Hollywood is forever in search of the next big hit. Sometimes us movie-goers get something so fresh and exciting that we flock to theaters in droves. More often we get enjoyable retreads of last year’s enjoyable retreads. At least we know what’s coming, from the summer action blockbuster, the holiday family movie and, this week, the Valentine’s Day romance.
In our love letter to the love scene, we’ve gathered up the worst romance movie clichés. Maybe Hollywood will finally put these to bed — and start writing some fresh love stories.
The rainy-day kiss is a romance classic, and cinematographers have all sorts of fun with it. Sure, The Notebook’sdock scene set millions of hearts aflutter. Sure, Spiderman and Mary Jane’s upside-down kiss was all the sexier with the cascading water and epic flashes of thunder. The device definitely works aesthetically. But the overuse makes it seem like most great romances occur only in Portland, during weather disturbances.
The Even Weirder Couple
Countless movies feature two kids from opposite sides of the tracks who get together. While the primary romance plays out, showing how much the main characters have in common despite their class/popularity/family feuds, the secondary romances don’t get any explanation. Why would Anthony Michael Hall’s “The Geek” ever get anywhere with the prom queen in Sixteen Candles? (Or Long Duk Dong and Marlene “the lumberjack,” for that matter)? Why do nerdy college kids somehow get all the cougars (Otter and Dean Werner’s wife in Animal House, or Finch and Stifler’s mom)? Were these scenes just cut for time? Does the cosmic law of “opposites attract” somehow just apply to these characters?
The L-Shaped Sheet
This one is a little complicated, so stay with me. Most overhead shots of a couple in bed show them under the sheets. These scenes tend to happen after the characters have slept together, so we can safely assume they just saw each other naked. Still the women are fully covered, while the men are covered from the waist down, with their movie-star pecs (and abs) on full display. How are the sheets nice and straight over both characters? The world of movie romance seems to have only beds with L-shaped sheets. Once you notice this little detail, you can’t un-see it.
We know that for the sake of a story, everyone’s romantic problems have to be solved in quick satisfying bursts. But since Hollywood also likes to make sure that couples hit huge roadblocks in their relationships, this can make for some utterly ridiculous solutions to big fights/character flaws. Did one of you make a huge mistake? Just hold a boombox outside of the window. Has one of you been a complete jerk to the other? Just sing a song from the rooftops. Or sing it on an airplane!
This is the granddaddy of all movie clichés, and probably the most insulting. Going as far back as Cinderella, if a girl suddenly dresses up a bit and lets down her hair, she goes from mousey nobody to belle of the ball. We can understand some of the transformations (The Little Mermaid probably wasn’t going to pull off much seduction without a pair of legs). But why does everyone else feel like they they need to wear makeup and heels to get a guy? At least movies are getting a little more self-aware of this cliché…
As for the other romance movie clichés, well, we’ll see what Hollywood comes up with next Valentine’s Day, and the year after that, and the year after that.