Insomnia in the Pacific Northwest (or, I wrote a thing for The Hairpin and I’m super duper stoked about it)

image: Tri-Star Entertainment

Can we agree that romcoms in all their traditional, predictable glory are sort of becoming a thing of the past? And that maybe it’s actually a good thing?

I’d say the old cookie-cutter boy-meets-girl storyline has undergone a few makeovers in the past decade or so and tried on some different looks — say, indie-esque (Garden State, 500 Days of Summer), irreverent (Knocked Up, Easy A) and genuinely almost great (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but the formula’s mostly stayed the same, and it seems fewer and fewer are being made. At least, the tropes that acted as a common thread among them for so many decades feel like they’re (maybe?) fading and making way (I hope, anyway) for better, more real variations on the theme. I mean, I know zilch about movie making and have zero credibility when it comes to predicting film trends, but as a plain old movie-watching, critically-thinking citizen, I can admit to my former love of the genre as I look some of its greater offenders square in the face today with clarity of vision and ask them loudly, “WHAT THE HELL??”

So I wrote a piece for The Hairpin, a brilliant website beloved by literary-leaning folks primarily of the female variety, about my reaction to Sleepless in Seattle when I watched it again last month, more than 20 years after I fell in love with it at first sight. (And I mean LOVE love. Bridget-Jones-and-Mark-Darcy-after-the-blue-string-soup, Harry-and-Sally-on-New-Year’s, Mila-and-JT-during-the-Closing-Time-Flash-Mob-at-Grand-Central-Station-in-Friends-with-Benefits level love.) With all due respect to the very talented Ephron sisters, let’s just say my affections for the film have dimmed in the time it’s taken me to grow from a myopic 17-year-old into an (only slightly less myopic) adult. Ohhh, hindsight. Why you gotta be so smug?

Honestly, I’ll always love bits and pieces of that old Tom-and-Meg situation… but I confess those sorts of movies might have messed me up a bit in the lurve department, at least when I was younger. I’m more than a little mortified that I lapped up all those messages and internalized them for as long as I did. Give the essay a read, if you’d like, and feel free to tell me how crazy you think I am on a scale of one to Annie Reed.

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3 thoughts on “Insomnia in the Pacific Northwest (or, I wrote a thing for The Hairpin and I’m super duper stoked about it)

  1. I love that I’m not the only one who dislikes “Sleepless”! (I laughed about your description of viewing it again with your boyfriend – great article!) After hearing all about the movie being soooo wonderful from everyone we knew, my mom and I finally decided to rent it (I think I was a senior in high school). We watched it and were so bored! I remember looking at her afterwards and saying something about not getting all the hype about it, hehe. My experience watching it was so completely different from everyone’s description of it that it still baffles me. (Of course, I’m really picky about rom-coms in general. I prefer more logical women and that genre just isn’t about logic.)

    I don’t think that rom-coms are ever the big money-makers that action/fantasy movies are because they aren’t something that will draw a guy to see them. One of my personal favorites was “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and that was a total sleeper. Producers only want to spend money making guaranteed blockbusters, and the best scripts never find funding (sadly). I suspect that the rise of the geek-girl has helped a little bit with rom-coms turning into more guy-friendly viewing as well, and I’m not complaining.

  2. I’m with with you. Many of the chick flicks I used to love, I no longer have the stomach for. Maybe it does serve a purpose though – to spur us on with fantasy and idealism when we are single and too scared to put ourselves out there, otherwise. Like training wheels for love?

  3. I’m with with you. Many of the chick flicks I used to love, I no longer have the stomach for. Maybe it does serve a purpose though – to spur us on with fantasy and idealism when we are single and too scared to put ourselves out there, otherwise. Like training wheels for love?

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