Another conversation in which Mel and Anthony discuss some of our favourite romcom tropes…
Mel: I’m a fan of the old-fashioned kind of ‘serendipity’ device, where one character finds an object that belongs to the other, and seeks out to return it.
Anthony: What, like their virginity?
Mel: You are so crude. It’s all about sex to you. Or maybe they meet by chance, and then spend the rest of the movie trying to work their way back to each other.
Anthony: The trouble with those models is hello, the internet? Finding people is heaps easier – or impossible.
Mel: Well even You’ve Got Mail managed to incorporate the internet into an old-fashioned narrative.
Anthony: And look how well that holds up today.
Mel: I think it’s charming! I’m surprised there hasn’t been a dreadful Tinder-based romcom yet. Or has there? Have there been any romcoms based on online dating?
Anthony: Swiping Mr Right.
Mel: Oh don’t. That’s just terrible enough to get greenlit.
Anthony: I’m trademarking that. I think the reason why there hasn’t been a dating app romcom is because using a dating app is in opposition to the mentality required to believe in a romcom (well, the rom part at least). As I learnt from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend last night (which is also a good show), dating apps are for sex.
Mel: That would explain why I hate them.
Mel: What mentality is required to believe in a romcom? These days they assume a certain amount of cynicism and often mock characters who yearn for true love.
Anthony: Believing in “the one” and “true love” and that kind of stuff, rather than the (to me) more realistic approach of going “shit, I want to be in a relationship”, hooking up with someone and then trying to convince yourself that they’re your true love. I’ve seen way too many relationships that have started out super casual then after a few months the lucky couple are telling everyone it was love at first sight. I guess you could write a script about someone using an app for a stream of hook-ups but then they meet someone who means more than just casual sex to them.
Mel: Actually, there was a film called Two Night Stand starring my purported honey Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton from Damsels in Distress. They hooked up, it was awful, but then they got snowed in and they had to stay in a small apartment together and they discovered LURVE.
Anthony: SCHYEAH RIGHT. There’s no “purported” about the honey you’ve got for M. Teller. More like MMMMM-HMMMM TELLER.
Mel: Look, I’ve gone off Miles Teller in recent months. He is basically an arrogant dickhead in real life, which is very offputting.
Anthony: Yeah, his dickhead behaviour unfortunately happened just at the moment when he had nothing to be dickish about.
Mel: See, that’s the thing – if I can’t even sustain a crush on a Hollywood star for being a dickhead, how are we supposed to get on board with romcoms that ask us to love men who behave dickishly? But I still like looking at his face.
Anthony: HIS SCARRED FACE. He’s got a problematic face.
Mel: His face isn’t the problem. Your face is!
Anthony: Harsh. But again, the problem is that too many romcoms are based on a binary conflict, and if the female lead is the one we’re meant to identify with, then that forces the dude to be a dick to make the story work.
Mel: I just want a romcom where a woman who is a little hotter than me, living a little better, meets a man who is hotter than anyone I can expect to meet, let alone make it with, and they’re happy and good for each other. I don’t like it when the plot is too gimmicky and forces people to adopt weird attitudes and behaviours just in order to get the mechanisms of the romcom going, or to surprise viewers who are jaded at regular romcoms.
Anthony: But the movie you just described only goes for 25 minutes. What’s act two?
Mel: This is why I like Obvious Child so much! She’s awkward and not really successful but she meets a guy who seems to like her anyway and he’s really cute. And the whole drunken one-night stand pregnancy scenario is believable – no doubt it actually happens to real people.
Anthony: But then Obvious Child becomes an abortion drama.
Mel: It’s not, really. Whether she’ll get the abortion is never in question – the issue is whether he has a right to know. Strictly he doesn’t, but then she starts to actually like him. Basically, Jake Lacy just gives me hope that somewhere out there might be a decent, creamy-vanilla guy for me.
Anthony: The kind of movie you’re describing is the first act of a bunch of shitty spy thrillers – things are all going smoothly for our young lovers BUT FUCK THE KGB BLEW UP THEIR CAR FUUUUUUUUUCK! Cue 60 minutes of run-and-gun follow, because they’re both spies, geddit?
Mel: OK whoa, I don’t think I watch the same kinds of movies you do. I have to say though, I am a SUCKA for “love on the run”. It’s one of my favourite tropes. The “two people are forced to go on the run together and then they gradually fall in lurve” story. Classic example, The Bourne Identity.
Although now I think about it, maybe I’m just really into Matt Damon as that kind of vanilla guy I just mentioned. Except he’s Dangerous Vanilla in that film.
Anthony: I’m not strictly being accurate, but there are a lot of action movies that start off as kind of romcom or romance films, but then one of the protagonists turns out to be a super-lethal killer on the run and the other one tags along reloading guns, et cetera. Ugh, I just kind of described that shithouse American Ultra film.
Mel: I never saw that. Mainly because of the stoner angle.
Anthony: KEEP IT THAT WAY. Turns out he’s got to be a stoner to keep suppressed all his murder skillz.
Mel: Ugh, gross.
Anthony: What have you got against stoners?
Mel: I just think they are not as interesting as they think they are. I am still so scarred by that TERRIBLE Danny McBride film Your Highness.
Anthony: I mean, I’m a drunk and therefore the stoner’s natural enemy, but I have been forced to accept that ‘drunk comedy’ is currently dead in our society and therefore the only acceptable drug comedy is stoner comedy. Though Your Highness was not acceptable in any way.
Mel: When was the last good ‘drunk comedy’?
Anthony: Leaving Las Vegas?
Mel: That was a comedy?
Anthony: I laughed.