Day 37: Is the Sappy Romantic Comedy a Necessary Cathartic Device?

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for the thoughtful, insightful comments about my “girly girl” dilemma.  You guys are so smart!

I was listening to NPR yesterday and “This American Life” featured a piece about an underground phenomenon: apparently, many intelligent, cultured men and women cry watching mediocre or bad romantic comedies on planes.  Who knew?  Except, um, me.

I like to think I have good taste in movies.  Among my list of favorites are some hits with critics: “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Casablanca”, “Heat”, “Blue”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “The Insider”, and “The Lord of the Rings Triology”. (What? It won Oscars!)

However, I am a sucker for bad romantic comedies.  I have seen “Sweet Home Alabama” a number of times (it was not coincidentally mentioned as a movie that makes men cry on the program) and get teary each time during the beach scene.  I probably have watched “Steel Magnolias” 705 times.  I will weep at the end, again, the 706th time I see it.

The movies that make grown men cry, as mentioned in the NPR piece, were: “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Freaky Friday” and, hilariously, “Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights”, which had an urbane male movie critic in tears during the final dance showdown.  Now, I should explain that the main narrator, who confessed to his own tears, triggered during an AMEX commercial, tried to explain the phenomenon away by blaming it on flying.  Only during a plane ride did these sophisticated, normally unemotional people cry during these movies.

But I am not so sure I buy that explanation.  I think that they get “stuck” watching these films as part of the inflight entertainment and get caught up in them because of that.  I also think these saccharine films serve a universal purpose: by tapping into our deep-seated emotions, like anger and sadness, they help us to release these emotions.

I decided to test out this theory by watching “Valentine’s Day”.  I remember hearing rumors that it was dog poo. And it is.

Critical observations on “Valentine’s Day”:

1. Ashton Kutcher is a TERRIBLE actor!  How does he land leading roles?

2. Jessica Biel is surprisingly likeable.

3. Apparently LA is a city that contains only 20 people, and they run into each other again and again.

4. The director would like us to believe that a publicist on the day of a huge press conference and a florist on his biggest business day of the year somehow have plenty of time to mope around about their personal problems.

5. It must be said again: The guy in my third grade play about trees, who played Redwood #5, is a better actor than Ashton Kutcher.

Yet, there is one scene that was meticulously and perfectly edited, and very effective.  It’s a scene in which Jennifer Garner’s character (spoiler alert!) discovers her boyfriend is married.  She comes across a heart-shaped pinata and beats the crap out of it.  I actually stood and screamed “Yes!” as she demolished it.  The music playing in the scene is from “Monsoon Wedding”, I believe. (That was a much superior movie, by the way.)

And I also cried when a long-separated mother and son are reunited.

I hated myself later.


Filed under Discovering joy

3 responses to “Day 37: Is the Sappy Romantic Comedy a Necessary Cathartic Device?

  1. I cry at EVERYTHING that people cry at. Everything. That tear jerker moment, meant for me. Always. I remember once I watched My Life (Michael Keaton flick about a man making a movie for the unborn child he wouldn’t meet because he was dying) and at the end I was crying so hard a woman came and chided me, thinking I was laughing. When she saw my face, tears stained and covered in snot, she was mortified and apologized profusely. That is the kind of crying I do. It’s bad. I cry at commercials sometimes too. I’m a sucker for that stuff.

    And I’m a sucker for the shitty romantic comedy. I totally am. My man won’t watch them with me but when I’m alone, I’ll totally put the classics (or not so classics) on. It’s just good to watch that stuff sometimes.

    PS – I LOVE the Lord of the Ring Trilogy. IT ROCKED!!!!!

  2. I really have a soft spot for romantic movies. But the tears more often roll around at the drama ones, especially real stories. If you have seen ‘My Sisters Keeper’ you know what I mean!
    I’ll check out the titles I don’t recognize from this post.

  3. Great post. I cry in some movies, more lately since my miscarriages. I agree that movies can be cathartic. However, when I first read the title of your post, my fried brain substituted Catholic. It wasn’t until I’d read the entire post and re-read the title that I realized my mistake. Silly me. 🙂

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