): James Keach & Steve Adams
Stars: Rachel Bilson, Tom Sturridge, Richard Jenkins, Blythe Danner
I think I’m the only one who saw this little seen Rachel Bilson movie, and even though it wasn’t the best romantic film of the year, I actually didn’t hate it. Sure at first I thought Tom Sturridge’s character has mental disabilities or something, especially the way he pines for Rachel Bilson’s character but never once dares to make a move, but then I realized that he’s not, he just chooses to deal with the world in his own childlike way. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may be naïve but it’s not idiotic. I also like Bilson taking on a more complicated role for once, and she’s pretty good in this movie too. But obviously Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, Blythe Danner steals the scene. She’s just heartbreaking in this movie and if nothing else, she should be the reason to check out this movie. Trust me.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I Don’t Know How She Does It
Opening Weekend: September 16, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 89 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Douglas McGrath & Aline Brosh Mckenna
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Christina Hendricks, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, etc
Do you ever wonder why, if a woman is successful at her career, and at the same time is successful at being a wife and mother, people ask “How does she do it?” as if women are expected to just be good at one thing and fail miserably at the other? Well this movie attempts to address this way of thinking, and I think it’s pretty successful in presenting the case that women can in fact do it all and we don’t have to apologize for wanting to be a good mother and a career woman, while not downplaying the hardships than are bound to come from wanting to have it all. The good thing about this movie: it deals with the real issues that working mothers actually deal with. The bad thing about this movie: Sarah Jessica Parker can be grating at times. I would have liked to see Christina Hendricks in the lead role instead of SJP, but that’s just me. All in all, it’s not the best, most inspiring movie about women (0r even the most accurate one, to be honest) but it’s pretty enjoyable nonetheless. And what do you know, Olivia Munn can act after all! She’s actually funny! We do learn something from this movie. 🙂
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
And there you have it, Day Three of Binky International Film Festival! I hope you’ve enjoyed all the chick flicks we’ve revisited today and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Day Four, where we’ll be taking a look at this year’s “Award Worthy” movies. Until then!