Friday, September 10, 2010

Kathleen Presents: Chick Flicks Guys Like

I have some book news, but I'll save that until the end, when I'll also mention that I'll be giving away a book in celebration of said book news. But I digress.

We talk about chick flicks here periodically, and I'm usually the bearer of the bucket of cold water because I'm not a huge fan. Or the one I rave about is likely to be the one everyone else hates. But I saved an article called "A Guy's Guide to Rom-Coms" from last Friday's Minneapolis Star Tribune partly because I found Strib columnist Tom Horgen's 11 picks worthy of discussion, but mainly because unprompted my husband said, "Hey, did you see this article? I think this guy's got something here." And that cowboy of mine is definitely not a big romantic comedy fan.

I realize not every chick flick is a romantic comedy, but chick flicks are all aimed at women, and I would say the basic theme is building relationships. Going out on a limb here, I think all rom-coms are chick flicks. Men regard them as chick flicks. So rom-coms are chick flicks that men might like. But which ones? The article is all about recent flicks, but for my money it's still hard to beat some of the classics like "It Happened One Night" and any number of Tracy-Hepburn movies. Many of our novels certainly reflect the timeless appeal of those match-ups. But these days I generally wait for the rom-coms to come out on DVD if I see them at all. Horgen starts out by saying that the rom-com is "on life support" and pans recent releases "The Switch" with Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore's "Going the Distance." I haven't seen them. I've seen ads. Not interested. As often as not, Hollywood seems to hand a log line to couple of stars who have CHICK APPROVED stamped on their SAG cards and offer them a bunch of money. Script to follow. Maybe.

Romantic comedy is a popular genre, and every genre has its set of basic formulas. Nothing wrong with that. But listen up, Hollywood: We get tired of seeing the same actors playing the same stock characters in the same story with the same tired dialogue. Script, please.

Horgen claims that the contemporary rom-com took off with "When Harry Met Sally" (1989). He acknowledges the basics: unlikely pair finds irresistible attraction complicated by seemingly immovable obstacle, comedy spices things up at every turn, couple ends up together in one way or another. Then he picks his favorites, which he says "maximized the genre's potential" from a guy's point of view. Here are his picks. See what you think.

11. Return To Me (David Duchovny, Minnie Driver) His wife was killed in an accident. She's the transplant recipient of his dead wife's heart.

10. Notting Hill (Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant) She's a big star. He's an ordinary bookstore owner.

9. Maid In Manhattan (Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes) Classic Cinderella.

8. Shakespeare In Love (Gwenneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes) The young Bard meets his match.

7. Brown Sugar (Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan) Old friends rediscover each other. Note: Mos Def and Queen Latifah really do steal the show.

6. Chasing Amy (Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams) He's a comic book artist, she's not interested. Note: an indie that doesn't fit the mold, but guys--my sons among them--really like this one.

5. Shall We Dance (the Japanese version) Married man secretly takes ballroom dance lessons from a bombshell.

4. High Fidelity (John Cusack, Jack Black, forgettable female) Record store owner breaking up with yet another girlfriend.

3. The American President (Michael Douglas, Annette Benning) President (single dad) falls for a lobbyist.

2. When Harry Met Sally (Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan) Will sex spoil a perfectly good friendship?

1. Knocked Up (Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl) This one turns the secret baby story on its head.

Horgen briefly explains his picks in the article. I haven't seen all of them, but I think the choices are interesting. Do you agree? Any puzzlers? Is this a case of Mars/Venus? What was the last rom-com you and your date both truly enjoyed?

I have an autographed book waiting to go out to one of our commenters.

And my good news is...

ONCE A FATHER is a USA Today Bestseller!


Laurie said...

My husband and I saw Knocked Up a month ago. We did not find this movie believable at all. She's classy, successful. He's a grubby, nobody. She would not get picked up in as bar by this guy! EVER! We found it totally unbelievable. It does have a nice ending.
I've seen When Harry Met Sally, Notting Hill, Maid in Manhattan and Shakespeare In Love.

I would have chosen Pretty Woman, French Kiss, Romancing the Stone, Ever After, Cutting Edge as some of my favorite romances.

krisgils33 said...

congrats on the book doing so well. I haven't seen a good number of these on the list, but it does seem to be rather diverse. I'm not much of a movie-goer or TV watcher anymore, so I don't know what's going on with the genre.

