The Romantics

23 Nov

Title: The Romantics
Year:
2010
Director:
Galt Niederhoffer
Writer:
Galt Niederhoffer, based on the novel by himself
Starring:
Katie Holmes, Josh Duhamel, Adam Brody, Elijah Wood, Anna Paquin, Malin Akerman, Jeremy Strong, Rebecca Lawrence, Dianna Agron, Candice Bergen
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, sexual content, partial nudity, language and some drug material
Runtime:
95 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.3
Rotten Tomatoes:
16%

I had read a couple of reviews for The Romantics before I got down to watch it, and they were all pretty much universally negative, they said the characters were unlikable, they said that Katie Holmes sucked in it (though one review said it was the best work of her career, like the poster for the film insists on reminding us), and just plainly that The Romantics wasn’t a good film. I won’t go ahead and say that The Romantics is a great film, and I won’t be recommending it to friends or anything, but it wasn’t that bad. Really, I thought it was decent, and I thought Ms. Holmes (or does she go by Mrs. Cruise these days?) was good in it, too.

It’s a wedding movie. We must start by saying that, we have a few wedding movies a year and they all boil down to what will happen between the bride and the groom at the end of it all, that’s the formula these wedding-set romantic comedies so dutifully follow, unless you’re talking about Rachel Getting Married which is the most perfect wedding movie ever and is leagues apart from all the others. But considering this is just another generic movie of its kind, I thought it fared relatively well, at least the dialogue seemed totally fresh and not as clichéd as always, even though the meaning behind the dialogue was pretty predictable, at least it was said elegantly.

The couple getting married is Tom and Lila, the characters played by Josh Duhamel and Anna Paquin. Now, I normally love Ms. Paquin in anything she does, whether it’s her starring role in HBO’s awesome True Blood, or her supporting turns in smash indies like The Squid and the Whale or 25th Hour, I think she’s always awesome, yet in this film I couldn’t help but think that she wasn’t the right fit for Lila, something about her didn’t fit for that role. But maybe that’s just my head being too used to seeing her as Sookie Stackhouse by now.

The movie then goes to focus on Tom and Lila and a group of friends of theirs from their years at their Ivy League college who have reunited for the pre-wedding festivities. And you know how it will go down from there, they will at one point get drunk and spill all sorts of secret opinions of one another, and will look to us like a bunch of over-conceited and shallow group of people nearing their thirties. But again, that’s what happens in all movies of this sort,  and this one’s actually a bit better than the rest of the Hollywood romantic comedies. However, the problem is that it also thinks it’s superior to them, and because of that it at times goes ahead and acts like the quirky indie films of its kind, of which the aforementioned Rachel Getting Married is just one of the many good examples, and when it tries to be that it fails miserably, precisely because it’s still filled with those Hollywood conventions.

And I will go ahead and say one thing, even though some critics have gone on to say that Katie Holmes’ performance here sucks and is totally implausible, I actually thought hers was the best performance of the bunch, and certainly the best work she’s done since 2005’s Thank You for Smoking, or even 2003’s Pieces of April. She plays Laura, the most likable and best-written character in the film, who’s also the maid of honor and had actually dated Tom for a bit. So you know she’ll play a big part because there’s obviously still some feelings between her and Tom, and she’ll have a sort of competitive friendship with Lila throughout the film which will conclude in some nice confrontation.

The rest of the cast is comprised of some pretty cool actors including Adam Brody, Malin Akerman and Elijah Wood, but they’re not given enough space to shine in this one. But still, The Romantics is substantially better than the Hollywood romantic comedies, but considering it tried to be a quirky indie, in that respect it fell a bit short. But I still liked it far more than apparently everyone else did. I thought the writing was really smart, and I thought the ending was great, which usually in these films it never is, so we have that to be happy about, if not about the fact that Ms. Holmes apparently has resuscitated from an acting come and is now acting decently again, hopefully she’ll continue that trend when she’s in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

Grade: B-

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