Romantic Comedy Films Syllabus Creative Writing

Published: 2021-06-18 06:46:21
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Description
Romantic comedies are a specific film genre that includes productions made in America and elsewhere. They have been a staple in the film industry at least since the introduction of sound, and possibly before. They are consistently popular, usually feature well-liked actors and actresses, and are generally considered formula projects, not art. The topic of romantic comedies is usually characters who have not yet fallen in love and married, who fall in love during the course of the film. These films use humor to make the circumstance of being lonely less painful for the lonesome characters while they journey on their way to true love. The films have cues built in, not to mention publicity ahead of time, that lets the audience know that the lonesome protagonists will be happy by the end of the film. This element allows the audience to relax and enjoy the self-deprecating humor and unhappiness of the characters. Courtship is the dominant plot in all romantic comedy films. True love is the predominant theme. Sex is a cue that marriage will be accomplished (Grindon 2014).
Background
The films Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached are romantic comedies released in 2011. The combined protagonists, Emma-Adam (No Strings Attached) and Jamie-Dylan (Friends with Benefits) all are incredibly attractive and successful with rewarding careers. In both films the women decide to have casual sex with the man while still maintaining a friendship, but that does not include romance and marriage. The men agree to this situation, then decide they are in love with the women and want more. Thus, the role of women as the ones desperate for love and marriage, and men as the ones who just want sex, are reversed. These films have basically the same message; the only real difference is a twist on the true love theme. In Friends With Benefits, they meet their true love when they are children; it just takes time to realize it. In No Strings Attached, finding true love happens when one least expects it, it just takes time to realize it has happened. Both ideas are reassuring and comforting to an audience filled with young women hoping to find true love.
Cotter, David, Joan M. Hermsen, and Reeve Vanneman. "The End of the Gender Revolution? Gender Role Attitudes from 1977 to 2008." American Journal of Sociology. 117.1 (2011): 259-289. Print.
Grindon, Leger. “American Romantic Comedy.” Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. www.oxfordbibliographies.com. Internet resource.
Lazarus, Clifford. "Why Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends." Psychology Today. (2010). www.psychologytoday.com. Internet Resource.
Merryman, Keith, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer, Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Nolan Gould, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson, David A. Newman, Liz Glotzer, Jerry Zucker, and Janet Zucker. Friends with Benefits. Culver City, Calif: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2011.
Milchan, Arnon, Steven Reuther, J F. Lawton, Garry Marshall, James N. Howard, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Ralph Bellamy, Jason Alexander, Giacomo L. San, and Hector Elizondo. Pretty Woman. Burbank, CA: Touchstone Home Video, 2005.
Reitman, Ivan, Joe Medjuck, Jeffrey Clifford, Elizabeth Meriwether, Mike Samonek, Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby, Ludacris, and John Debney. No Strings Attached. Hollywood, Calif: Paramount Pictures, 2011.
Shumway, David R. Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis. New York: New York University Press, 2003. eBook.
Calendar
Theme: Plot
Emma-Adam (No Strings Attached) are brought together when a drunk Adam accidentally calls Emma. Contemplate the humor in Adam discovering his father is having an affair with Adam’s girlfriend. Examine why an audience would think this is funny rather than a parental act of betrayal.
Merryman, Keith, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer, Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Nolan Gould, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson, David A. Newman, Liz Glotzer, Jerry Zucker, and Janet Zucker. Friends with Benefits. Culver City, Calif: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2011.
Reitman, Ivan, Joe Medjuck, Jeffrey Clifford, Elizabeth Meriwether, Mike Samonek, Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby, Ludacris, and John Debney. No Strings Attached. Hollywood, Calif: Paramount Pictures, 2011.
In Friends With Benefits the couple watch a romantic comedy. Examine how this sets the scene for comedy and irony in the real film.
Merryman, Keith, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer, Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Nolan Gould, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson, David A. Newman, Liz Glotzer, Jerry Zucker, and Janet Zucker. Friends with Benefits. Culver City, Calif: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2011.
Reitman, Ivan, Joe Medjuck, Jeffrey Clifford, Elizabeth Meriwether, Mike Samonek, Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby, Ludacris, and John Debney. No Strings Attached. Hollywood, Calif: Paramount Pictures, 2011.
Theme: Role Reversal
Role reversal is not a new phenomenon and it is often seen as humorous. Role reversal has topic of literature for centuries. Advancements in film production and World War II caused a lot of speculation on role reversal (Cotter et al 261). Because women entered previously barred professions during the war, the possibility of true role reversal was speculated about and commented on in popular culture productions. After the end of the war, when the men wanted the good paying jobs back, women were summarily dismissed and told that they would be happier at home. These themes have been consistently presented in film and these two films represent a not too original twist on the subject. There are only slight shifts in the point-of-view.
