There is no movie genre more maligned than the romantic comedy. If you don't believe me, tell someone that you just can't get enough of rom-coms the next time you are asked about your favorite movies and watch a blend of incomprehension and disgust cross the other person's face. Harsh? Maybe, but according to an Op-Ed in The New York Times by Maureen Dowd, there's a very good reason for it: romantic comedies are dead, and Hollywood killed them. In a conversation with film writer Sam Wasson, the two take a moment to mourn the shift in the romantic comedy landscape that has gone from the golden age of the '30s and '40s to He's Just Not That Into You.
But maybe the problem is that in the 'good old days' of the '30s and '40s, there wasn't really a rom-com genre ... technically. The great directors mentioned in Dowd's piece -- Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch -- were two directors known for directing comedies -- screwball comedies to be exact. Their movies may have had a romantic streak a mile wide, but they were more than that. These movies were witty, smart, and you could enjoy them without being all 'hearts and flowers' about it. Modern day rom-coms bear little resemblance to their ancestors -- they aren't smart, they aren't witty, and they certainly aren't very romantic and it seemed like the moment we put the 'Rom' into the rom-com, the films were pushed into the girlie ghetto and stayed there ever since.
Wasson says most of the blame is laid at the feet of the 'Jennifers' (Garner and Aniston) of the film world, and while that might seem unfair (lord knows there is enough blame to go around; Kate Hudson, I'm looking at you), I'll admit that he might have a point. Because when I decided to put together a list of the some of the worst offenders, a trend emerged -- and not just with the fairer sex either. So without further ado, here are five comedies that hurt romance on the big screen...
1. The Ugly Truth
I honestly don't know who this movie is more offensive towards, men or women. Because in a story like this it's a toss up between portraying men as braying, insulting horn-dogs or women as uptight sexually repressed control freaks -- I honestly can't decide. In this 2009 bomb, Gerard Butler teaches Katherine Heigl what 'Men Really Want' but thankfully audiences had the good taste to decide that they certainly didn't want either one of these two.
2. The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Whatever charm Matthew McConaughey possessed as a leading man was stripped away in this take on a Christmas Carol, except in this story, rather than watching a man find the true meaning of Christmas, we get McConnaughy smirking and behaving like a general jack-ass along with Jennifer Garner doing her signature pout for 90mins until the obligatory happy ending.
3. My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Just so we're clear, in Ivan Reitman's contribution, a superhero who has committed her life to saving and protecting the innocent gets dumped and turns into a murderous psychopath -- am I the only one who doesn't find this just a tad insulting? Uma Thurman stars as the super ex-girlfriend who gets dumped for a blond creampuff (Anna Farris) and like most of the movies on this list, this flick manages to insult just about everyone; fans of romance, fans of comedy, and even fans of 'caped crusaders' -- and don't get me started on the happy ending which has our Superhero finding true love with the man who's been trying to kill her (Eddie Izzard) in the hopes of getting her to notice him.
4. He's Just Not That Into You
It turns out there was something more annoying than the romantic self-help book that originated with Sex and The City, and it's the movie based on that book. This ensemble cast highlights every tired romantic cliche about the women desperate for a boyfriend/husband/or attention and the men who love (and leave) them. But even an A-List cast couldn't save this flick and in the end, everyone wound up looking bad.
5. How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days
This film was the beginning of one of the more depressing couplings in cinematic history: Kate Hudson and Matthew McConnaughey. In this 2003 movie, Hudson plays a reporter writing about what women do to drive men away and decides to try them all on Mr. McConnaughey, who has his own agenda. They might be some of the prettiest people to ever grace the screen, but I think we've all had just about enough of these two falling in love.
So there you have it -- five movies I think have done their best to kill the romantic comedy. But now I'll turn it over to you: Is the rom-com genre dead? Leave your two cents in the comments below.