Live, Laugh, Love: The magic of romantic comedies

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By Raneem Alozzi

My favourite romantic comedy of all time is Chasing Liberty . The first time I watched it, I was staying over at my grandmother’s house. It always smells like hearty breakfast food at that time of the day and my sitto didn’t care about what I did or watched as long as I ate while doing it. As a result, I had a cinematically rich childhood.

I remember crying when Anna Foster realized her first ever date was being spied on by her parents. And then again, when her parents’ spies followed her across Prague. And a final time, when she realized that Ben, her European beau, was actually a spy hired by her father. You get the picture.

I wasn’t the president’s daughter, but I could understand overprotective parents and the urge to be spontaneous and go just anywhere. I was a naturally curious child and I’ve always been a romantic. The film checked off all the right boxes for me.

Romantic comedies aren’t necessarily the best films out there. Very few that fall squarely under that genre have ever won awards or broken box office records. But they’re still films that matter. I’ve thought long and hard about what makes a rom-com a good one.

Ironically enough, rom-coms encompass emotions and nuances we all relate to, regardless of what you think of them. We can all recognize feelings of heartbreak, mutual pining, laughter when it is particularly inappropriate and of course: Love.

So you can imagine my disappointment when romantic comedies slowly became less funny, less romantic and less frequent. The Ugly Truth? We love it when guys judge your sex appeal while mansplaining your lifestyle.

Silver Linings Playbook won an Oscar for misrepresenting people with mental illnesses, and who approved the production of The Kissing Booth anyway? Of course, every now and then a good one would pop up, but even those are a rarity.

A few Google searches showed me the decline in romantic comedies has actually been studied. After multiple ground-breaking successes in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, rom coms fell flat, unable to meet set expectations.

As a result of that, movie studios stopped putting money towards them because they would result in immense losses.

Once upon a time, romantic comedies were relatable.  Recently they fell flat because our world is constantly changing, and the way we perceive romance is changing too. I’ll always love a good enemies-turned-to-lovers story trope, but I can still love it without compromising a character for the story. Recycling classic storylines is fine, but only when they’ve been adjusted to fit our society and culture today.

Romantic comedies are far from perfect. If we’re being honest, some of them are incredibly  problematic, like the original Sixteen Candles, 50 first dates and unfortunately, The Notebook. And so I like to think they’re a little more human than the rest of the movie genres. But there was a time when creators were able to tailor our experiences and have them reflect back at us on screen a little more accurately then they have in the past decade.

People say rom-coms are making a comeback and I think I might start believing it. But until they do, I’ll kick back and watch Chasing Liberty for the 500th time because when a film resonates with you, it stays with you forever.

 

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