Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Two Very Different Movies...One View Of Romance

I haven't watched a whole lot of movies as of late (the video store is just too...damn...expensive!!), but two of the movies I watched for the first time recently both dealt with romance in some way.

First up is Will Smith's blockbuster Hitch. It was the first romantic comedy Smith had ever done and frankly, it was about time. Will Smith can have a lot of charm and charisma onscreen and it really seemed like a no-brainer to put him in a romantic film. In Hitch he plays a "date doctor" who helps lonely men woo the girls of their dreams. He gets a challenge in a client played by Kevin James who wants to woo a well-known supermodel played by Amber Valletta. The unlikely romance between James and Valletta piques the interest of a gossip columnist played by Eva Mendes and she is the same woman Smith woos in a nightclub.

Even though this film contains the ubiquitous "black man helping white people" cliché (amongst a whole bunch of romantic comedy clichés), the scenes with Smith and James are pretty funny. I also liked the chemistry between Smith and Mendes. It looked like the two of them (and everyone else in the film) enjoyed working on it. Hitch may not be exactly the most groundbreaking take on the romantic comedy but it's well-made and funny and that's what counts.

The other film I watched recently, Garden State, is close to Hitch in location (it takes place in New Jersey while Hitch takes place in NY) but that's about it. Honestly, I really don't know how to accurately describe Garden State. It has so many different elements in it. It's dramatic as it deals with Zach Braff as an emotionally numb struggling actor who goes back home for his mother's funeral. There is also a good amount of humor, mostly courtesy of Braff's friends. Then there is the romantic angle in the relationship that Braff and Natalie Portman cultivate during just a few days. I enjoyed all these elements of the film. .

The one thing more than anything that Garden State captures is that feeling of malaise with the part of your life that's after college but before you've figured out what you want to do with your life. I can definitely relate to that. I also really liked the way Portman and Braff's relationship developed. The two of them found, in each other, the person who understands them the best.

Even though Hitch and Garden State are dramatically different, they share one view of romance...that it is unpredictable. In Hitch, none of the tactics Will Smith taught Kevin James are what made Amber Valletta fall for him. In Garden State, a simple (and weird) conversation in the waiting room of a medical center leads to a fast, deeply emotional relationship. I certainly don't think that Braff's character expected to find the love of his life when he went home for his mother's funeral. Both of these movies tell us that there is no technique that will lead to love and that you never know where love will begin. Love happens when you least expect it and not necessarily for the reasons you would expect. Who would've thought that these two movies each share those themes?

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