There have been a few classic romantic comedies which have impressed me over the years: 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Harry Met Sally, You Got Mail. The essential plot is about how the man, after a circuitous journey usually plus some time falling in love with others, eventually ends up with the woman of his dreams. After all these rom-coms should end well, and leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling, regardless of whether real life is like that. How about a rom-com which is funny, warm and yet reflective, and give you more than a topic or two to talk about when the show ends? Will it work if it goes off the tried and test formulae a little?
So here is a movie, where from about the fifth minute you know the main actor, Ryan Reynolds, is divorced from the love of his life, and is on his way to pick up his precocious daughter who just had her first sex education lesson, and now knows she did not come from storks. The story is about how the daughter squeezes out the story of how her parents met from her dad, who reluctantly tell her through a series of stories of all the women her dad met and loved in his life. So there is a bit of guess who as he does not tell which is which, and the story arc goes through a time in the 90s where Clinton runs for president, and his infamous Lewinski affair.
This is a quite a twist on the romance bit and leads you through a few twists and turns in the protagonist's life. I half wanted to dislike it for the amorous and almost free-love nature of the parts where there is a lot of sleeping about, with scant regard for the institution of marriage, but this is reflective of America and perhaps other societies too. It will either make you queasy and turn off the TV or accept that is what American life is like. The lead actors and even the daughter Maya, do very well, with good synergy to weave a story that is part fiction and all life. Clever flashbacks and painting it as a story remind me of the technique employed in Princess Bride, but this is more dark and it isn't an action movie.
The show grows on you, and you can watch it again to get the various nuances in the dialogue, the mock proposal which Ryan does to Isla is one highlight, and guys will do well to take notes.
It is perhaps a reflection of the fact that true love does not run smooth, and that you may love more than one person, or worse, when you think that you found the right one, after marriage and all, the quarrels begin and it all does not end well. It can also be about betrayal, by the closest to you. It can also be a reflection on life, that even after the worst events (like your best friend sleeping with your beloved), or after the dust has settled on the separation, life does go on and possibly, the journey continues, with potholes of sadness along the way, but plenty of memorable scenery, and the right company to make that long journey, a good one. But it also forces the Christian romantic to realise he or she has a choice, which is to accept such shows as status quo, or have the staying power to enjoy the long walk together with the same person, through all kinds of ups and downs. You can quit or stick with the same person, and ask God to continue helping both of you keep the love going.
Plot: good chick flick I guess, but it will definitely lead to lots of discussion if you bring your partner, or you can quietly watch it on a plane and deny all knowledge of it if you are the red-neck bloke and too macho to watch such a movie.. or feel free to share your thoughts with another lady --- 4/5
Action - zip
Chick Factor - plenty of eye candy Isla Fisher is a mix of innocent sweet and overpowering sensuality -- 4/5
Rent or Buy or forget it: depends on your stand on morals, and whether you have objections to romantic flicks, but worth a rent at least. 4/5