Thursday, February 05, 2009

Another clunker in the romance department

So why can't movies seem to get it right these days?

I know - I shouldn't really complain about any movie that was nominated for a Razzie award (nor should I have watched one) but when something is billed as a romantic comedy, it should at least warrant a look see.

Not so for My Best Friend's Girl with Kate Hudson and Dane Cook. I'm not going to mention the crude humor or vulgarity as negative points because these are in fact listed on the DVD cover as enticements for people to plunk down their hard earned cash. I'm going to just concentrate on the structure of the 'romance.'

The story revolves around Cook's character, Tank, who makes a nice side living terrorizing women into running back to the boyfriends they've dumped. He shows them how good they had it by being the date from hell. When his best friend/cousin Dustin asks for his help in getting the girl he loves, Alexis, [Kate] to realize he's marriage worthy material, Tank is reluctant, but he finally agrees to pull out all the stops.

What follows is the predictable part - Tank meets Alexis, woos her and discovers she's hard to scare away. She likes his vulgar music, doesn't balk at spending the evening at a strip club, and meets him insult for insult. She also ends up in bed with him. Naturally Tank falls in love with her.

Here's my beef - in the beginning, Dustin tells Tank that Alexis is his 'angel.' He adores her. Okay, fine, maybe he does - but later Tank comes to agree with Dustin. He sees Alexis as an angel, a girl so special he's willing to change his whole way of life to be with her. Sounds nice - BUT - I had to ask, what, why and how? Alexis is never shown as being anything special. Aside from being blond and perky she shows no 'angelic' qualities. Her relationship with Tank revolves around her texting him for 'booty calls' then kicking him out so she can get her beauty sleep before work in the morning. He seems to find her endearing because she's so much like him.

My next complaint is about Tank himself. Sure the redeemed hero is a great theme. Take a bad boy and humble him by throwing him together with the woman who turns him into a different man. That works. Except when it doesn't. You can make a hero too unlikable. Trust me, it's been done many times. Tank has made a career out of treating women badly for the sake of the men who want them back. He's not used to being a hero - and in this movie, he never gets a chance to be. His big 'redemption' comes when he takes Alexis on a proper date, then leaves her chastely at her door at the end of the evening, showing he can be a gentleman even when his date doesn't want him to be.

Poor Dustin is left in the dust by his 'angel' and his 'best friend' and he doesn't even get to pick up the pieces when Tank decides Alexis is too good for him and therefore he must work twice as hard to push her away. Tank descends to his lowest depths when he ruins Alexis's sister's wedding and that debacle accomplishes his goal. Now we've seen the 'hero' at his worst. Digging himself out of this hole is a monumental task that, trust me again, he's not up to.

How does the whole thing resolve itself? In typical movie fashion - SPOILER ALERT - the plot is wrapped up in the last few minutes. Tank tries talking to Alexis. That doesn't work. So he gives up. In the Epilogue scene which takes place 3 months later, Alexis locates Tank in a resturant, seemingly on a date with another woman [way to get over the love of his life] and she makes a ruckus which ends with them falling into each other's arms. Roll credits.

There you go. Would this fly in a book? I can't say it hasn't been done, but seriously - a true romance hero needs something serious to redeem him after he's hurt the heroine. He needs a grand gesture, a major sacrifice. He can't just be sitting around waiting for her to decide he's not so bad. A romance heroine needs a special spark that makes her worth all this sacrifice. Having pretty hair and nice legs isn't enough to make readers [or an audience] like her enough to care if the hero falls in love.

I know there are plenty of romance novels that get turned into movies - but mightn't it be a good idea if anything billed as a 'romantic comedy' was required to have a romance writer on staff? At least then we could hope for some true romance and real redemption.


Kristen Painter said...

You're not the first person to really diss this movie, so don't feel bad. lol

Jen said...

Um, you did know it had Dane Cook in it, right? That'd be enough for me to never even put it in the dvd player.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

You're not the first person to really diss this movie, so don't feel bad. lol

My problem is I'm such an optimist when it comes to love stories, I kept hoping that maybe...just maybe...

Um, you did know it had Dane Cook in it, right?

I know. I know. I never said it was a good decision, but we ran out of stuff from Netflix, so we made a desperate trip to Blockbuster. I wasn't thinking clearly. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Kate Willoughby said...

Hollywood sometimes has no clue about story, especially love stories. I will not be seeing this movie. Too bad, because the premise is really interesting and could have been great if it had addressed the points you mentioned.

This would be an interesting blog platform: romance movie dissection. It'd be cool if the movie industry then caught on and read it for advice.

What did you think of Music and Lyrics?

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

You know, Kate, I've thought about doing more movie reviews, but I'm afraid I'd come off as too ranty because I see so few really good movies.

As for Music and Lyrics, I liked that one. I wouldn't say it was an epic love story, but it was cute and entertaining.

Kate Willoughby said...

With M & L, I liked that they both had character arcs. And you could clearly see what each brought to the other's life.

I'm the same way. I am very hard on movies. It is a very rare film that doesn't have ONE thing that bugged me while I watched it.