The Vow (2012) -vs- 50 First Dates (2004)

February 9, 2012 Jackie Zabel

Artistic women with memory loss and the men who love them — that’s the premise of both The Vow, out this weekend with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum in the lead roles, and 50 First Dates (2004), starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. These films play against the standard boy-girl movie cliché, in that it’s the guys who know they’ve found their true romantic matches, and the women who, after seemingly falling in love, treat them like they’ve never seen them before. Of course, there’s a reason for that, and it has to do, in both cases, with brain trauma. Love may conquer all, but only if you can remember you’re in love. […]

Young Adult (2011) -vs- My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

December 8, 2011 Jackie Zabel

A beautiful, still-single woman decides that all the good guys are taken. The solution? Take one back, and by any means necessary. That’s pretty much the high concept behind both Young Adult, screenwriter Diablo Cody’s new black comedy bravely starring Charlize Theron as a Minnesota high school beauty queen coming back to rekindle the flame with her married-with-baby ex-boyfriend, and My Best Friend’s Wedding, a Julia Roberts vehicle in which she travels back to Chicago to reclaim a sportswriter she never really wanted until another girl (Cameron Diaz) decides he’s marriage material. […]

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) -vs- Dan in Real Life (2007)

July 28, 2011 Jackie Zabel

Is it better to give than receive? Before you answer, the question’s not asking about sex or birthday gifts but relationship advice. Newly liberated Office-mate Steve Carell finds himself on both sides of that equation in our Smackdown between a couple of romantic dramedies, Crazy, Stupid, Love., opening this weekend, and 2007’s Dan in Real Life.

Crazy, Stupid, Love., with its period at the end that causes my auto-correct fits, is probably the most grammatically irritating film title since Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. Carell portrays boring, straight-laced Cal Weaver, who gets dumped by his wife and taken in as a charity project by Ryan Gosling’s barfly/man/god, Jacob Palmer. In Dan in Real Life, it’s Carell’s Dan Burns dispensing the advice in a newspaper column with the same name as the film, while trying to raise three daughters in various stages of meltdown after the death of their mom and Dan’s wife a few years earlier.

Two depressed guys, two lost wives, two sets of three quirky kids, and two comedies based on a Steve Carell character’s ability to roll with the romantic punches. So it comes down to Cal versus Dan, and it should come as no surprise that no matter who’s giving the advice, love makes a fool of them both. […]

Friends With Benefits (2011) -vs- No Strings Attached (2011)

July 21, 2011 Jackie Zabel

Apparently in 2011, film couples are taking the Nike slogan literally. They would rather “just do it” than have to suffer the emotional consequences of a real relationship. Or at least so goes the premise of two separate movies released this year — Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached.

Both movies are about casual sex, and there’s lots of it onscreen. The challenge is to make it funny, which they do, with mixed results, by talking about body parts and functions in graphic detail. Some of these scenes are even educational. Women will learn even more about the male perils of having to pee with a hard-on than they did from Steve Carell’s bravura bathroom struggle in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Quite the visual here. Who says Americans are puritanical? […]

(500) Days of Summer (2009) -vs- Annie Hall (1977)

July 31, 2009 Jackie Zabel

(500) Days of Summer takes many of its cues from a certain New York filmmaker, making it similar to a pivotal movie in the entire rom-com genre, Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Maybe that’s what got the screenplay nominated this year by the Writers Guild of America.

What unites both films here is their exploration of male feelings. Yes — guy feelings — and not just lust. Both men have a desire to connect with a woman that goes beyond plugging into a sexual electric socket (although both celebrate first plug-ins, as it were), but really these guys want a relationship based also on meeting emotional needs as well as their romantic visions of love.

Here’s the Smackdown question: Has Annie Hall aged well enough to still hold onto its crown, or is it just an aging fighter, great in its day, but no match for the moves of a younger, better-trained opponent? Let’s go to the movies and find-out… […]