Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The world according to Nora Ephron films

The most excellent Bill Simmons skewers Fever Pitch, the American adaptation of the Nick Hornby memoir of the same title. Judging by the trailer and Simmons' review, the film appears to be as bad as the source material is brilliant. And this was after the first adaptation starring Colin Firth set the bar fairly low.

Anyhoo, Simmons lays out the 10 essential chick flicks cliches employed by les Freres Farrely. The higlights:
2. If you're approaching 30 and you're still single, it's only because you're working too hard, not because there's something wrong with you. Just make sure you find a potential husband as fast as possible, even if it means destroying someone else's life or committing some kind of crime.

5. You can have only three friends: A smart friend who's pretty in a quirky way, a calculating beauty who's morally corrupt and an overweight girl who doesn't say much. You can only hang out with these people all at once. If there's anyone in your life who doesn't fit one of those three categories, get rid of them.

6. Your boyfriend's friends only get in the way. The sooner you can destroy them, the better.

8. If you're breaking up with the guy to prove a point, immediately find the best-looking guy in your office and invite him over to dinner, then hope the other guy shows up. When he shows up, he won't do anything vengeful like get drunk and hook up with the nearest bimbo. He'll simply stop shaving and showering until one of his friends goes over to his house to snap some sense into him.
If I were writing a bad chick flick, I would also add the following:
  • If you are a woman, happiness in career and love are mutually exclusive. If you want happiness, you have to stop being so fucking ambitious. True love is found at the very bottom of the corporate ladder.
  • You won't realize the true value of your relationship until you are set to leave for another city where a great career opportunity awaits you, and you are already on the plane. Then, you will ensue in some madcap attempt to stop the plane from taking off, FAA regulations be damned.
  • If you grew up in the country, you will not find true love in the city where people only care about money and status. The only way you're going to find happiness is to move back home where no one cares about money or is full of shit. I mean, no one. Get back together with your high school sweetheart at any cost, even if it means giving up money, career and everything else that means anything in your life.

Seriously though, the popularity of formula chick flicks is something that will always mystify me. Don't get me wrong - I can appreciate the desire for simple escapist fantasies and I watch my share of utterly mindless flicks. Also, it's easy to forget that formulas exist in the first place because they do work if employed correctly.

But couldn't filmmakers offer escapism without completely insulting the viewer's intelligence and bringing cliche after ridiculously unrealistic cliche? Why waste $20.50 on two tickets to a Debra Messing vehicle when you can rent Roman Holiday, Say Anything and.... um... Hope Floats, and still have money left over for pizza?

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