Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Switch (2010): Or It's the End of Romantic Comedies As We Know It ... And I Feel Fine

I did something that I hadn't done in quite some time: I went to see a romantic comedy on my own on a Friday night. Quite what possessed me to undertake such an idiotic task (and solo) is beyond my level of expression. Thus, I will not elaborate on it.

I wanted to write an honest, objective review of a film whose trailer seemed quite promising: Jennifer Aniston is about to inject Patrick Wilson's sperm up her uterus, but Jason Bateman decides to play with the jar of sperm and subsequently makes sure that Patrick Wilson's sperm joins the sewage system of New York City. Ooops. Facing a situation like that, he does what any man would do: pick up a magazine with Diane Sawyer on the cover and work out.

Hilarious, right? Not so much.

The Switch is not only a pale comedy, it is a pale film by any definition of that word. From whichever angle you look at it, it epitomises what we have come to hate from romantic comedies. Why? One word: recession.

Yes, we have finally come to realise that we are not going to live a life "Friends" style, going from one gorgeous date to another; not having to worry about work, because something will come up anyway. And that wherever we live, it will look like a picture from the Crate & Barrel catalogue, regardless of our income.

Of course, cinema has always been a fantasy and every film since the days of Georges Méliès have been lying to us that what we see on that once humongous-and-now-iPhone-size screen can happen and will happen. Hindsight is the greatest weapon of our species: Skynet did not come to happen, non-white races have not raped and pillaged white women and forced their race, and we have not self-annihilated to hand our precious to monkeys that speak English eloquently. Nor did we get the beautiful girl / hunky guy.

The problem is that, romantic comedies are predicated on the notion that yes, you can actually have this life (and there's no doubt that some people do, just like some other people who await alien communication in front of computers somewhere in the Atacama Desert ... not really an accurate representation of our society, is it?). No matter how quirky your personality may be, you may still get the gorgeous, stylish girl / cute, athletic guy in with a British accent.

Then recession happened. And the bubblegum really burst. We still buy into 7-foot alien species living in an otherwise inhospitable planet, but we cannot buy two Manhattanites finally deciding to get dirty and do it right there on the floor. We just don't. The bubble has burst ... the romantic comedy formula hasn't changed one bit in the last [insert year here] years. True, your basic sci-fi, drama, procedural drama etc haven't changed either. But, we have always been aware of their fakeness and we bought into it. We may have loved the characters, but did we really want to be a prosecutor after seeing a film set entirely in a courtroom? No. But we have all dreamed of being the next Hugh Grant / Orlando Bloom/ Jennifer Aniston / Drew Barrymore [insert your favourite actor / actress here].

Maybe in 10 years' time when recession will be a forgotten thing of the past (like, I don't know, Napster) and romantic comedies will again be interesting to watch. The lacklustre box office figures for films like The Switch shows that people have finally had it.

If we want to be lied at, at least do it in style. And please, please try to make an effort next time.

It's the end of romantic comedies as we know it, and I feel fine.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails