On Saturday, I set out a list of reading resolutions for the year. As usual, one of the majors ones was to buy fewer books. This is something I try and fail to keep every year. The publishing industry just can’t stop bringing out more fantastic books. However, I do intend to do better this year because I’m painfully aware that I have something of storage problem. In order to stop myself from buying new books, I have set myself a second resolution of actually reading the books on my shelves. I have that classic bookish problem of having owned books for years. This is especially true of my Kindle. I tend to buy cheap ebooks on a whim and then forget about them. According to Amazon, I bought Jonathan Unleashed in December 2016. That means I’ve owned it for 4 years. It feels as though it was time to finally give it a chance.
In my review of Love, Guaranteed on Tuesday, I suggested that my main motivation for watching it was to escape from reality with something ridiculous. That was partly the case. After all, the more news I watch the less energy I have for dramatic narratives. However, I won’t pretend that it was my only motivation. Really, I wanted to use it as an excuse to rewatch She’s All That. I can’t remember the last time that I watched this film but, for a time, it was definitely something I watched all the time. Along with 10 Things I Hate About You, this was a film that had a prominent place in my teenage years. I clearly didn’t have great taste at the time but I don’t think anybody really does in their early teens, right?
I haven’t been a massive fan of romantic comedies since I was a stupid tween but I can definitely see the appeal this year. There is so much awful stuff going on in the world that escaping into a rom-com seems like the perfect thing to do. There is a familiarity about these films that is pretty comforting. You know where you’re going to end up before you’ve even started, so you can just sit down and let it all wash over you. Considering the rest of the world is in utter turmoil, there’s a lot to be said to knowing what to expect. This is my only explanation for sitting down to watch the new Netflix original romantic comedy despite the fact that I knew I wasn’t really going to enjoy it.
As I suggested in my review of How to Build a Girl, there was an obvious choice for a companion TBT film. Almost Famous is a clear bedfellow for Caitlin Moran’s coming-of-age tale. The only problem is, I never want to watch Almost Famous again. I know that I’m in a tiny minority of people but I really don’t get what the fuss was about. It just seemed a bit too overindulgent and facile. It was pure Hollywood and didn’t really speak much to me or my experiences. I don’t understand why people adore it so much. So I needed to find an alternative. I went for another Kate Hudson film. Not one I was any more excited to watch but one that I could at least sit through. Handily, she plays a journalist who tries to get ahead by being unnecessarily mean. Oh, and it has “how to” in the title. Not a bad companion film after all.
As we’ve seen in the past few Tuesday Reviews, I’m not a fan of Netflix comedies. What I’m even less of a fan of is romantic-comedies. What I’m even less of fan of than romantic-comedies are quirky romantic-comedies based around weddings. So, a Netflix original quirky romantic comedy based around a wedding really wasn’t the film I was desperate to watch. Under normal circumstances, I’d have pretended that this film didn’t exist and go on my merry way. But this is the “new normal”. We have to get used to a new way of life and maybe that includes not ignoring everything that looks really shit?
There’s a point in Love Wedding Repeat where it looks as if we’re about to go back and replay all of the story again but with one element slightly altered. When that moment arrived, I was almost sick at the thought of having to sit through everything again. Thankfully, it doesn’t go quite that far but it should tell you everything about the first half of the film. Was this the first comedy film that Netflix got right? Not at all. What we get is a very uninspiring and overused premise. Somebody clearly thought that this film was going to revive the rom-com tradition that Richard Curtis made work for him in the 90s but, instead, this is just embarassing. It has a feel of Steven Moffat’s Coupling about it but it has the terrible writing and boring storylines of Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner for Doctor Who.
Love Wedding Repeat is actually a remake of a French film, Plan de Table. It takes us to Rome and the day that Hayley marries her Italian fiance, Roberto. When an old flame of Hayley’s turns up ready to ruin the wedding, she asks her brother, Jack, to help out. By giving him a dose of her potent sleeping drops. Jack puts the drugs into Marc’s empty champagne glass. Unfortunately, a group of meddling kids move the names around so everyone is in different seats. Instead of Marc, Hayley’s actor friend, Bryan, is drugged. This means Jack can’t concentrate on flirting with Hayley’s American friend, Dina, who he met in Rome 3 years ago but failed to make a move on. Instead, he has to run around preventing Marc dropping a bombshell and making sue Bryan doesn’t make a fool of himself in front of a famed Italian director.
The central idea for this film is how many possible paths there are to take in life. The knowledge that it takes a certain chain of events to end in one particular moment in time. Just take the 8 people sat around a table at a wedding. They could be arranged in thousands of different ways and each one would cause a different outcome. Life is about taking chances and hoping that it’s the right one. Through several brief glimpses of alternate timelines, we see that very few of the arrangements of people at the table will lead to a happy ending for the newly married couple. Love, we are told, can be derailed by the slightest thing. So, the message here is that love is kind of meaningless and just comes down to chance, right? Or are we being told that such tiny odds means love is all about fate? I don’t know and I doubt anyone making this film knew either.
It feels like this film didn’t really have a plan besides the create an ensemble farce that takes place at a wedding bit. Love Wedding Repeat has the air of a much more intelligent film but it’s just stupid. It doesn’t even know how to be funny and has to rely on dick jokes and people slipping roofies into champagne. This kind of story should write itself but it’s gone horribly wrong somewhere. There are a few sort of funny moments and some strong-ish performances. However, the majority of the actors are just dull and flat. And let’s be honest, even though I was glad we didn’t properly repeat the narrative a bunch of times, the way the film gets around it is sloppy and adds nothing to the plot. It’s a waste and it makes it hard to see what the point of that motif is.
