I did another February “Romance Movie Watching” challenge this year; my goal was 5, and I managed to get in 12! I took a bunch of suggestions from Facebook people, and there were only 8 suggestions that I didn’t get to. I also added a few of my own. So here are my reviews!
LARRY CROWNE (suggested by Stephanie)
This movie is well-cast with a fairly simple premise; it’s a pleasant watch, I liked the main characters, and I laughed a few times. It just didn’t have any strong connection for me emotionally. I found myself not understanding the motives of the characters, and while we saw Hanks and Roberts in their individual lives, they didn’t get enough “together/watching them fall in love” time for the ending to be very triumphant. It also kept almost playing around with “taboo” things; the older guy and the younger girl, the (married) teacher and the student… never an actual problem, but kind of distracting. But I think I liked the conclusion. And one highlight was that the girl who plays Charlotte Lu in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was in this movie for a few seconds!
HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS (suggested by Susie)
While this was not very deep, it was definitely an entertaining watch, with the intentional over-the-top plot making the silliness work and causing me to giggle out loud multiple times. Since both characters had their own agenda, I didn’t have to feel bad for either one, which helped to make the Kate Hudson nonsense bearable as she did a great job of being horribly annoying. I do wish that he had kind of apologized at the end of the movie, since it was both of their faults and I kind of felt like she’s the one who had to “learn the lesson”, which didn’t seem fair. But despite that, I will happily put it down as an enjoyed RomCom.
FRENCH KISS (suggested by Emma)
In contrast to the previous movie, this romance has a subtle humor to it, with more “meat” in getting to know the characters than either of the first two. I enjoy seeing their friendship develop, and they both were realistic but likeable characters. It had a complex enough plot that it wasn’t exactly what I suspected and I wasn’t always sure where it was going, which was a good thing, and the transition from liking one guy to liking the other felt natural. This didn’t necessarily leave a strong impression on me, and I don’t know if the plot or characters or humor will stick with me far into the future. But I did like it, and this is the type of movie that might really grow on me after multiple viewings.
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK
This was a random movie that I watched at 4am, but I’m pretty sure I was awake enough to give it an authentic review. 🙂 I was drawn into this one pretty quickly; Jane and Robert’s banter had enough wit, sarcasm and affection that I giggled out loud several times right off the bat. The pacing was good, the characters were likeable, it was a bit silly at moments but also super sweet. I really liked Robert Redford’s character, and although Jane Fonda was funny, I was kind of thrown by how quickly their fight made her go insane; either I can’t relate to her character at all, or their fight scene was too over-the-top because there was no reason for her to get that instantly mad. But it resolved itself well for the most part and it captured my attention throughout. It also had really cute music!
BYE BYE BIRDIE
Didn’t have super high hopes for this one since I don’t like the soundtrack much, but I needed to see it anyway. It had some good moments; I enjoyed the dance sequence in the teen bar (Hugo’s voice is better than Birdie’s), and the song where they all faint is silly, and Dick Van Dyke is mostly charming in “Put On a Happy Face” even though it’s super cheesy. But I was annoyed by Dick Van Dyke’s entire plot, and although I love him in Mary Poppins and his TV show, I am not a fan of his character or his acting in this; he’s just awkward. I liked Hugo and Kim’s storyline best; they were sweet and fairly believable.
RETURN TO ME (suggested by Susie)
I knew nothing about this going into it, but I started predicting things that would happen pretty quickly. (Though that’s kind of usual in a romcom, so I guess I shouldn’t hold it against it.) It was a pleasant movie, with neither main character being particularly special, but they certainly weren’t annoying. It had funny and sweet moments, and I really enjoyed the group of older men and their banter; they were quite charming. The plot in this has a good blend of sweet and tragic, but I just wasn’t as moved by the execution of the story as I felt like I was supposed to be.
MOONSTRUCK (suggested by Kristin)
Definitely a quirky movie; was I supposed to be laughing at Nicolas Cage’s overdramatic character who is just ridiculous? I am going to think that I am, hoping that it’s a kind of sweet, tongue-in-cheek cheesiness and not supposed to be super serious. The story does have some somber moments, which are a nice compliment to the quirky ambiance of the film. I thought it was sweet and entertaining with a good conclusion, and Cher was absolutely the character she was supposed to be.
I recently reread the book and am planning on watching other movie versions. Obviously trying to condense a Victorian novel into a 1 hour 40 minute movie will take out some content, and I understand that; but removing the majority of the end transition (all the stuff that happens with her while she’s living with St. John) threw me off. I feel like it doesn’t give her enough of a change in motivation before her final decision. I have a hard time liking Mr. Rochester, both in this movie and the book, but Ciaran Hinds seemed to do him fairly accurately. I think I should watch another few movie versions to see how this one ranks in comparison before I judge it too harshly for not getting the book right.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO + JULIET
First “non West Side Story” version of this that I’ve seen. Leo Dicaprio is always super cute, and he is no exception in this movie. Despite the fact that Romeo is a bit of a fickle dweeb, Leo at least plays his character with a lot of heart and charm, and Juliet was good. I wasn’t a big fan of the artistic choices for ambiance, though I liked dramatic opening with the narration and the ominous music.
However, whether it’s the play itself or my misunderstanding of this movie, I have a hard time seeing how the feud actually led to Romeo and Juliet dying. I’m pretty sure they were running away because there was no way her parents would let her marry Romeo, but that was because she was already set up with a rich dude; if he was just poor (and wasn’t a Montague), it would’ve been the same issue, and HE only died because he’s overdramatic and chose to take the poison, followed by her for the same reason! If the whole thing is supposed to say “prejudice leads to all of the destruction”, WSS does a much better job of telling that than this movie.
DIRTY DANCING (suggested by Kristin)
This was the “famous” one I wanted to get in this month. The plot wasn’t what I expected, but I guess I didn’t really know anything about it. I think I enjoyed both the characters; Swayze was more vulnerable and less “punk” than I expected, and the girl was sweet and believable. I really liked the moment when she apologized to her father but was still honest about how he was treating her. And the dancing was fun, with not as much “dirty dancing” as I thought it would have; it had actual DANCE dances, which was great to watch. Overall, I liked it but I don’t have a lot to say about it.
BENNY AND JOON (suggested by Eli)
I saw this YEARS ago and remembered maybe 2 moments from it, so I didn’t even realize until my rewatch that Benny was the brother and not Johnny Depp! Actually understanding the plot on it this time around, I liked it a lot. I loved the cute quirkiness of the music and of Johnny Depp’s character. I definitely get how it was more about the brother and Joon, though; the romance was a conduit for the siblings to work through their issues and for her to gain independence that was leading towards something, and while I was probably more entertained by Sam than Benny (which was the point), the depth of the character dynamics made this more than just a cute romance.
RUBY SPARKS (suggested by Hannah)
This one was super creative! It was done really well and Paul Dano did a fantastic job. I loved the blend of comedy and dark tones throughout; the montage when she wouldn’t stop touching him was very giggly, but then it veered quickly into more serious issues, and the climactic scene in the movie where he’s typing is so eerie and haunting. But the movie also resolves itself well. I had some theories about what the movie means that I don’t think I was necessarily SUPPOSED to think, but I’m satisfied with the conclusion either way.
MY TOP THREE:
Barefoot in the Park
MY BOTTOM THREE:
Bye Bye Birdie
Romeo and Juliet
MOVIES I’LL WANT TO WATCH AGAIN
Benny and Joon
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
MOVIES THAT I HAD TROUBLE CONNECTING WITH
Return to Me