Monday, August 27, 2007


I'm not generally against romances featuring a quirky male lead, provided that the lead doesn't seem too self-consciously quirky. But when said quirky lead seems not so much quirky as oh-my-lord-get-this-man-in-therapy-now crazy then it's not so cute. I'm not saying that such characters shouldn't exist in film. I'm saying that they shouldn't exist in movies that conclude in the manner of happily-ever-after romances. I'm sorry, but if I'm going to believe that the smart, nice heroine should be with this man, I'm going to need a lot more convincing than the fact that he loves her and doesn't lie to her, unlike her sleazy on-again-off-again ex. The fact that he's willing to try and get over his many, many issues doesn't make up for the fact that he's, y'know, crazy.

I feel like this movie has plenty of promise. Mandy Moore is likable and a better actress than I would have thought. Billy Crudup is always good, if not particularly likable. The dialogue (Blogger wants me to spell this "dialog." I refuse, Blogger!) is witty and interesting. Even the love story could work if done differently. The movie actually has a lot going for it. Which is why it's frustrating that it fails to deliver on that promise.

In her New York Times review, Jeannette Catsoulis writes:
That weird exhalation you hear at the multiplex these days is the sound of female characters settling for less than they deserve. Following on the wildly successful antifeminist heels of Knocked Up, Hollywood is falling over itself to introduce beautiful, smart young women to useless, possibly brain-damaged young men.
I felt like we, as viewers, are supposed to accept that Crudup's character has somehow earned the love of the heroine, has somehow become worthy of it. When the fact is, he's still a nut, and you're just left with a bitter taste in your mouth. Perhaps the point should be that he's not good enough for her, and he's not remotely normal, but she loves him anyway and that's a good thing. But if that's the case, then it would be nice if the movie acknowledged that and showed us why we should be happy about it instead of going the typical romance way. Instead, the only way to see him as a good guy is in comparison to her cad-ish ex and the other unpleasant people who populate a film in which only the heroine is a genuinely pleasant character.

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