Notes For The Writer Who…Has Written a Predictable Romcom
We’ve got a number of challenges here but foremost among them is how to write a romantic comedy that is truly unique and compelling. The challenge with romcom is that it has been done to death and beyond. We have to look at the function of the romantic comedy – it is a genre that takes on love between men and women and usually uses the zeitgeist of the era as the vehicle for that. Romantic comedies examine relationships between men and women. They believe in love but they get there in unique ways. Romcoms are a way to discuss love.
If you think about some of the best, most entertaining romantic comedies, we see some interesting takes on love and marriage:
My Best Friend’s Wedding: A really ground breaking romcom in that the main character does NOT get the guy in the end. When she finds out that a man she wasn’t really in love with anyway has chosen someone else, her ego goes nuts and she tries to stop the wedding. The main character comes away from the movie being more centered and grounded and not chasing marriage for the sake of marriage. Rather, she sees her real best friend in a new light and with more appreciation of another kind of love and companionship.
When Harry Met Sally: This movie asks a great question: can men and women be friends if they have sex? This very funny, very modern tale examines that idea over a number of years and relationships and concludes that love can grow from friendship but that yes, sex does change everything.
Knocked Up: Can a totally mismatched couple with a spontaneous, unplanned pregnancy actually make a go of it? This romcom is very hip and zeitgeisty and has of course the imprint of Judd Apatow and his particular sense of humor.
The 40 Year Old Virgin: This movie asks whether being more experienced in love and sex is an asset or not. Again Apatow. True love emerges in the end.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: This romcom simply asks if a couple from totally different ethnic backgrounds can make it work. Very simple. Very fun.
So what do you have to say about love, relationships and marriage? A lot, I see – but what are you saying about it that is new? What is your take that has not been done before?
A good way “in” is to ask yourself how YOU feel about love and marriage. Is it good? Is it possible these days? Or is it old-fashioned? Does it need a new paradigm?
Treat yourself to Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas