I am unduly hung up on the 90s and early 2Ks; somehow that time was more relatable. The movies, the music, the baggy clothes, the sitcoms etc. etc. simply refuse to give way to all that is trendy and cool today.
Among movies, as is the case with (almost) every girl, romances always hold a very special place. No different with me. I have seen almost all the quintessential 90s romance and the not so obvious ones as well.
The Julia Roberts essentials starting with Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Stepmom, Runaway Bride, Notting Hill and even America’s Sweethearts to the not so well-known Dying Young, Something to Talk About and I Love Trouble; The Meg Ryan starrers Sleepless in Seattle (and the older still When Harry met Sally), When a Man Loves a Woman, French Kiss, City of Angels, You’ve Got Mail and Kate and Leopold; Sandra Bullock with her quirks in While You were Sleeping, Two if By Sea, Hope Floats, Forces of Nature and Two Weeks Notice. I have seen them all; quite a few of them over and over again.
To me these three women ruled the romantic (drama/comedy) scene in the 90s. Apart from them Cameron Diaz, Julie Delpy and Alicia Silverstone did their turns in There’s Something About Mary, Before Sunrise and Clueless respectively. And then how can any romance piece be complete without Four Weddings and a Funeral, Jerry Maguire, 10 Things I Hate About You and 50 First Dates.
Few others such as Beautiful Girls, Head Over Heels, The Family Stone and Under The Tuscan Sun are not-so-sought after but they have their unique flavor.
Oh yes…There’s Something about the that era!
Reese Witherspoon filled up the gap between late 90s and early 2Ks with the Legally Blonde Series, Sweet Home Alabama and Just Like Heaven. These films were definitely far more polished and reminder of changing tastes but nonetheless retained the ethos of the decade gone by.
Then came the years where-in the Romantic genre lost it’s sheen for me. Everything became so over the top, hodge-podge and crowd-pleasing. The down-to-earth identifiable charm got lost somewhere. Still I do have a few choices.
I love the muti-starrer romances these days. The critics usually slam them but they appeal to me quite a bit; Valentines’ day, New Year’s Eve and He’s Just Not That Into you, Crazy. Stupid.Love. They deftly depict the complications of modern relations; our tendency to complicate perfectly sorted-out situations, to not appreciate who we have in our lives and the never-ending search for the ‘perfect match’.
Other conventional favourites over the last 7-8 years would be 27 Dresses, 500 Days of Summer, The Proposal, The Switch, Music And Lyrics, Made of Honor, Definitely Maybe and a few more strays. The reasons are much the same; ethos and pathos of modern life.
But mostly, the current crop runs the risk of becoming tedious, overtly mushy, plain stupid or simply over-sexed! Few examples would be I Hate Valentine’s Day, Fool’s Gold, What Happens In Vegas, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Just My Luck, Friends With Benefits, The Back-Up Plan, Letters To Juliet, My Super Ex- Girfriend, The Vow, etc. I will leave it to you to apply the adjectives as the case may be.
I admit I might not have disliked watching some of these films altogether but they somehow are not worth a second watch or even garner enough frenzy to be recommended to a friend!
Then again I have never quite been able to like some of the films ‘recommended’ to me; be it the time I reminisce about or the more recent offerings. Serendipity, P.S: I Love You, If Only, A Walk To Remember, Pearl Harbour, Sweet November, Message in a Bottle, Meet Joe Black, The Notebook are perhaps some of the Romance Lover’s must watch, but absolutely not my cup of tea.
There’s a certain phenomenon inseparable with Romance: the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG). She resurfaced in the mid 2Ks and continues to make an appearance now and then. Unlike her classic version typified memorably by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and later on by Goldie Hawn and Barbara Streisand among others, the contemporary MPDG mostly gets on your nerves. You kind of start hating the oh-so-cute guy who gives her that much indulgence! As much as I love 500 Days of Summer, I alternate between anger and pity for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character every time I watch it. Same is true for Kristen breaking poor Orlando’s heart time and again in Elizabethtown and Natalie Portman’s indecision in Garden State. Zooey Deschanel has become synonymous with the contemporary MPDG. Not a very pleasant tag. As much as you want to like her, you cannot. MPDGs are way too neurotic! Nonetheless the movies are quite enjoyable.
Coming back to my likings; I have an inclination for the quirky tales. Films associated with Judd Apatow do the trick for me; read Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and even Bridesmaids. There’s something sad and simultaneously hilarious about these films! Juno, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and Young Adult have the same effects on me although they have got nothing to do with Apatow.
Times change. Tastes and preferences mould themselves with the times. But there’s a certain quaint feeling in nostalgia. That quaintness for me will forever lie during my adolescence and late teens. Those were the years for me….