Cotter, David, Joan M. Hermsen, and Reeve Vanneman. "The End of the Gender Revolution? Gender Role Attitudes from 1977 to 2008." American Journal of Sociology. 117.1 (2011): 259-289. Print.
Merryman, Keith, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer, Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Nolan Gould, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson, David A. Newman, Liz Glotzer, Jerry Zucker, and Janet Zucker. Friends with Benefits. Culver City, Calif: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2011.
Reitman, Ivan, Joe Medjuck, Jeffrey Clifford, Elizabeth Meriwether, Mike Samonek, Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes, Kevin Kline, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby, Ludacris, and John Debney. No Strings Attached. Hollywood, Calif: Paramount Pictures, 2011.
Mid Term Exam:
- How is the walk of shame handled by the four protagonists Emma, Adam, Jamie, and Dylan? Why does the audience find this funny instead of sad?
- Do you think the four protagonists all assumed the relationships would remain sex only?
- It would seem that at least some of the protagonists were determined not to fall in love, why?
- Why is the story of lonely people funny instead of heartbreaking?
- This films depict people in embarrassing situations so why does the audience laugh at their undignified behavior instead of cringe?
- Why are romantic comedies given less credibility in the film industry than other films, including other comedies?
Theme: Prince Charming
Emma (Portman) and Jamie (Kunis) are beautiful and super successful. They are sexually and professionally liberated in a 1960s-1970s sense. They both have great careers traditionally held by men. They both willingly admit they want to have sex, and lots of it. However, neither one is really interested in a committed romantic relationship. Emma does not want complications and Jamie wants to have sex while waiting for her Prince Charming. This makes Jamie much like the Julia Roberts said character in Pretty Woman. She is willing to have sex with Richard Gere, in her case for money, but she is still waiting to meet her Prince Charming. When Gere offers to make Julia his high paid mistress, she refuses. She is still holding out for her Prince Charming. The message is that even streetwalkers hold out for true love, and get it. If these role representations are realistically expected to be something young women relate to then it suggests that Cotter et al are correct in their conclusion that “There are only small attitude differences separating those born right after World War II from their most recent cohorts (Cotter et al 261).
Milchan, Arnon, Steven Reuther, J F. Lawton, Garry Marshall, James N. Howard, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Ralph Bellamy, Jason Alexander, Giacomo L. San, and Hector Elizondo. Pretty Woman. Burbank, CA: Touchstone Home Video, 2005.
Theme: Friendships between Men and Women
The idea of friendships between members of the opposite sex goes back so far in literary history that some scholars attribute the modern notion to the demise of marriages based on inheritance rights and dowries. In David Shumway’s book, Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis, the author argues that women have essentially been socialized to transition from viewing marriage as a function of property distribution to viewing it as way to fulfill their sexual urges and desire for intimacy (Shumway, 2003). What this means, in terms of these two films, is that Emma and Jamie must be super women who do not need men except to enjoy sex. However, in the end they discover true love. Of course, the men who Emma and Jamie have sex with yet reject as marriage partners happen to be good-looking and successful. The scenario would not appeal if the men were toads and bad in bed.
Shumway, David R. Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis. New York: New York University Press, 2003. eBook.
Theme: Casual Sex
The debate about whether or not men and women can have platonic friendships usually is answered in the negative. An article by Clifford Lazarus in Psychology Today restates this often-stated conclusion. Lazarus argues that heterosexual males cannot view women from a platonic perspective. When women try to have close platonic friendships with men, the men assume it is really an invitation for sex. Lazarus writes that "friends with benefits" and "hooking up" falsely implies women can embrace the idea of casual sex (Lazarus, 2010). In fact, according to Lazarus, casual sex is fine with men, however, women “are genetically predisposed to cultivate deeper, lasting relationships” (Lazarus, 2010). This explains why Emma and Jamie ultimate discover that they are in love with their respective male friends and sexual partners.
Lazarus, Clifford. "Why Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends." Psychology Today. (2010). www.psychologytoday.com. Internet Resource.
Theme: Happy EndingsBefore the happy ending, there is the break-up, then the man comes back to convince the woman that she is his one true love and hopes he is worthy of her. In Friends With Benefits, he orchestrates a flash mob in Grand Central Station. In No Strings Attached, the near-death of a parent brings them together to admit their true feelings. The message implicit in these films is not one of women’s liberation nor is it one that tells women to stay virgins until marriage. The message is a middle ground one that tells women, once again, that they can have it all.
Grindon, Leger. “American Romantic Comedy.” Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. www.oxfordbibliographies.com. Internet resource.
Why do young women flock to these films? How do they know that after all the fun and disappointment is over, the ending will be a happy committed monogamous relationship with a wonderful and handsome man?

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