To all the romantics out there, stay tuned for this one.
Do you like romantic comedies from the late ’80s, early ’90s, and early 2000s? Are Julia Roberts’ characters from My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) and Pretty Woman (1990) your ultimate goals? When JLo looks at Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner (2001) do you become blissfully unaware of the world around you?
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If your answer is ‘yes’ then you should know the deets about an upcoming book that hits the trifecta of rom-coms.
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Erin Carlson’s new book I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy focuses on American filmmaker and writer, Nora Ephron, along with her three hit romantic comedies: When Harry Met Sally (1989), You’ve Got Mail (1998), and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). These three box office hits brought a new wave of romance to the big screen and Ephron had her stamp on all of them with You’ve Got Mail raking in the most at the box office. Something about it all worked.
Erin Carlson is going to focus on exactly that.
The unmistakable identity of the Ephron rom-coms brought the genre back to life and conquered cinematic feats. Time has a list of top 10 quotes from 1989 and it’s no surprise that the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” is on there. Carlson discusses the writer and filmmaker’s upbringing, relationships, career, and how she inspired a whole new generation of female actors in Hollywood. She revived an entire genre for the film industry and gained a huge following. And although people still love these cult favorites, Ephron’s distinct style and standard for the romantic comedy seems to be lost nowadays.
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We all know the sour rap that rom-coms have gotten over the past few years. Perhaps some would say the last of the good ones were in the early 2000s, but what about now? Ephron’s cinematic features seem to be a thing of the past. Nowadays, Hollywood isn’t portraying the lead female role in a romantic comedy quite like they used to. Despite the frustration the girl would feel and how much trouble the guy would cause, in the end, it all worked out. No matter what.
Now, the women are sometimes portrayed with the same mindset as the male character. Movies like No Strings Attached (2011) and Valentine’s Day (2010) have such a contrast to movies like Never Been Kissed (1999) or 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). So, there’s no doubt that When Harry Met Sally is a far cry from anything in the past six, seven, or eight years.
Of course, we always want a strong female presence, but does that mean we have to lose all sense of romance? Those movies are still fun to watch, but does it really stand out or leave you with anything lasting? Have we become cynical and too realistic?
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What happened to Jerry Maguire dropping lines like, “You had me at hello”? Or in She’s All That (1999), what about the look Freddie Prinze Jr. gives Rachel Leigh Cook when she walks down the stairs in a new dress? Maybe when Kate Hudson realizes she’s falling for Matthew McConaughey in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003)?
And yes, realistically, betting on a girl is absolutely heinous, even if you do fall in love with her after. And standing outside someone’s window throwing pebbles or playing a boom box (Say Anything, 1989) isn’t exactly cute. It can be creepy… Like, call-the-police creepy when it’s real life.
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But it’s a movie; it’s an escape from reality, just like books. Isn’t that the whole point? It’s cheesy, too good to be true, and you may roll your eyes once or twice. But it’s a break from the everyday life, just like many other films. Maybe real life has beaten the rom-com to a pulp, maybe Hollywood and society are just different. Probably both.
Yet, Erin Carlson reminds us of the work it took to make ravishing look real. The nostalgic, dream-like bliss of Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies seems to have fluttered away, along with the sighs of all hopeless romantics.
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