An Education (2009) -vs- Say Anything (1989)

February 16, 2010 Bryce Zabel

Listen up, ‘rents. Being a father is never easy, but being the father of a teenage girl, and trying to get that one right is a true challenge. Both of these films — two decades apart in production dates and period settings — show fathers who, with the best of intentions, get it all wrong, but they get it wrong in exactly opposite ways.

You can care too little and you can care too much. When you’re in the middle of things, it’s not always so easy to see which is which. Believe me, as a father of girl who has just left her teenage years behind, these are matters I’ve thought a little bit about. I keep thinking of the famous Kenny Rogers’ song (“The Gambler,” written by Don Schlitz) that you gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Like that’s easy. Still, what we have here to consider are a couple of fathers who don’t know best, not by a long shot… […]

Valentine’s Day (2010) -vs- Love Actually (2003) -vs- Amelie (2001)

February 16, 2010 Sherry Coben

“Valentine’s Day.” From everything I’ve seen and heard, I’m fairly certain that Garry Marshall is a very nice man, and I know he set out with the best of intentions making this film as did all his friends and associates who helped. No one ever intends to make a bad movie, and smacking this film feels a little like hitting a puppy. This movie sits there humping your leg, blissfully unaware and unashamed of the giant stinking turd it’s left on the cineplex screen. To extend the metaphor past all usefulness, this puppy hasn’t yet been spayed. It takes major cojones (or perhaps hubris) to engage such a weak, ungifted and unsuited company of players in hopes of recapturing the success of “Love Actually.” With a few major exceptions, the actors just plain aren’t good enough to rise above the lame material; most are unable to land any of the marginal jokes or even to remind us of any human beings we’ve met.
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VOTE NOW: Rom-Com Smackdown in Time for Valentine’s Day

February 1, 2010 Sherry Coben

Our personal memories mingle seamlessly with our movie memories; classic romantic comedies make the sweetest and most thoughtful gift, longer lasting than any box of chocolates or long-stemmed roses.
Celebrate with us to find our readers’ all-time favorite Romantic Comedy. Many of our favorite films didn’t make the poll; we apologize most heartily if we’ve neglected to include yours.
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When In Rome (2010) -vs- Roman Holiday (1953)

January 29, 2010 Sherry Coben

Featuring precious little Rome and a lot of Antic, “When In Rome” falls back on every exhausted (and exhausting) rom-com convention in the book. In Rome for her sister’s wedding, a career woman cynically steals coins from a fountain and unknowingly makes five strangers fall madly in love with her. Kristen Bell makes for an adorable lead who needs fresher and smarter material to reach her full rom-com heroine potential. Josh Duhamel stands tall as her love object, slightly less generic than the usual rom-com Ken doll. There’s not much standing in their way, no real obstacles, and therein lies the rub. The two meet semi-cute in the first ten minutes, and we know they’ll wind up together; nothing much happens in the middle to call their happy ending into question. There’s much ado about the nothing; pilfered coins, local legend, and enchanted suitors sound like more fun than they are.
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Up In The Air (2009) -vs- It’s Complicated (2009)

December 30, 2009 Sherry Coben

Finally, it’s awards season again, when the really big guns take aim for our hearts, minds, and pocketbooks. Coming out swinging for the bleachers are two movies made for adults of a certain (middle) age, the demographic that lopes through the rest of the year nearly forgotten, begging for scraps at a table set for callow youth and action figures. George Clooney and Meryl Streep both navigate the rough and increasingly muddied waters of love and commitment, and it’s a thrill to watch them struggle.
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(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… […]

The Ugly Truth (2009) -vs- Romantic Comedy

July 25, 2009 Sherry Coben

Once again, Hollywood perpetrates a hate crime against humanity and romance disguised as harmless piffle. “The Ugly Truth,” yet another bright-and-shiny anti-romantic comedy, flounces into our midst, full of makeovers and double entendres, movie stars and other clichés that might fool you into thinking it’s enjoyable. Perhaps I’m getting crabby after so many dollars have been picked from my metaphorical pockets by this Godforsaken genre, but it’s high time to go back to the drawing board. I surrender, Studio Executives. Gimme a time machine. A time machine or a movie emporium that screens the romantic comedy classics I love, the theater of my mind. Please return to making the kind of movies that made me fall in love with love and movies.
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The Proposal (2009) -vs- Green Card (1990)

June 23, 2009 Sherry Coben

Immigration Law Romantic Comedy makes up a very exclusive subset of the chickflick genre, and there’s a new kid on the block. Great White (North) Hope Sandra Bullock’s “The Proposal” arrives with heavyweight credentials and high expectations for box office punch. A Canadian über-bitch book editor threatened with deportation strong-arms her assistant into an arranged engagement; complications and frolics ensue. Almost two decades ago, Peter Weir constructed his own little Valentine to New York City and unlikely romance when a Frenchman’s marriage of convenience and “Green Card” is threatened by an official immigration investigation. These immigrants are adorable, and they want to stay forever. Which begs the question: If no American falls in love with an illegal immigrant, does a tree fall in the woods? Or something like that.
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Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) -vs- Star Trek (2009)

May 7, 2009 Sherry Coben

Let’s say it’s date night and you’re the girl. Common wisdom might suggest you’d be happier arm-twisting your significant (or insignificant) other into the theater for a dose of movie star magic featuring McConnaughey and Garner. Your distaff half’s pining in an entirely different testosterone-fueled direction. Should you give in and check out the Trek or put your high-heeled foot down and insist on the rom-com? Let’s do this. Captain James Tiberius Kirk vs. Connor Meade. Two alpha/hound dogs who have their way with women.
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