As you may know, as well as writing for children, one of my not-so-secret dreams is to be a Hollywood romcom guru. Done well, romcoms are one of my favourite art forms. Funny, insightful, beautiful to watch, romantic …. The problem is, right now they’re not being done well. Witness anything with Katherine Heigl in since Knocked Up (which was surprisingly touching), or Jenifer Aniston, or Kate Hudson. There’s a cynical, formulaic ring to them. The comedy is slapstick. The girls are no fun to be around. The guys are obnoxious. It’s depressing.
Right now, Julia Roberts is doing her best in Eat Pray Love. I haven’t seen it yet, but all the reviews I’ve read have told me the following: Javier Bardem is GORGEOUS; the scenery is GORGEOUS; the book is GORGEOUS; Julia, to look at, is GORGEOUS; but the plot is just as superficial and formulaic as usual, missing all the spirituality of the book. Aaauggh!
I thought maybe Hollywood had cracked it again when it made It’s Complicated. A rom-com with a twist! Older people! Not that it hasn’t done it before, but it hasn’t done it for a while. And divorced people! With each other! But more to the point, fantastically good comic performers, who, surely, couldn’t mess it up? The trailer was brilliant. The banter was funny and honest and insightful. All the stuff I love.
So I watched it with bated breath and, d’you know what, to borrow a phrase from Caitlin Moran on Twitter, it was all just a bit … meh. I thought about it, and here are 10 reasons why.
- Meryl Streep’s house is too incredible. Anyone who lives in a house like that and isn’t on the brink of being thrown out of it can’t have any serious problems worth investing an hour and 55 minutes of my life in
- Steve Martin is too creepy. If Meryl had fancied the seriously fanciable soon-to-be son-in-law instead of Steve’s could-be-a-serial-killer architect, we’d have had a much more interesting love triangle going on there
- Alec Baldwin’s Porsche (I think it’s a Porsche) is too ew. As soon as she saw it, Meryl should have known
- She flirts at work too much, in her girly voice, and the people who have to put up with it actually seem to like it. This is wrong
- There’s a bit when one of her girlfriends has to explain the whole Alec Baldwin he-left-you-for-that-scumbag-and-she-had-a-kid-with-someone-else-and-then-they-got-married backstory in one sentence. As you do to your best friend, who you’ve known for years and is kind of familiar with the whole scenario. Work harder, people! Show, don’t tell. Honestly.
- The children are more grounded, scarred and interesting than the main character
- She gets to work out all the potential pitfalls in the Alec Baldwin scenario with her shrink. Again – work harder, people. Either show us this stuff, or let us work it out for ourselves
- The opening scene is only brilliant if you don’t know what the movie’s about. Which, after all the pre-publicity, we kind of do
- Can’t think of anything else
- The rest of the movie was GREAT. Love Meryl. Love Alec. Love hunky soon-to-be-son-in-law. Nancy Meyers is, in general, brilliant. (We haven’t sold the film rights yet, Nancy. Ignore points one to eight and call me.)