Tag Archives: romantic comedy

Brian’s Review – Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.


Rating: 9 out of 10

Holy Shit! Bradley Cooper can act! I honestly had no idea. Everything I’ve ever seen him in prior to this movie, he’s always delivered a minimalist performance where he seems to be doing little more than acting like himself. But, here he delivers a nuanced and fleshed out character that isn’t just interesting, but funny and touching as well. Honestly, all the acting in this film is fantastic. Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver are all top notch and make the film work but I knew THEY could act. Cooper caught me a bit off guard.

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As I’m sure you’ve read from the above synopsis, this is a film about mental illness and the long term effects it can have on life, love, and finding your place in the world. As generalized as that description can sound, it describes the experience of watching the film perfectly. David O. Russell does his best work since Three Kings here. He has always been a visionary director that uses interesting characters to help round out a detailed and oft-kilter world. But, here is a film that is more about emotion than rational thought. Cooper, De Niro, and Lawrence all have their mental illness vices. De Niro is obsessive compulsive, Lawrence lost her husband and has thrown herself to any man sexually who will make her forget her pain, and Cooper has constant fits of rage stemming all the way back to an incident where his wife was unfaithful. Each of them is looking for their own “Silver Lining.”

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 That makes for an interesting premise and certainly Russell is adept at weaving the tale but it’s the interaction between the characters that makes this film special, particularly the believable chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper. Their relationship builds over the course of the movie, not from some lame chance meeting like all of the predictable romantic comedies. They have very little in common except for one thing: they both have no filter between their brains and their mouths. This makes for some funny and unpredictable dialogue that is completely original.

I’ll admit that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. A lot of film goers like their neat and tidy films that ride off into the sunset. While this film is far from a negative experience, it doesn’t dare to think that these people are cured. It just lets them find their silver lining within their imperfect existence. 



Forced to marry Camille (Sienna Miller), the sheriff’s niece, parolee Silas (James Franco) takes his bride on a Niagara Falls honeymoon, where he plans to escape to Canada. Certain the trip will rehabilitate Silas, Camille remains enthusiastic — even after she dies in a crash. Now, Silas must deal with Camille’s denial about her death and her slow decomposition. David Carradine co-stars in this quirky romantic comedy.

Rating: 5 out of 10

This movie started very promising. We’re set up with a stick-sweet, innocent country gal who marries the totally wrong man. She’s so goodhearted that no matter how rotten he is, we feel for her. But then something happens on their doomed honeymoon — she dies. However, she doesn’t know she’s dead, or at least hasn’t come to terms with it, and her body still continues to live. It seems strange and a huge leap, but this movie made it work for the most part.

From here, we’re catapulted into a fairy tale stylized story that moves nicely. There is genuine conflict within and between our two main characters, played well by Miller and Franco. They have little adventures and moments where they grow closer and even begin to love each other. But they’re constantly dealing with her death. She begins to decompose, her skin color fades to a pale white, and her hair begins to fall out. But they remain endearing characters that we care about.

Where this movie goes wrong is in its last act, where it gets completely cheesy and takes some really easy outs. SPOILER ALERT: They literally leap into a rainbow, riding a unicorn to end the movie, if that clues you in on how corny it got.

Midnight in Paris

In this charming romantic comedy, legendary director Woody Allen focuses his lens on an engaged young couple whose experiences traveling together in Paris make them begin to question the kind of life they want to live.

Rating: 8 out of 10

There are few scribes like Woody Allen. And while you can point to his typical formula in this film — his constant scratching at the subject of love and finding happiness — there is a wealth of imagination and creativity. He certainly hasn’t lost his touch.

Allen wrangles an immensely talented cast with a script that weaves time travel, humor, romance, and beautiful cinematography of Paris. It’s absolutely sublime.  Owen Wilson plays a typical Allen character, a writer in a relationship he’s not really satisfied with in search of a deeper existence. Rachel McAdams plays his fiancee, a tart who doesn’t really like Wilson’s artsy, eyes-open-wide view of the world. At midnight, Wilson takes a stroll and is somehow transported back to the ’30s. While he’s there, he meets the legends of the time in writing and music, along with Adriana, a flapper girl played by the enchanting Marion Cotillard.

What follows is a series of Wilson popping back and forth between decades, trying to figure out his relationship, pursue Adriana, all while working on a novel and dealing with his crazy, annoying future in-laws. And in the background, that constant yearning for a greater, more meaningful life. This is a wonderful script by Allen, who won the Academy Award for his efforts. “Midnight in Paris” stands tall in Allen’s collection of incredible films.

Larry Crowne

After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.

Rating: 6 out of 10

On the surface, this is another cheesy romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. While there are romantic moments, this movie is a little more than that, and better than I thought it would be.

