Romantic comedies, better off known as romcoms are some of the easiest films to love. Some of my favorites include: You’ve Got Mail, Never Been Kissed, 27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days are all so well loved because they’re just fantastic. Couple meets, they share jokes/stupidity, realization, happily ever after. The end. They’ve got fairly simple budgets, and all box office profits ranged anywhere from double their budget to almost quadrupling it. Not to mention how many of us have copies of the films on disc, or simply find them on a streamer to re-watch.
Modern theatrical romcoms as well have been super easy to watch, and love. Crazy, Stupid Love, Crazy Rich Asians, No Strings Attached, and This Means War are also highlights of the 2010s, with rewatchability for me never-ending. Even some of the streaming romcoms to end the 2010s were phenomenal. Netflix helped reignite the genre after a lull and dumped some impressive money into it. So why is it so hard for streaming services to get the romcom right recently?
The two most recent romcoms to hit Peacock and Netflix are Meet Cute, with Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco as the couple in focus, Gary and Sheila, and Love in the Villa with Kat Graham and Tom Hopper starring as Julie Hutton and Charlie Fletcher. Both are led extremely well by the female leads, with the males floundering behind them. They’re both charismatic, Cuoco in particular is immaculate with the script she’s given.
And that, my friends, is where the magic ends. There’s little to no charisma between the couples in each film, and the plots have some big issues. Love in the Villa tries to follow an older plot while having Julie fully obsessed with Romeo and Juliet. One of the worst love stories of all time, and that’s what our romantic lead thinks is the idealistic love story. Canceled, immediately.
Meet Cute takes a big risk in throwing more depth into Sheila, but instead of allowing it to flesh her out, the script writes her as a borderline psychopath instead, turning you off from her immensely. Not to mention, when she’s obsessed about their meet cute, she can’t stick around to enjoy it. No instead, she must continue to reveal over and over again each night that she’s a time traveler and kills her old self every time. We don’t even see the first night they meet.
Most streaming films I’ve watched have always struggled with a few pacing issues. Things happen in bits, with lots of lulls in between. Sometimes that’s solved with a good actor allowing you to get additional details. Romcoms need a good pace, and more importantly, a good couple, with a ton of chemistry to back it up. And right now more than ever, it feels like a lot of the actors involved are picking these roles up because they feel like they’re an easy paycheck. They’re not diving in full force as they should, and it’s a shame.
Overall, the rom-com formula should, in theory, be one of the easiest to replicate. Maybe it’s just my taste in ones that have detracted from my experience in the genre as of late, but I’ve been so disappointed every time I find a new one to watch that’s streaming based. There’s been a lot of promises, with not a lot of return, when romcoms should be one of the easiest films to take in and love. With a lack of chemistry, and pacing issues galore, the latest romcoms I’ve taken in just leave me less likely to return. They don’t even show happily ever after! Risky choices are risks for a reason, and that’s why sometimes, it’s safer to stick with what we know. I need the magic back in romcoms. –Katie Rentschler
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