Browsing Tag
rom com

I’m not usually the type of guy that waits in line for a “romantic comedy” in the hopes it will alleviate all of the darkness in anyone’s life. These movies are cookie-cutter at best, each boasting similar storylines and auxiliary characters to boot. If anything the romantic comedy can be used to gauge a certain stars mass appeal by how much money they are able to drive in. You see, when everything is pretty much the same, only the star-power can drive in the dollar signs.

Hitch succeeds on almost every level in giving the audience something new to enjoy. This film is made by the characters, which is very important since the story is the cliché plot line we have come to expect over the years. Guy meets girl, guy goes out with girl, girl discovers something about guy and blows it out of proportion, guy and girl reconcile, serious banging occurs (or we are left to presume). In Hitch, the two about to bang are Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) and Sara (Eva Mendes) who are the two unlikely folks that wind up together.

Alex is a date doctor, and as we learn in the film’s opening montage and voice over, he gives guys the confidence, and the means to get any girl they want. We know from the start this is a work of fiction, because nothing in life ever works out this well, except in New York, where, apparently, everything under the sun can happen, and you won’t get mugged. Hitch’s latest client is Albert (Kevin James) who is the standard, geeky guy that almost everyone seeing this movie alone can relate to, expect that kid already waiting for Episode III. Albert has his sights set on Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta) after her cheating boyfriend is exposed by a local tabloid. In circumstances that become apparent during the “girl discovers something about guy” stage, Sara realizes that Hitch is the mythical “date doctor” and may have given a guy bad advice, which lead to her friend being hurt. Reconciliation occurs, and we are left to wonder about that serious banging.

The film is strong through the first two acts. Will Smith is his usual charismatic self and it’s nice to see Eva Mendes get out of supporting roles in films like 2 Fast 2 Furious and Stuck on You. She holds up the film well in the lead role and can do comedy. The problems begin in the overtly long third act where the jokes stop (in standard comedy form) and a preachy series of dialog almost begins to grate on you in its sugary, sappy taste. Anything you can think of saying on Valentine’s Day is in the latter half of this movie, and for the better part of it I was just wishing someone would stop, or shoot some one else. Luckily it finally ends with a humorous dancing skit, but you can feel every second of the last 20 minutes.

Easily stealing the movie from everyone is Kevin James as the bumbling Albert. For the unenlightened, The King of Queens, James’ day job on CBS, is one of the funniest comedies on TV, and with Everybody Loves Raymond going off the air this year, only Queens, Two and a Half Men, and Arrested Development remain as the two funny live-action sitcoms on the air. But I digress. James creates the perfect character for every bumbling guy to relate to, and getting the girl manages to give us hope, if only till the credits role.

Not being a huge fan of the genre I can honestly say that Hitch is the best romantic comedy of the year (mainly because I don’t plan on seeing too many of them), still, there are some problems here and there which make it a great movie. While Will Smith plays Will Smith (which is fine) we do get to see some of the talents of James and Mendes who both excel at comedy and provide a more human face to the façade of Hollywood and what appearances should be. If you’re “hitched” up with someone, this is the perfect film to go and see, and even if you’re lacking that extra baggage, give Hitch a chance, and maybe she’ll give you one, if you know what I mean.

Those crazy Brits have got to be doing something right across the pond. After the success of 28 Days Later in their homeland the film stormed American cinemas and made my top 10 list last year, now another zombie film tried to make it big in the US, but can a romantic comedy with zombies really work? You bet your ass it can.

What Shaun of the Dead (taking its title as an homage to George Romero’s perennial Dawn of the Dead) does really well is be an entertaining film that successfully merges many genres of filmmaking into one, creating a hodgepodge of side-bursting comedy and horror and mixes it all together, with a few scoops of brains, and melds one of the best films of the year. Realistically, I haven’t had a better time at the movies in a very long time. Aside from the “groundbreaking” dramas and the “funniest movies of the year” comedies you rarely get to go to a film that is so enjoyable, you actually don’t want it to end, because you know the real world, with its “real” movies will be waiting just around the corner.

Shaun of the Dead centers around the title character, Shaun (Simon Pegg), and his everyday activities, which are leading him down the road of an eternal loser, and how his seemingly normal life is impacted by the zombie threat. One of the most clever portions of the film’s script is we never get a real cause for the arrival of the zombies. While characters are flipping through channels we get bits and pieces of how the virus might have first come in contact with humans, but a solid explanation is never given. Shaun is struggling to keep his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), interested, and after he recommends his favorite tavern for a romantic dinner things are through. Just as it seems as though things can’t get any worse it does, and the zombies arrive on the scene (although calling them that is bad luck). Shaun is totally oblivious to this fact until a close encounter puts him in the spotlight to save his friends, and escape the undead.

First and foremost think about what a melding of the comedy and horror genres would be like with a dry British wit and none of the Wayan’s brothers within 5000 miles, and this is what you would expect. The jokes are funny, the visual cues are funnier, and the dialog is the best. Shaun of the Dead has a smart, witty, fast script that doesn’t sit around with one joke too long and has life to make even the undead…well…pretty damn lively. Whereas Dawn of the Dead had the underscore of consumerism in our society, Shaun of the Dead follows the same trend in making the everyday, working man look like a mindless fiend bent on getting through the day alive only to plod through another. This joke is alluded to earlier in the film before it is blatantly summarized in the closing montage.

Towards the climax the comedy routine seems to taper off as the horror aspect clearly makes its mark. For a comedy you may not find a more gruesome 90 minutes as far as dismemberment and bloodshed, and no, sitting through Along Came Polly doesn’t count as gruesome, only retarded. For the squeamish there are a few instances they might want to avoid, including the vivid dismemberment of a human at the hands of a gang of zombies. Unlike the walking undead of 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake, these are your standard slow zombies, who are so transfixed on their next helping of brains that they are easy enough to get by in small numbers.

Shaun of the Dead has sleeper hit written all over it, and it would be one if it didn’t shatter the British box office earlier this year. The film is ripe with social commentary, gore, violence, language, and a bit of a relationship troubles for the ladies out there. While the plot itself isn’t anything particularly new, the execution and writing make the film one of the very best of the year and a must see for anyone who has grown tired of traditional cinema and is looking for something that is 99.9% pure entertainment.