Tom Hanks directed and co-wrote this film, starring himself in a pretty smart role. Hanks plays Larry Crowne, who in the opening scenes is cut from his job at a retail big box store because he doesn’t have a college education. Even though he’s a star employee and well liked by co-workers, he’s considered obsolete and can’t be moved up the corporate ladder because of his lack of education. He’s also a divorcee and military veteran with a dazzlingly likable personality. Enter Julia Roberts, the bitter professor stuck in community college teaching apathetic students while living with a very unhappy marriage.

The two, of course, collide when he takes her class. But that’s not the focus of the movie. The movie is Crowne learning to get back on his feet while going through a very difficult period of losing his job, his home, and realizing he needs to change his life. The love comes as a very subtle element, and it’s not the focus of the film.

There are lots of cornball moments. The college students are way too nice and accepting of him. He joins them in a scooter gang, for instance. There are certainly some cheese-tastic moments. But it’s smarter than it lets on in trailers. Not a bad date night movie if you catch it on Showtime.

His Girl Friday

Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is about to get hitched to dull insurance agent Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) — that’s if her ex-husband, ruthless newspaper publisher Walter Burns (Cary Grant), doesn’t succeed in winning her back in this battle-of-the-sexes screwball comedy. Meanwhile, reporters salivating for the scoop on a local voting conspiracy is just a minor distraction as Burns pulls out all the stops for the woman he loves.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Acclaimed director Howard Hawks was behind the camera on “His Girl Friday” and it was released in the golden year of 1940. “His Girl Friday,” which stars Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy, is hands down the best romantic comedy ever made. Hawks’ film is the template to which all other in the genre are made. It is, at its core, a fast, frivolous screwball escapade. Russell and Grant are an estranged, divorced couple who happen to be newspaper people. Russell being the crack reporter to Grant’s editor in chief. Grant will go to any length to win Russell back as she readies for an impending re-marriage to a lethargic and dull insurance agent played with incredible accuracy by Ralph Bellamy. So how good is this “winning the girl back” comedy? It is insanely funny and very charming.

The chemistry between Grant and Russell is a marvel to behold. Comedies like this are rare because they were completely in tune. In classic Hawks’ fashion, the comedic delivery and timing is outrageously brilliant. They talk fast, furious, and loud. Dialog overlaps and multiple characters are in frame constantly poking and jabbing verbal bullets at each other. The film even goes as far as to make a statement about sexism in the workplace, capital punishment and love. But it is never all too serious or solemn. Even a wrongly convicted man falls prey to the gag-filled machinations between Grant and Russell. Characters are hilariously thrust into outrageous situations while the love triangle between Russell, Grant and Bellamy grows increasingly complicated.

Special mention has to go to Bellamy. He is finely tuned in this role as the dour, serious and predictable third wheel. Even his poor mother is thrust into the fray and his performance contrasts the frenetic, heavily-fueled slapstick provided by Russell and Grant. “His Girl Friday” is complex, funny and full of insanely spontaneous gag pieces. I must admit, though, that back in the 1940’s comedic actors were bold, challenged and never refined. All the adlibbing in this film is a testimony to that. Watch it soon and you will be impressed by how original and funny this gem is.


When impish gamine Amélie (Audrey Tautou), who lives alone, finds a long-hidden trove of toys behind a baseboard in her apartment, she’s inspired to repatriate the items, an impulse of generosity that sparks more benevolent acts. A celebration of life and love, French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Oscar-nominated charmer stresses the importance of small wonders that surround us, if only we paused to look.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Amelie is a sweet natured film with a big heart. The main character, played so eloquently by Audrey Tautou, is the type of sweet-natured girl you can’t help but fall in love with.

It has a simple enough premise: Amelie finds an old box of heirlooms from 40 years ago inside the wall of her apartment. She decides to find the owner and return it to him. If she can succeed, she will try to become a professional do-gooder. Now, this works only because the world that director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has created is not the one we inhabit every day. It’s seen through the lens with exaggerated colors and dream-like sequences to create an adult fairy tale. Cynicism is an outcast here and hope springs eternal. Realistic? No way. But, do we really need reality in our films all the time? I like the idea of seeing the best of humanity, no matter how outrageous it may seem to some. Also, Amelie is not always an angelic do-gooder. There are some very funny moments where she gets back at different bullies she runs into in her life.

So, if I enjoyed the film, why am I giving it only a 7? Well, first off, anything 7 or higher is something I recommend. But, Amelie’s script is not as good as its visual style. Once Amelie starts being a “do-gooder” the script doesn’t know where to go. The situations where she starts to help people are less imaginative and it pushes towards a standard romantic comedy. By the end, Amelie gets what she wants and it appears her days of helping others falls by the wayside. It’s a shame. too. because it had such promise for the first 60 minutes.

How Do You Know

Feeling spurned after being cut from the national team due to her age, newly single softball player Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) finds herself in the middle of a heated love triangle, as a professional baseball player (Owen Wilson) and a business executive (Paul Rudd) compete for her affections. Jack Nicholson co-stars in this athletically minded romantic comedy from acclaimed writer-director James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets).

