Romantic comedies return with A-list celebrities after a long drought for the genre


Romantic-comedy fans rejoice: bigger-budget rom-coms are back.

Friday, the lost city, starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum (with at least one Brad Pitt appearance) is hitting theaters across Canada.

Bullock plays Loretta Sage, an author who writes romance novels starring a Fabio-esque Tatum. She ends up being kidnapped by a billionaire and must help find a city literally lost (a nice nod to the years 1984 Romanticize the stone).

The movie has a budget estimated at 74 million US dollarsaccording to Deadline, one of the many bets streaming services and movie studios are placing on rom-coms this year.

Julia Roberts and George Clooney ticket to paradise will land in theaters this fall, while Reese Witherspoon Your place or mine is in the works for Netflix later this year.

LGBTQ rom-coms with big names are also in the works. Saturday Night Live star Bowen Yang directs upcoming romantic comedy fire island (based on Pride and Prejudice), and Billy Eichner’s stab in the genre, Brothers, will be released this fall.

The impressive slate of rom-coms comes after a few years of limited options.

Marry Me launches the return of romantic comedies

“I think the death of the romantic comedy is more like the death of the mid-budget studio movie,” said Scott Meslow, author of From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of Romantic Comedy.

“Either you make a $300 million Spider-Man movie, or you make a $10 million movie that might have a shot at the Best Picture Oscar. Romantic comedies are right in the middle of the market. gap… I think the studios are basically trying to figure out how they can get back into romantic comedies.”

Marry me, starring Jennifer Lopez, unofficially kicked off the genre’s 2022 comeback in February. The film received mixed reviews, but it made more than US$49 million worldwide (with a budget of around US$23 million, according to Deadline).

Earlier this month, Comcast CEO and President Brian Roberts said the film was on US streaming service Peacock’s. “the film of the day and date” the most streamed according to Variety.

Meslow says Marry Me wasn’t the return to form he was hoping for for Lopez, who has starred in some of the most beloved romantic comedies of the past decades, including The wedding planner and Made in Manhattan.

But it signals renewed investment in the genre from studios and audiences alike.

Make way for low-budget films

Toronto filmmaker Faran Moradi hopes interest will extend to low-budget productions as well.

His new romantic comedy, Tehrantwas made on a shoestring budget and centers on the love story of two students who are part of Toronto’s Iranian community.

Tehranto was made on a shoestring budget and centers on the love story of two students from Toronto’s Iranian community. It stars Sammy Azero, left, and Mo Zeighami, right. (Canadian Film Festival)

Moradi says making a film that had aspects of romance and comedy was the most realistic way to tell this story.

“It was just about authenticity,” he said. “I feel like we’re going to see more and more of it, where the rom-com genre is kind of reinvented, where it kind of moves away from that fairy tale way of telling a story and becoming more authentic and more real.”

Well-done recent romantic comedies

Jill Wilson, arts reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, is a longtime fan of the genre. She says that while there haven’t been a ton of new rom-coms capturing the attention of audiences, there are a few that stand out.

She points to Netflix Always be my maybe (2019) as a fun star with great chemistry between leads and co-writers Ali Wong and Randall Park.

Randall Park and Ali Wong in a scene from Always Be My Maybe. He’s one of the few recent stars of the rom-com genre, according to Winnipeg Free Press arts reporter Jill Wilson. (Netflix/Associated Press)

“You sincerely believe they have a long-term relationship and you believe in its potential,” she said. “You support them.”

Another standout for Wilson is the 2019 Rebel Wilson vehicle. Isn’t it romantic. It’s a smart film that took romantic comedy tropes and exploited them for humor, she said.

“It’s a parody of a romantic comedy, and yet they know the genre so well and are so fond of it that anything about it, even if they don’t care, really works,” Wilson said. .

For Wilson, the ingredients of a great romantic comedy are good chemistry, genuinely funny actors, and enough architectural envy to sustain about 90 minutes of screening.

“Despite the fact that the word ‘com’ is right there, [rom-coms] are very often not funny. It’s just kind of company of three level misunderstandings. I think you have to have people who are really good comedic actors,” Wilson said.

A TV standout in recent years includes the BBC TV series Starstruck, which is available on Crave in Canada. It has a premise similar to Marry me but is celebrated by critics as a hit modern rom-com series.

Like its successful predecessors, Starstruck is well versed in rom-com tropes and plays to a sophisticated audience of people who really love the genre. Creator Rose Matafeo builds chemistry-filled romantic moments for her leads Jessie (Matafeo) and Tom Kapoor (Nikesh Patel), while finding time for a few meaningful subplots for the rest of the cast.

It’s also hard to deny the on-screen spark between Matafeo and Patel.

Meslow says, for him, that’s the key.

“I would say the most important thing is really just the two stars in the center of [a rom-com]. You can’t get people interested in a romance if it didn’t have that chemistry,” Meslow said.

“It’s no coincidence that we run into Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan a few times or Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. to define.”