Reese. Julia. Sandra. All three are gorgeous, A-list actresses. All three have Academy Awards. All three are romantic comedy staples. And each one of them is always able to lure me in to whatever new romantic comedy she is starring in, no matter how cliché or unoriginal that movie is.
The latest rom-com mouse trap that caught me is “This Means War” starring Reese Legally Blonde Witherspoon. The plot? Completely unbelievable. The romantic outcome? Saw it coming a mile away. The ending? Sugary sweet. Overall feeling?
I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Against my better judgment and my critical eye, “This Means War” was a funny, entertaining feel-good movie that kept me hooked once Witherspoon’s beaming smile and blonde locks appeared on-screen. While “This Means War” wasn’t your typical rom-com, it had all the elements, clichés and conventions that drive each and every one of them. What kept the movie feeling a little fresh was the bromance between the two male leads, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, who literally fighting over Witherspoon’s affection. The two worked for a federal security agency and were best friends until they found out they were courting the same woman. This deeply affected their relationship to the point where I would almost call “This Means War” a buddy-cop movie, complete with tons of action sequences and explosions galore.
Nothing about “This Means War” was innovative, thought-provoking or forward-thinking. None of the performances will garner Oscar buzz. The movie itself is not a masterpiece of cinema. And yet, I honestly couldn’t help but fall in love with it. For all intents and purposes, this movie should have been a train wreck, but it just worked. No matter how conventional or formulaic “This Means War–or any rom-com is for that matter–was, it successfully accomplished what a good rom-com is: escapist entertainment and the idealistic surrender of reality. I walked into “This Means War” fully aware that the movie would be an unbelievable, fairy-tale account of love found, lost and reacquired within an hour and a half. What I did not expect was just how good the chemistry would be between the leads (shout-out to a crass, scene-stealing Chelsea Handler) and how committed these actors were in bringing to life fairly two-dimensional characters in order to attract the audience’s attention and tickle their funny bone.
With romantic comedies, it’s all too easy to point out the critical flaws and glaring plot holes that normally exist. What’s difficult to admit is how they are able to draw you in and thoroughly speak to the believer inside of you; the one that believes in true romance and a life full of humorous misunderstandings, comical mishaps and, ultimately, happiness. That’s what I love about romantic comedies. When they do their job right, they make me forget about the confines of reality and allow me to fully immerse myself in a mystical world where overcoming any obstacle is possible. So no matter how many movies starring Jennifer Anniston or Katherine Heigl come out, just know that I will probably eventually be in line to see them. Romantic comedies are safe and pure entertainment.
What more could you ask for?