It's Valentine's Day and love is in the air. Don't deny it; you feel it too. All of this frilly lovey-doveyness just makes you want to grab a box of chocolates and a glass of wine and hang out with a good rom-com DVD (you didn't think we were going to say a person, did you?). The mythical pull of the rom-com is amazing, enthralling. They always solve their problems and end up happy in the end!
But wait. Take a closer look at the plot the next time you're watching your beloved chick flick — there are usually at least nine "endearing misunderstandings" and "charming half-truths" involved in a typical boy-meets-girl-eventually-they-make-out movie. Schemes! Plots! But it always turns out ok!
Would that happen in real life?
Here at NextMovie, we walk the streets with a can of Mace in one hand and sharpened nails on the other (and type one-handed when we're not walking the streets, because we just got our nails did), on the lookout for handsome yet hapless leading men veering too close to obsession for our tastes. After all, you never know when someone will go from liking how soft your skin is to wanting to wear your skin. What that in mind, we revisited five of our favorite rom-coms to analyze: Is this actually romantic, or should we be reaching for our panic buttons?
The Gist: Margaret (Sandra Bullock) is a Type A crazytown boss lady, constantly abusing her assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds). She also happens to be Canadian and facing deportation unless she secures a green card. One way to do so is to marry a U.S. citizen. Hello, Ryan Reynolds!
Stalker Points: She basically reverse-kidnaps him. Need we say more?
Romance Points: There's an awkward nude scene ("Why are you wet?" "Why are you naked?!") that functions as a meet-cute between two people who have known each other for years, and Bullock bonds with Reynolds' on-screen grandma (Betty White) through an awesomely weird dance scene in the woods. And, guys...they're in love, they just didn't know it!
We Say: We repeat: Reverse-kidnapping. Stalker!
The Gist: Kabajillionaire George Wade (Hugh Grant, boyish charm fully intact) hires idealistic power lawyer Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock, who this apparently happens to a lot. Sandy, do we need to talk?) as his chief counsel, in exchange for a promise to protect a rickety community center she's obsessed with. Eventually, she tires of his nonsense and gives her two weeks notice (hey, that's just like the title!). He tries to stop her from getting other jobs, because, oops, he's in love but isn't quite ready to admit it yet, and then, hey! She's in love too. Then they eat Chinese takeout and continue loving one another.
Stalker Points: Plenty! He keeps her close to him by bartering first a structure, then her actual livelihood. Um, pardon?
Romance Points: Isn't it sweet when she gets upset when he's playing strip chess with that skanky ginger (the character June, not Alicia Witt herself)? Wait, that's a little creepy too. But before that, when everyone is wearing pants and listening to Norah Jones! That part is really sweet. And the part when she gets drunk and calls herself a "twisty bobcat pretzel" in bed? No, wait, that one's also pretty creepy.
We Say: Stalker! He used his dollar bills to buy her love until she grew Stockholm Syndrome and gave it willingly.
The Gist: Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a young journalist who wants to cut her teeth in the investigative world, so she jumps at the chance when her newspaper editor (because print isn't dead yet in this universe) offers her an undercover reporting job at the local high school. She falls hard for her English teacher (Michael Vartan) (as one does), recites Shakespeare to him (as one does) and has horrifying PTSD flashbacks to her actual high school days while thinking about him (as one...does?). Now, with added bonus sexual tension on a ferris wheel. He seems to be into her too, but, oh, thinks she's a high school student in his book-learnin' class. Eek. Eventually, Josie becomes popular and is voted prom queen, because, sure. She reveals her true nature, then makes out with her teacher on a baseball mound and has her happy ending. Hooray!
Stalker Points: How do I stalk thee? Let me count the ways: I'm a grown woman posing as a high schooler. I'm a high school teacher lusting after my student on ferris wheels. I'm encouraging LeeLee Sobieski's onesie habit. The list goes on.
Romance Points: There is Shakespeare involved, and it's a little sweet that Ms. Josie Grossie has never been kissed. And if you like mauling someone's face with your face for the first time in front of hundreds of people and also on a Jumbotron, then, uh, plus points in this category.
We Say: Stalker! No means no, and student means no, in this case.
The Gist: Lucy (Sandra Bullock. Again, Sandy?), a lonely Chicago token taker (this movie is old), saves her unrequited crush (Peter Gallagher, holler) from an oncoming train after a mugger pushes him on the tracks. Her crush in a coma, Lucy falls into a hijinks-filled scenario of misunderstanding when the man's family thinks she's his fiancee. Complications arise when Lucy falls for the man's brother, Jack, played by Bill Pullman (this movie is old).
Stalker Points: Hi, I'm going to lie to an entire family about being in love with the guy I'm crushing on. Yiiiikes, back away.
Romance Points: Lucy and Jack quickly fall for each other, but never consummate their relationship. Yadda, yadda, yadda, Gallagher wakes up from his coma, the family pushes him to marry Lucy, the entire thing blows up and then, after, Jack proposes to Lucy by slipping a ring under the token booth while she's working.
We Say: Stalker. The both of them! Lucy is basically a con artist, but then Jack decides to marry her anyway?
The Gist: Don't pretend like you don't know the story: Noah (Ryan Goslin, sigh) and Allie (Rachel McAdams, let's have a moment of silence for their lost relationship) meet, fall in love, spend a sweet summer together, part on not-great terms (parents just don't understand). Years later, Allie's getting married to someone else, Noah has restored a house, and the pair of them have reunited to make out in the rain, christen the house's newly restored floor and ruin every girl's idea of romance ever. Years and years later, Allie has Alzheimer's, Noah is reading her their love story, and we're sobbing so hard we're actually dry heaving.
Stalker Points: "I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote to you every day for a year." If it's cramping your hand and you still haven't heard back, it's time to give up, buddy.
Romance Points: "If you're a bird, I'm a bird." No, wait, that's just cuckoo (which is also a bird. You're a bird.) Also: Alzheimer's. Sob.
We Say: We want to say stalker, because, you know, hardened hearts, Mace, all that, but...sob. YOU WIN THIS TIME, ROMANCE.