It's Thursday night. Not quite party time (you have a 9 a.m. tomorrow) but reading ahead in your introductory class textbook isn't the way to fill the hours between 10 and 12. No, now is the time for laughter. For romance. For pretty dresses and awesome songs and a few kisses along the way. It's time to break out the rom-coms.
The only problem is...maybe college has got you thinking differently. Maybe you're feeling more "adult," as foreign as that word feels in your mouth. Whatever the issue, these movies (a staple of all sleepovers and post-breakup ice cream feasts everywhere) seem to have lost a little of their magic. They seem to make a little less sense.
I've been having these mixed feelings myself and am here to personally guide you through all things wacky, weird, and nonsensical about a few classic cutesy films. Starting with...
1. 13 Going on 30
Ok, the first strange thing here isn't even the fact that Jenna wakes up 17 years older with any memory of the past decade and a half wiped from her brain. It's the fact that she wants to. I'm sorry, but no matter how glamorous some magazine made it seem, when I was 13, 30 seemed old. Maybe I would've wished to be 16: old enough to drive and feel mature, but not old enough to be paying my own health insurance bills. It's ok, Jenna. We know you weren't thinking about deductibles when you had literally the worst birthday ever. BUT. Matty-of-the-future, what was your excuse? 30-year-old Jenna was seriously unstable. I find it hard to believe nobody around her felt that her drastic change in personality and memory loss were symptoms of some larger problem. I'll give you a hint why the romance between Matty and Jenna feels innocent, sweet, and playful. It's because a 13-year-old was flirting with a 30-year-old man. Ick. So don't get me wrong, I'm cool with the movie magic and the wishing on stars and even the bizarre time travel. But growing up has taught me that when you do the things you used to do as a kid as an adult (i.e. dressing in rainbow colors, giggling, and being dependent on others for everything) people definitely take notice.
2. 27 Dresses
Another movie with a number in the title, "27 Dresses" also delivers the same type of unrealistic love story. I like to call it, 27 More Vertebrae and Maybe Jane Will Grow a Spine. Seriously, this woman has to be the most passive, people-pleasing pushover ever to grace our screens. Now, I'm not at the age yet where all my friends are getting married or anything, but still, how can one woman know that many brides well enough to be asked to be part of their bridal parties? And what are the odds that each bride knows each other well enough to know that Jane makes a good bridesmaid and are all selfish enough to keep asking her? The girl won't refuse, and she just keeps shelling out more dough to buy poofy dresses she can't even bring herself to sell to a consignment shop. Jane, how can you afford that large apartment in New York with enough closet room for 27 space-consuming dresses if you keep paying for said dresses? This is not a sustainable lifestyle. And as truly puzzling this dress conundrum is, it certainly isn't the "big story" Kevin the brooding writer is looking for. I guess my main issue here is with the finances of the two lovebirds. One's a meager reporter, the other's blowing her savings on taffeta and satin, and yet they still manage to find love and an affordable life in NYC? Yeah, okay. I'll believe it when I see it.
3. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
I just need pause and mention that this is yet another rom-com with a number in the title. Why? Can girls only handle math when it's in the title of an alleged "chick flick"?
Okay. So. Four words. Talk to your partner. That's what this one boils down to. I understand that Benjamin Barry and Andie Anderson (extra credit to the writers for the alliteration, by the way) each had their own agenda. And maybe super intense but also disturbing bets like these happen in real life. If so, leave me out of them. That being said, just because Ben had to date a girl and get her to want to stay with him doesn't mean he couldn't have sat down and tried talking with Andie about some of the crazier things she did. Like maybe, hey, I'm uncomfortable with taking care of this dog (which you seemingly procured out of nowhere) but it's such a great sentiment and I'd love to walk him in the park with you. Ooh, wow, look out, she may flip and break up with you because you had a rational conversation and clearly stated your feelings! Maybe if Ben had tried to actually have a relationship with this randomly selected woman instead of just not trying to upset her, Andie and he would've discovered they're right for each other much earlier on and not had that huge "I'm betrayed!" revealing scene. Which is also pretty ridiculous, because, let's face it, you were both using each other and were kinda mean about it. It's the pot calling the kettle black calling the pot black. Chill, guys. You both suck.
4. A Cinderella Story
This one deeply pains me, because I grew up loving Hilary Duff and especially this movie. But looking back on it, there were some things that didn't bug me at all as a kid, but make me seriously question the logistics of this sweet little story.
There are two biggies: To the father Austen Ames, what dad doesn't want his intelligent son to go Princeton? Unless money is an issue, which is never explicitly stated (except in Sam's case) it seems like most parents have high expectations for their kids. And Austen Ames himself presents another problem. Was their high school so deeply rooted in stereotypes that a jock couldn't have a sentimental side? Maybe high school has gotten more progressive since the early 2000's, but it seems to me if you're a football player and you're intelligent and know how to romance a girl, you could be an even better player, in more ways than one.
The second thing is the fact that Sam's dad's will was abandoned and forgotten about, in the back of her dusty old fairy tale book. I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure there was an attorney floating around somewhere in California who had a copy of it and was well aware that Hal had died. (Unless the lawyer died in the earthquake too? How bad was this natural disaster?) When somebody dies, there is a lot of legal documentation to figure out, especially when there are children and spouses involved. It's a huge stretch to leave that will hidden until the end of the movie, where it makes for a happy ending deus ex-machina style.
So maybe, like me, you've become a little more cynical with age and aren't as ready to suspend your disbelief and slip into the fantastical world of the romantic comedy. It's hard not to notice some of the more unrealistic facets of these movies, but often times they're the foundations of the entire plot. If you don't believe that a woman can be a bridesmaid 27 times and still not have learned to speak up for herself, or that a will can be hidden under a bed for a decade untouched, or that two people can be so desperate to win a bet or get published that they forget all of the basic rules of dating, then you can't do what these movies want you to do. Which is to let all of that go (stop worrying about those health insurance bills you, too, like Jenna will eventually have to pay) and lose yourself in the implausibility of the moment. Maybe it's even in those wacky, out-of-the-ordinary moments that the strangest things, love included, can happen.