Rating: 5 out of 10

“How Do You Know” has a few unfortunate pitfalls. It’s billed as a comedy and the actors are usually comedic, so obviously you go in thinking it’ll be funny. But it’s really more of a drama with humorous moments. I still liked it, though. It’s probably a little too long, and maybe they go into each story a little too much. I think that’s the problem with stories like this. There are three leads (plus Jack Nicholson!) and way too much going on. It could have been a television show.

To turn this back into a comedy I think it mostly needed focus and editing. The Owen Wilson character, although funny, could have been cut out altogether, or at least made to be more of a sidenote. And Reese Witherspoon, who plays an aging (31) women’s softball player who’s about to get cut from the team, could have been fired in scene one instead of dragging it out.

The actors are still really good, especially the scenes with Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson.

The Switch

Still single and increasingly attuned to the cacophony of her biological clock, 40-something Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) decides that if she can’t find a mate she’ll still pursue motherhood with the help of a sperm sample that’s not quite as anonymous as she thinks. As the baby grows up, Kassie’s best friend, Wally (Jason Bateman), agonizes over whether to reveal that he secretly replaced the donor sample with his own DNA.

Rating: 5 out of 10

I wasn’t quite familiar with this film, as I only saw advertisements and the trailer a few weeks ago. Perhaps I haven’t been avidly following upcoming films as well as I used to, but I don’t think they marketed this film very well… and I see why. I went into this film thinking it was going to be an atypical romantic comedy, seeing they advertised this film with the statement: “From the people that brought you ‘Juno’ and ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’”

However, this film lacks the essence of both of those films. It is much, much more dry with several unintentionally awkward scenes and the inevitable awkwardness of Jeff Goldblum. His earlier work was entertaining, but now I just find him incredibly odd and he doesn’t bring anything interesting to his roles. I was looking forward to seeing Juliette Lewis but I wasn’t really impressed. The story was OK but I find the fact that it took more than ten years of close friendship and a child for Aniston’s and Bateman’s characters to consider being together.

Bateman put on a great performance, proving he his capable of more dramatic roles. I thought for sure that Jennifer Aniston would completely disappoint me, as I am not a fan, but she gave an adequate and tolerable performance. The one actor who caught my eye was Thomas Robinson, the little boy who played Sebastian. His delivery and performance, for someone his age, was quite amazing. All in all, I thought the film was OK, but I probably won’t see it again.

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Did You Hear About The Morgans?

In New York City, Paul and Meryl Morgan (Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker), an estranged couple who witness a murder are relocated to small-town Wyoming as part of a witness-protection program. Sheriff Clay Wheeler (Sam Elliott) and his wife Emma (Mary Steenburgen), are charged with protecting them in a rural, alien location the Morgans, who are dealing with relationship issues, are used to. Written and directed by Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics).

Rating: 4 out of 10

This movie sets up nicely. The Morgans are a couple on the outs — the husband cheated, the wife is bitter and unhappy. They struggled to have children, grew apart, and had real issues that people could relate to. There were funny scenes and likable characters, particularly Steenburgen (who still looks as beautiful as ever) and Elliot.

But as the story unfolds, these two big-city dwellers simply look more foolish and lost in rural America than could possibly be. And while there are real dramatic moments where the characters seem real, they are forced into moronic scenes where they realize their love by rescuing each other at a rodeo while dressed in a 2-person bull costume.

Romantic comedies are very hit and miss. They have to have a sweet side, but need an edge to make them fresh, like “Knocked Up,” which succeeded on numerous levels. This film had some of that, and some funny moments, but became very dopey in a hurry.

The Backup Plan

After years of dating, Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) has decided waiting for the right man is taking too long. Determined to become a mother, she decides to go it alone and get artificially inseminated. That same day, Zoe meets Stan (Alex O’Loughlin) a man she doesn’t like at first, but falls for after his persistent pursuit of her, but he doesn’t know she’s pregnant yet. Trying to nurture a budding relationship and hide the early signs of pregnancy becomes a comedy of errors for Zoe and creates confusing signals for Stan. The story’s focus happens after Zoe reveals to Stan that she’s pregnant and the real pregnancy test comes when both of them realize they really don’t know each other outside of hormonal chaos and birth preparations. With the nine month clock ticking, both begin to experience cold feet.

Rating 5 out of 10

You could do worse for a date movie. This is a romantic comedy that could make your sweet tooth fall out from decay, but there are enough funny moments to endure the bad.

I suppose corny monologues professing love are expected in romantic comedies, but there are a couple that made me gag. But Lopez is very likable in her role as a single woman in New York who hasn’t had much luck finding the right man. She’s got a good heart in the role, there’s good chemistry between she and O’Loughlin despite his wooden performance, and her comedic timing is nice.

The movie is highly predictable, sticky sweet, and often overly sentimental, following a tried and true arch for the genre. But, if you’re looking for a date movie she’ll enjoy and you want to avoid something with too many special effects and gratuitous nudity, this is a safe bate.