Comedy, 104 Minutes, 2010
I criticize romantic comedies a lot. Sometimes I fear that I’m too harsh. Then I remember how utterly shitty most of them are and I worry that I’ve been too forgiving. The thing that most of them forget about is that falling in love is supposed to be a good thing. It also has to be the main thing. Opposites attracting are nice; fishes all up and out of water can be interesting and the fine line between love and hate can lead to some entertaining situations. Most rom-coms pluck one of these tropes off the shelf, spend all their time on it and sleep-walk through the rest.
This one doesn’t completely sidestep the issue, but it does an excellent job of compartmentalizing it. The hook is simple enough: Kirk, a regular guy with a bit of an inferiority complex and a lack of motivation, finds himself inexplicably in a relationship with Molly, an insanely attractive, intelligent and upwardly mobile woman. The couple builds their unlikely relationship while fending off the meddling of their well-meaning, but incredulous friends.
The premise could easily overwhelm the movie but the script does a good job of relegating it to the excellent supporting cast of friends. In contrast the scenes between Kirk and Molly are, for the greater part, both genuinely moving and often pretty damn funny. Their problems are exaggerated but they ring true. The characters don’t offer many surprises but are nicely multi-layered and realistically complex. They’re flawed but meaningfully so and not fatally. Importantly they’re also immensely likable and easy to root for.
The movie succeeds because it focuses on the characters falling in love. It shows us why they should and then shows them doing it. It’s a simple, effective formula very often ignored. Rom-coms may be a wasteland of cliché and mediocrity but there is an oasis every once in a while. Not often enough to make you feel safe but often enough to make you trudge through the bleak expanse to the next one.