Cindy Gerard said...

Yea!!! on the USA Today List Kathy. That's HUGE!!! Congratulations.

As for guy/chick flicks the last one I got the hubster to watch was - well NEVER. He's just not a movie kind of guy and if I ever would get him to go it would have to be a political thriller or cowboy epic along the lines of Lonesome Dove.

Keri Ford said...


I love love love The American President. My husband likes this one too.

Laurie, my husband groans (seriously, he groans outloud) when we sees Ever After on the guide. Love that movie, too.

Michele Hauf said...

Yay, Kathy! Congrats!!!!

I agree with Laurie that Cutting Edge should be on that list.

catslady said...

Congratulations on Once A Father.

I'm not a huge fan of chick flicks. My husband even less so. I don't get to go to very many movies so I much prefer the bigger than life movies and save the chick flicks for dvd rentals. I'm not sure this is the reason but I think it's because I prefer my romance in books over movies. As far as I'm concerned, books are better and I get my fix from books every day.

MsHellion said...

Knocked Up was his TOP pick? I would never watch a rom com with this guy. He does not have taste. *LOL* I couldn't stand this movie. I mean, I like my share of guy-humor movies (Talladega Nights being a particular fave), but no to Knocked Up. That's as much an ultimate guy fantasy as Nottinghill (which I also hated)--right, you're an idiot, but a MOVIE STAR falls in love with you. No. And in Knocked Up's case, you're an offensive slob with even more offensive friends--and you think you're going to get the pretty, successful, confident girl? In your wet dreams.

Yeah, his list makes me laugh--because I think the rom coms that work for women have the opposite fantasy: ordinary girl and extraordinary guy (he's handsome, he's rich, he's sensitive, he's not Seth Rogan), but I don't think he listed a single rom com that featured that scenario. *LOL*

Oddly I did like Couples Retreat and Forgetting Sarah Marshall as guy rom-coms.

MsHellion said...

*coughs* I apologize for my violent response about Knocked Up and Nottinghill. I'm sure I laughed somewhere in both movies.

I did adore Shakespeare in Love (though it ended wrong); and When Harry Met Sally. I also love Must Love Dogs and Under the Tuscan Sun (though that's so not a guy movie).

My date seems to enjoy Nicholas Sparks movies. Actually he doesn't...he actively watches them without me (since we have a long distance relationship), then he calls and tells me it's my fault he watched it and didn't enjoy the movie. Never mind that I've told him repeatedly that I don't like Nicholas Sparks (okay, I enjoyed The Notebook, but nothing else.) So I think my guy is a rare one who will watch chick flicks on purpose.

Kathleen Eagle said...


The columnist calls "Knocked Up" a "bromantic" comedy." You get the friends, the gross guy humor (6th grade boys in men's bodies) but you get the relationship with the woman as well. Another one like that might be "40-Year-Old Virgin." I actually liked both.

"Notting Hill" is proof that guys (at least this one) can buy into the Cinderella story when it's Cinderfella. That one used Hugh Grant's self-effacing charm to advantage, but fast-forward to "Mickey Blue Eyes" and you've got same old Hugh Grant stutter, now tired, tired, tired zzzzznooze. That

Kathleen Eagle said...

MsH, I'm with you on Nicholas Cage, and I put Nicholas Sparks a couple of notches below that.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Laurie, I like some of your choices, too, but I don't know if some of them would make it to any guy's list. "Romancing the Stone" and "Pretty Woman" would. Hubby liked both RTS and its sequel, but Danny Devito is part of the appeal for him. I think the buddies or the funny secondary guy(s) is one of the elements common in the guy's rom-com.

lois greiman said...

Congratulations Kathy!

There are some of my favorites in there and some which are too disgusting for me. Looooved Notting Hill. Isn't it funny how different we all are?

Helen Brenna said...

First things first ... CONGRATS, Kathy! Very exciting news!

This list-Knocked up, specifically-is a perfect example of why rom-coms are NOT automatic chick flicks. I wouldn't consider High Fidelity a chick flick, either.

