Boy Meets Girl

I saw Hitch this weekend, the Will Smith-Kevin James-Eva Mendes romantic comedy in which Big Willie plays a double-super-secret dating doctor for guys who have trouble scoring on their own. The pulling-at-the-heartstrings twist, however, is that Hitch is not so good with his own love life. Sure he's all Fresh Prince of Bel-Air smooth and funny with the ladies, but also he's been hurt before. Hurt bad. And so maybe he will never allow himself to love again.

The movie is kinda funny and kinda irritating and completely predictable, like most romantic comedies. And like most romantic comedies, behavior that most people would consider borderline stalker-ish is rewarded by lots of hot copulation with beautiful women. Probably because in this case the behavior in question is coming from Will Smith, as opposed to, say, me. I'm guessing that if I fell hopelessly in love with a girl, and my way of asking that girl out was to send a bike messenger to her office with a walkie talkie, a walkie talkie that immediately began to transmit my voice at a volume that allowed everyone in the girl's office to listen in while I begged and pleaded for just one chance until she finally was forced to relent ... well, at the end of that story there'd be one more place I wasn't allowed to come within 100 feet of.

But of course in the Romantic Comedy Universe, such behavior is considered endearing.

Maybe the girl, like the boy, has been hurt before. Maybe some man has done her wrong in the past, and she doesn't think she'll ever be able to open her heart to love again. Maybe she has daddy issues. Or committment issues. Or maybe she just thinks the boy is a loser. But as any of us who've watched romantic comedies know, all these doubts will be washed away as soon as the boy puts on a trench coat and stands outside her bedroom window in the middle of the night blasting a popular Peter Gabriel ballad from a boombox. Or runs through the streets of New York to get to a New Year's Eve party just as the clock is about to strike midnight so he can deliver an impassioned speech about all the little cutesy things he loves about the girl without mentioning, once, how the reason he loves her is that she's incredibly hot and he's sort of short and not very good looking and possibly balding and also he's one of those annoying people who's always doing fake voices because he thinks other people find them funny. Or the boy travels across the country to rendevous with the girl, who he's never met before and who for all he knows may look like Rosie O'Donnel except that this is the Romantic Comedy Universe and so the man has confidence in Central Casting that the girl will look more like Meg Ryan or Kate Beckinsale or Kate Hudson or Ione Skye.

In the Romantic Comedy Universe, the boy will make his impassioned speech, or play his gentle rock ballad, and then the boy and girl will kiss, proving once again that Love Conquers All. And then girlfriends and wives the world over will turn to their boyfriends or husbands while still blotting salty tears from their eyes as the credits roll and ask why we've never done anything so sweet, how come all we ever did was ask for their number after ten or twelve beers at a bar, and then it took us four days to call and when we did finally call we were so boring and uninspired as to use a regular old telephone.


aaron said...

I saw Hitch a few weeks ago, and I found the central premise inspiring, that any man can win any woman's heart, if he does it right, and I suppose, has enough money.

I found it interesting that Hitch chose Ellis Island as a first date, and in no way did it ever come up that he and the friendly security guard's ancestors had no chance at all to arrive through that hallowed hall. I don't know it this is a good sign, one of progress, or if the irony should be noted and this formulaic movie chastised for not having the balls to bring it up. However, it does seem to me that a forceful yet humane comment about this injustice, made by Will Smith, whose appeal is universal, could have hit home without being "controversial."

Another thing about that movie is that it is remarkably chaste. There is perhaps one boning session in the whole movie, and it is a tertiary character and it is off camera.

Kistulentz said...

How about this fine trope of romantic comedy--no one is allowed to remain the way they are. Even the most unrepentant asshole (say, Vince Vaughan in the Wedding Crashers) has to change. Why? Do we really need EVERYONE to be redeeemed? Or at least everyone who's credited above the title? And don't get me started on Must Love Dogs, though, I must admit it was nice to see a role written for a man above the age of 60 (Christopher Plummer) who wasn't dating a 19-year-old.