Positive Cynicism – Writing a romantic comedy is easy

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

Romantic comedy is a genre I’ve never really warmed to. For every good movie with genuine feeling like Say Anything or Love Actually there are nine enhanced interrogation sessions like Fool’s Gold or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (and yes, scarily, all nine of those will star Kate Hudson and/or Matthew McConaughey). Generally, romantic comedies are terrible wastes of time and money. But of course I’m going to say that – I’m a guy.

Chick flicks can be a trial, but I’m not even sure I’m supposed to like them, not being in the target audience. I’m a guy in his early thirties who would much rather play video games or listen to my MP3 player than sit on the edge of my seat hoping against hope that someone, someone will see just how wonderful Cameron Diaz is and just marry her, already.

(Although, frankly, a lot of this has to do with the fact that Cameron Diaz just comes across as a huge bitch on film. Seriously, when does she turn “bitchy” off and go for one of the other two modes she can play – “dorky tomboy” and “falling down”?)

What’s really terrible is when Hollywood decides that a guy in my situation needs to see a romantic comedy. And for every good movie with genuine feeling like The 40 Year-Old Virgin or Forgetting Sarah Marshall, there are … well, there are nightmares where the guys are too old, women falling down constantly is somehow endearing, the worst aspects of male behavior are cute and no one ever has to worry about their job.

Here’s a scene from a generic romantic comedy that I’ve written to show you just how easy it is to write one of these horror shows. Don’t worry about a title; you can just plug in the name of some hit pop song from the 1960s. It doesn’t even have to have anything to do with the movie! Just flip the radio on to the oldies station and use the name of the first song you hear:


    FADE IN:

    EXT. THE PARK - DAY

    Open on a man, generically named ADAM, played by an actor in his mid-forties pretending to be 30 – you know the type, a Ben Stiller or an Adam Sandler, the kind of guy no girl in her twenties is into and no guy in his thirties wants to be like, but that knowledge would destroy Hollywood executives who think they’re always 21.

    Adam is having lunch in the park and talking with a friend who is a cruder, crasser, balder, fatter, dumber, less attractive, less sensible, less likable version of Adam (basically Rob Corrdry in every movie), thus making Adam a catch by default. He’s an old frat buddy of Adam’s, so of course his name should be something like Puggy or Boozer or Chuggy or Chim-Chim or something. Let’s call him FARTY.


    FARTY

    I’m telling you, you’ll never be as inexplicably popular with the ladies as I am. Mostly because I settle for cheap strippers and using date-rape drugs with junior high school girls. Let’s face it, I’m the kind of guy who normally repulses everyone, but because I’m played by a lovable third-string comic who was on Saturday Night Live for half a season, all of my hideous flaws are lovable!

    ADAM

    Aw, come on, Farty. Who wants to settle down, anyway? A woman would just make me take a shower every day and stop watching Family Guy, where jokes about underage date rape, beating up women and homosexual infants are hilarious. I don’t want to stop playing video games and drinking every night with no consequences and living life like a sixth grader with money. I mean, it hasn’t affected my Generic Business Job. And my boss, played by some actor from a sitcom or Jane Lynch (who is inexplicably in anything and everything), is riding my ass too hard to relax!

    FARTY

    Generic set-up/punchline reference to scoring with chicks!

    ADAM

    I need the audience’s sympathy too badly to laugh at your crude joke, Farty! I’ll roll my eyes instead.

    FARTY

    I wonder why we're even friends if you don't understand my humor!

    ADAM

    I know!

    Chuckle, chuckle.

    Suddenly, in the distance, Adam and Farty see a girl playing with kids. The woman is perfect – at least in the terms of a bad romantic comedy. In order to match up with her graying, mature, approaching retirement age co-star, she should be somewhere between the ages of 17 and 21. She should be drop dead gorgeous, but in a bland way that lacks any real character, since personality is undesirable. She should also have a TV show that hits with college-age women for cross-marketing purposes, like Blake Lively or whatever the hell the name of anyone on the new 90210 is. Above all she should look guileless, uneducated and completely clueless.


    FARTY

    Holy something quotable by frat tards! She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen outside of a crusty, overused magazine.

    The girl slow-motion walks for half a minute to the tune of whatever overused pop song is on commercials all the damn time.

    Then, we hear the sound of a record scratching, incongruous as it may be to a generation of people who don’t listen to records anymore, and the girl suddenly trips over a child and flips over in the air 17 times before landing on a cactus and being punched in the face by a homeless man and pissed on by a dog.

    And then pissed on by the homeless man.

    And then run over by six dudes on skateboards.

    And then pulled into the air by an invisible force, swung around, shaken violently like a rag doll and dropped on a passing walrus.


    ADAM

    She is beautiful!

    Adam rushes over to her with some napkins and helps her to her feet.


    ADAM

    You're so uncoordinated and accident-prone! Instead of being incredibly annoying, that makes you adorable and approachable! Imagine if you were smart! That would scare the shit out of me! What's your name?

    EVE

    I'm Eve. Thanks for helping me up! I was helping my sister out with day care.

    ADAM

    Oh, that's so Earth Mothery of you. I'm really digging you.

    EVE

    Normally I design polymer tests for space shuttle components, but I just can't figure out how to walk without severely injuring myself!

    ADAM

    Wow, you're really something! You didn't even have to go to college to work for NASA!

    EVE

    Well, when I'm not playing video games and getting stoned!

    ADAM

    Oh, my aching, painful erection! You're getting more and more perfect! And it's so believable to see us hanging out as a couple! I don't look like your creepy uncle at all!

    EVE

    No, of course not! What would I want with an attractive, successful, athletic, energetic guy my own age when I could get with a shlub who's still unmarried in his forties?

    ADAM

    Er, thirties.

    EVE

    Of course ...

    ADAM

    Hey, would you like to go out on a date tonight? I mean, since you don't need traction from the unlikely “comic” injury you just went through?

    EVE

    Sure! It's biologically impossible for a woman to be fulfilled by a career or friends or family. I need a man to complete me, and I’m already 21! Let's go and see a hilariously inappropriate movie or have a dinner where you're allergic to something but don't know it!

    ADAM

    Only if you promise to do something embarrassing in the bathroom and still actually have sex with me later!

    EVE

    Of course!

    A man pushing a cart with nothing but frying pans on it walks past. Nineteen pans hit Eve in the face randomly, causing her to flip over backwards and fall flat on her back.

    Then a kid on a bike hits her face and flips over.

    Eve stands up, blood gushing from her head, and laughs it off, smiling widely.


    ADAM

    I think I’ve found the one!

    Another song that the music company affiliated with the studio is paying everyone to overuse begins to play. It’s love!

    FADE OUT

Now just sit back, count your money and try to never look yourself in the mirror again.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

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Comments(2)
  1. Joelle May 5, 2009
  2. Aaron R. Davis May 5, 2009

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