That said, I've seen 10 of the 11 and liked almost all of them, but I'm an odd chick given my range of likes is huge. FWIW, I hated knocked up and loved high fidelity.

A couple of headscratchers ... Notting Hill, Maid in Manhattan ... my guys snoozed through those. Return to Me a comedy? I must not be remembering that movie correctly because I thought it was so sad.

Figures Chasing Amy would be on there - guys sure do love them some girl on girl action! :)))

Playground Monitor said...

First, congrats on your bestseller! That's awesome.

My soon-to-be-ex hated chick flicks, but I hate him now so we're even. :-)

I love Return to Me (not a comedy, but definitely romantic), Maid in Manhattan, Shall We Dance (the American version, didn't know there was a Japanese version), The American President and When Harry Met Sally. I had Brown Sugar on my DVR and apparently didn't set it to save indefinitely. :-( Oh well, BET network will run it again. My sister has raved about it for ages.

One I liked was (can't remember title) had Ben Stiller as a rabbi, Edward Norton as a priest and the gal who played Dharma. They were childhood friends who went their separate ways and then reconnected as adults.


Kathleen Eagle said...

"Shall We Dance" surprised me. Anything with dancing or a lot of music usually won't go over with my guys. "Dirty Dancing" is one of my all-time favorites, but once was more than enough for my guy. Guess it's not a true rom-com, but neither are some on the list. He was focusing on post Harry/Sally.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Marilyn, the Richard Gere "Shall We Dance" was a remake of the Japanese version, which really was funnier.

Playground Monitor said...

And oh gosh how could I forget Romancing the Stone. I own a copy and love, love, love it! I long to have my own "Joan Wilder moment."

Joan Wilder? The Joan Wilder?
You are Joan Wilder, the novelist?
I read your books. I read all your books. Come in.

I can't believe you're here. Joan Wilder.

I've been reading your books all these years. I'm so honored to have you here.Welcome to my humble house.

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Kathleen,
First, big time congrats on "Once a Father" -- it so deserves its spot on THE list.

As for movies, I have an unusually soft-hearted guy when it comes to TV and films. For a man who loves "Kill Bill" and "High Plains Drifter" as much as he loves his computer geek-ness, he's never against watching a chick flick or rom com. He watches and rates them on his "Annoy-O-Meter." Too many embarrassing or annoying moments and he doesn't like them--but most he tolerates well. He will watch "Romancing the Stone" any time its on. He liked "Music and Lyrics" and "Notting Hill." Then again, he watches Dancing With the Stars and Idol and Extreme Makover: Home Edition with me. Guess that's why I love me my beta heroes!

amy kennedy said...

Congrats Kathleen!

I don't know about this list, although I have to remember it's about romcom that guys like...

Love The American President, Notting Hill and When Harry Met Sally. I agree with Laurie on adding French Kiss -- except, I think American guys have something against French guys (maybe this one would sneak by because he's not French in real life).

Marilyn, thanks for the Jane Wilder scene (it's one of my faves)

amy kennedy said...

Liz, my husband watches extreme makeover home edition and cries like a "leetle girhl."

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Liz Selvig! Congrats back atcha' on your shiny new Golden Heart.

I love the "Annoy-o-Meter." Clyde would like one of those, although the markers on his might be a little salty on the high end. "High Plains Drifter" is one of his favorites. He liked "Shakespeare In Love"--generally enjoys any good period piece. He didn't like "Knocked Up" and I did.

gigi said...

I don't think that guy has a clue if Knocked Up was his top pick.
There have been some good romcom that i think my DH liked better.
Made of Honor for one.
I would have to think on it but I think that man that made the list didn't get it right at all.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Gigi, I think the columnist was speaking for himself first and extrapolating to guys in general. He actually calls "Knocked Up" a " new breed of romantic comedy." Remember, he's calling for a fresh take on the tried-and-true. In KU, the guy has to grow up, and he figures women will like that theme, while guys like the buddy theme.

Clyde has no use for the pregnancy/birth part. But I liked the characters, much of the humor, and thought Seth Rogen was great. Producer Judd Apatow is hit and miss with me, mostly miss. I didn't like "Talladega Nights" or "Anchorman" one trick pony movies for me--but "40 Year Old Virgin" was a hit with me. I still haven't seen "Forgetting Sarah Marshal," but that one sounds good.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oops--Extrapolating from, not to. The columnist was extrapolating from his own likes to come up with a statement about what kind of rom-con guys like and how, in his opinion, the genre might be resuscitate. (I guess they're not doing well at the box office these days.)

