Julia Roberts became a star with Pretty Woman and then went to become a success with Runaway Bride. Nerd-eutiful Anne Hathaway became a gorgeous princess with Princess Diaries 1 and 2. Raising Helen had Kate Hudson in one of my favorite family romcom movies – about a carefree, ambitious woman understanding the responsibilities of a grown-up.
Gary Marshall, a great director who gave us grounded characters in wholesome movies like the ones above, seems to have somewhat lost his mojo. His recent holiday movies (starting from the year 2010) have been rather difficult to watch, more specifically Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve and the 2016 blocklustre Mother’s Day which I had reviewed the other day. They have all been made commemorating a certain holiday and are supposed to represent love, family reunions, happiness and bonds but these movies show none of that. Mr. Marshall, who seems to be following the Love, Actually rule (my theory, no empirical evidence of this) of having many plots and featured around holidays has turned to a lazy style of making movies which doubles the number of cast and stars but doesn’t give the audience the quality that his earlier movies had.
In this article, he gives his 5 mantras to making a great romcom but those are the mantras are not working today. Maybe it is time to change the secret ingredients? Lets look at the rules that he swears by and see what is wrong with them in his recent movies.
1. Sentiment Sells: Well, yes and no. Sentiments which portray real life makes a connect with the audience. Not multiple plots stitched together so bad that sentiments go out of the window. All the holiday movies Gary Marshall has directed in the last few years have just too many things going on and you just don’t have that bond with the characters.
2. Keep it Real: If ‘all is well‘, ‘everything will turn out fine‘, ‘its okay to be a racist and joke about it‘ and ‘life goes on irrespective of whatever mistake you have made‘ are your real life scenarios then yes, these movies are very real. But life is much more isn’t it? Its the grey that makes everyday different, none of which features in these overly sugar-sweet films.
3. The Kiss is Everything: Chemistry between the co-stars? Well there are so many characters in these movies that you hardly get to the chemistry of anyone in it and more importantly, you don’t care about any character in the movie which is a shame. His characters in Pretty Woman, Raising Helen, Princess Diaries were so well grounded and rounded that you associated with them. Not the case now.
4. Big Cast = Big Event: I have always asked myself this. How do such busy, famous stars agree to act in such blubbering movies? Do they read the script and go ‘Wow, this is a fabulous story and an Oscar worthy role. I should do this‘? Or do they say ‘Well it’s Gary Marshall. He is the reason I got to be who I got to be, so lets do it. Anyways it will be a breeze. Its such a short screen time that shooting will be over in a jiffy‘. I let you decide.
There is also an explosion of ads which is understandable because I am sure it is not cheap to get so many stars in one movie. So what do you do? Have so many product placements in the movie that it feel like a long commercial break. Check out this scene from Mother’s Day and notice the M&Ms. Too many to be in one scene?
5. It’s About the Girl: Which girl exactly? There are so many. Jokes aside, if you take his earlier movies it was about ‘A’ girl – one, un, ek. So they worked. But the recent ones have too many to care about any.
We want the old Gary Marshall romcom movies back that were simple yet complex, had a good story, seemed real and grounded and made us watch it over and over again. What do you say? #LetsBringTheSimpleBack
— First published on Creators.Co