A recent addition to the genre, Le Week-end:
The reader who pointed to Finding Mr. Right as evidence of a Chinese appreciation for romantic comedies responds to the critic who argued that culturally specific jokes don’t translate well:
It’s not true. In Finding Mr. Right, the heroine is a fanatical fan of Sleepless in Seattle, a comedy by the notoriously verbal Nora Ephron. Shakespeare in Love by the even more linguistically-oriented Tom Stoppard was a huge underground hit in China on DVD. And North American audiences have embraced British romantic comedies such as Bend It Like Beckham without even knowing exactly what the title referred to.
This reader is exactly wrong; what we often enjoy in our filmgoing experience are familiar tropes cycled through a foreign sensibility. In fact, you could argue that’s exactly what continues to make Shakespeare so popular (in all his myriad forms) with North American audiences.
Meanwhile, Megan Gibson suggests that the romcom genre peaked 25 years ago, with the release of When Harry Met Sally:
Part of what makes the movie so great is its simplicity.
First of all, the two leads aren’t thrown together due to some ridiculous bet (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, She’s All That), nor are they dealing with any kind of magic or spell (Groundhog Day, 13 Going on 30). Harry and Sally aren’t even grappling with any class or status differences (Pretty Woman, Notting Hill). Both are white and privileged, living in New York with huge apartments and loads of disposable income and time.
Instead, the Harry and Sally are simply dealing with the age-old question of the differences between men and women. The issues that the pair – along with their two best friends, Jess and Marie, excellently played by Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher, respectively – face are pretty universal in the relationships of 20 and 30-somethings everywhere: fights over possessions when moving in with someone; needing a “transitional person,” aka a rebound, after a break-up; dealing with a partner who’s “high maintenance” – a term that the movie just happened to have coined. And, of course, the tension and awkwardness that follows having sex with a good friend. What’s even more remarkable is how relevant the movie still feels today.
Watch it again. Aside from some hairstyles and sartorial choices, the film has aged remarkably well, largely thanks to its script.
Recent Dish on the state of the romantic comedy here, here and here.