Greta said...

A few other suggestions:

What Women Want (Mel Gibson as a chauvinistic ad exec who suddenly starts hearing what women think)

Tootsie (Dustin Hoffman in drag--I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't enjoy this)

As Good As It Gets (Jack Nicholson & Helen Hunt)

Victor/Victoria (Julie Andrews & James Garner in 1920s Paris)

& YAY Kathy!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Greta, I loved "As Good As It Gets." Again, great script--made me forget the age issue that bothered some women (but men not so much!) And "Tootsie" is a movie milestone--great example.

Laney4 said...

Kathleen, Kathleen, Kathleen.

You KNOW I love to blog, but this topic just isn't for me!

The last movie that my DH and I saw together was in 2002 with our kids, and it was Red Green's Duct Tape Forever! I don't believe that qualifies as a rom-com (unless you're thinking of Harold's relationship with himself, LOL). Before that movie was probably The Flintstones with my kids in 1994 - again, not really considered a rom-com by most people!

Thanks for the blog, though. I'm enjoying all the responses. I've seen bits and pieces of some of these movies throughout the years on television and can relate to that instead.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Laney, thanks for stopping in! "Duct Tape Forever" sounds like something made for Minnesota. Made in MN? It's one of the Prairie Home Companion "sponsors," like ketchup.

LizbethSelvig said...

Amy! DH cries at Home Makeover too. Doubt he'd like the guys at work to know--then again, he's fairly confident.

Kathleen-does Clyde watch movies on TV that he's seen a bazillion times (ala High Plains Drifter)? We also have to watch Fifth Element, Star Wars, Kill Bill ... And there's "Bedazzled" with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley as the Devil. Must watch that because, well, EH wears a plaid skirt, knee hi's and glasses and he can't resist ...

Kathleen Eagle said...

Liz, Clyde loves the Western channel. He'll watch "Lonesome Dove" whenever it comes on even though he owns it. Many of his favorite come from LD. "The Outlaw Josey Wales" is another one. But they're excellent movies, and "Josey Wales" follows a classic romance plot.

Debra Dixon said...

I'm late getting here today, but I have to say that I don't like at least half of the movies on the list!

I love action films. But I want a romantic comedy to tilt slightly to romance. Some of the movies on the list lean more to the joke than the romance. Or don't have satisfying endings.

If I remember correctly, in CHASING AMY they don't end up together at the end of the movie? I haven't seen if for a long time and only saw it once which is usually a hint to me that I was unhappy. (g)

I loved Notting Hill. Never wanted to see MAID.

CUTTING EDGE is a classic, I think.

THE UGLY TRUTH wasn't liked by the media I don't think, but I actually found it funny. And would have loved it expect the ending was just the slightest bit off for the "Ahhhhh...." moment.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I really liked "The Ugly Truth" too, Deb. I think I saw two or three rom-coms in a row, and that was the best of the bunch. One might have been "Leap Year," which was mostly a waste, and the other was "The Proposal," which was stale and silly.

Two more that I really like that might appeal to guys are "There's Something About Mary" and "The Wedding Singer."

I googled rom-coms guys like today and found several lists. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Knocked Up" are ubiquitous.

Angi Morgan said...

The Cutting Edge -- We still watch it all the time. But my hubby just watched The Backup Plan and enjoyed that. He appreciates good fun stories, always has.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on your bestseller!

The only movies I watch with my boyfriend are animated ones. So, if you consider "Toy Story 3" as a rom-com, okay. :)


Kathleen Eagle said...

Angi, LaVyrle Spencer used to say that "The Cutting Edge" was her favorite romantic movie and a great example for the genre writer.

Cories, I'm dying to see "Toy Story 3"! Woody is so cool!



I agree with "Tootsie," "Romancing the Stone," and, of course, "Pretty Woman."

I've been so disappointed with the quality of flicks in general in recent years, I can't tell you the last time I saw one. Can't remember the last time a TV clip or ad even grabbed my interest.