It’s that time of year again, when guys dread having to let their female partner/friend/spouse choose the movie while they fight back tears having to pass up another testosterone-charged action film (like “Drive” or “300”). Well, guess what? There are a few I thought are just right for snuggling together on the couch with a chilled glass of wine. They have witty, lightweight scripts, without the cringe-inducing mawkish, saccharine dialect of films like “The Ugly Truth (2009). To me comedy is the most difficult to write, since humor is a very delicate but essential part of our wiring! These recommendations listed below have some juicy lines!
These are six you can rent (besides the classic old nuggets you all know) without feeling like it was a complete waste of time. (Unfortunately, none of these are available on Netflix Instant Queue.) If you’ve seen them already, then watch them again or hunker down and watch one of the classics like “Four Weddings and a Funeral” or “Annie Hall”.
Here are my favorites from 2008-1011:
1) “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008)–What woman does not like Javier Bardem? Woody Allen’s script is one of his best, with a stunning cast including Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz (in an Oscar-winning role) as Bardem’s erotic, creative and bizarre wife.
2) “I Love You, Man” (2009)– Just as much a “man-child” buddy flick along with “40-Year Old Virgin” or “Crazy, Stupid Love”, this rom-com features the ever-reliable Paul Rudd playing a recently engaged guy who has no one for his best man. Jason Segel plays the stranger (with his usual perfect comedic timing) who agrees to stand in at the wedding party. I don’t know any male over the age of 21 who doesn’t absolutely adore this film. So, it is not a chick-flick, in the narrow sense of the term.
3) “500 Days of Summer” (2009)–Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hopeless but clueless romantic who has been unceremoniously dumped by the love of his life, Summer (the zany Zooey Deschanel). So, he starts to explore the days of their romance, determined to win her back. This one is quirky with two of the finest quirky young actors in indie films.
4) “No Strings Attached” (2011)– Has the term “friends with benefits” been bounced around enough? Well, here it is again with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in an arrangement that begins with both players satisfied and enjoying each other’s company. Surprise–surprise– the relationship becomes more one-sided in comfort zone. Most of the dialogue seems natural yet slyly humorous. An entertaining little sleeper!
5) “How Do You Know” (2010) –To me Reese Witherspoon can work miracles with even the flattest of scripts, but fortunately this one has some worthy bits of dialogue. In this sports-themed rom-com, she plays an older (30!) softball player without a game. To underscore the loss she feels not being a part of softball/baseball, she soon falls hot and heavy for a professional baseball player (Owen Wilson) whose wealth he uses to impress, and a businessman (Paul Rudd) whose career is marginal at best. Great cast and some original dialogue by the at-times genius comic writer-director James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets) makes this rom-com stand out from the pack.
6) “Horrible Bosses” (2011) – This film could be considered more of a “man-child” buddy flick than a romantic comedy. Three of the best “stunted-development” comics–Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day– play miserable wretches whose bosses are a living hell for them. Their maniacal supervisors (Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey) spice up this over-the-top comedy. A lot of fun to watch!
So, Happy Valentine’s Day everyone–and let me know which comedies you liked in the past two or three years!