Remember when Deadpool came out and Olivia Munn made a really bitchy comment about how she turned down the role of Vanessa because she didn’t want to play a girlfriend again? She wanted to fight and not just be eye candy. Obviously, she went on to play Psylocke and we know how that turned out. But, watching this film, I have to wonder what she thought she was signing up for with this film. Her role as Dina is the definition of eye candy. Yes, there is a moment where they try and give her a tragic backstory but it’s never presented with any weight. Nobody involved in the film, either in reality or on screen, gives a shit who Dina is or where she comes from. She’s just there for slow fuzzy zooms on her beautiful face. Although, it might explain why she didn’t want to play “the girlfriend”. Her lack of chemistry with Sam Claflin here suggests she wouldn’t be able to sell it.
I’d be tempted to suggest that Love Wedding Repeat is one of those Netflix films that was purposefully made to be as bad as possible. The ones like A Christmas Prince where the streaming service relies on word of mouth to get people to watch it. They know people love shit films so they continually knock out cheap and shit films so people criticse them on social media. But I’m not actually sure that’s what is happening here. For one thing, it’s not as over-the-top in its shitness as most of their films are. For another, this film lacks that self-awareness that the majority of their romantic-comedies have. Someone, somewhere clearly thought that they were onto a winner here and I don’t see why. There’s is nothing funny nor particularly romantic about this film. It’s not so bad that you remember if after you’ve seen it. I can still remember almost everything that happened in A Christmas Prince but I had to Google so much of this film. I only saw it yesterday. Netflix is really scraping the barrle with this one and that’s saying something.
For those who haven’t read it, this week’s Tuesday Review was Judy. A film that mixes Renée Zellweger with Judy Garland and puts her in the 1960s. Which makes Down With Love the perfect film for today’s Throwback Thursday. Well, it is a film that mixes Renée Zellweger with Judy Garland and puts her in the 1960s. Plus, this one has Ewan McGregor’s face in it. And, as we all know, that can make anything better. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t completely hate the Star Wars prequels. Although, it was never enough to make me want to watch this film the first time around. 15-year-old me wasn’t a fan of romantic comedies. Not that 31-year-old me is but I am less of a twat about it. A friend of mine really liked it and told me it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t see it. But, after a long Monday at work, the draw of McGregor’s face and the promise of an easy watch finally got me to say yes. So, would it be worth the wait?
I have a friend who has always loved Ralph Fiennes. I’d never really got on board with him as a concept until Skyfall. But she was always trying to convince me that there was more to him. Maid in Manhattan was always my go-to argument. I mean it’s such a stupid film full of people doing stupid things. And J Lo man. Although, I’ve definitely changed my opinion of her since watching Hustlers. It only seemed fair that I go back and find out if it was as bad as I remembered. Or have I been doing Jenny from the Block a disservice all these years? I doubted it but I did need to find something to watch for tonight and this was there. And, dammit, I love Natasha Richardson. Is it the role she’s remembered for? No, but she’s definitely one of the best things in it.
I made a bold claim on Tuesday that I liked every romantic-comedy starring John Cusack. Well, I said that before I remembered just how many shitty romantic-comedies he’s been in. I mean he’s not up to Tom Hanks numbers yet but there are some bad ones. I mean I can kind of give Serendipity a pass because of the book thing but America’s Sweethearts? Urgh. High Fidelity and Say Anything really do a lot for his reputation as a romantic hero I guess. Or maybe I just do a lot for it? I do love him. And I have done since that first time I saw him holding that boom box outside Ione Skye’s window. I’d recently seen a John Cusack romantic-comedy that I’d never seen appear on Netflix, so I decided it could really answer the question once and for all. Is John Cusack the romantic hero of my dreams or my nightmares?
I have to admit that I normally roll my eyes at romantic-comedies. I just get pretty bored with them. It’s always the same thing. Boy meets girl who is way out of his league. Boy tries to win girl but doesn’t. Girl eventually realises that boy is perfect for her. Boy gets girl. Urgh just thinking about it is making my eyes roll. I haven’t always been like this. As a youngster I loved romantic-comedies. I definitely liked Richard Curtis films ways more than they deserved. Obviously, anything starring John Cusack was more than okay with me. And I definitely spent many a sleepover watching whatever 90s/00s chick flick was all the rage. But I’ve grown up a lot since then and I find the whole thing pretty dodgy these days. Some of them break through and do something different. Most of them are just guff. I mean just look at how many romantic-comedies Netflix are churning out these days. They’re essentially the same film but with characters of different ages, ethnicities, and genders. And, if I’m honest, I thought Long Shot was going to be another forgettable piece of nonsense.
Anyone who’s been keeping up with my Sunday Rundowns of late will know that I’ve been making painfully slow progress with Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson. So, when I was approached by Linh Le James to read her novel #Toots for a review, I decided it would be a good excuse for a break from my current read. And, thankfully, it was a quick read that proved to me it’s not that I’m in a slump that Byrson is taking so long. It’s just the book itself. So, I’m now wondering, still being only about halfway through at 2.5 weeks, whether it’s worth carrying on with it. I don’t want to give up considering how much time I’ve put into it but it feels like this uphill struggle is never going to end. I mean, there’s only so much pleasure you can take reading the history of a man who we know next to nothing about. It’s pretty much all speculation. I’ll be honest, I could have been asked to review any book right now and I’d probably had agreed just to give me the excuse to put Bryson down again. Maybe that explains why I got through #Toots in only 3 days? Or maybe it was just the best book I’ve ever read?