Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Amy Goes to the Movies

First of all, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is looking more and more amazing. And last night I found out it's going to be in IMAX 3D. Not gonna lie, I might be more tickled about Alice than I ever was about Avatar.

Of course, when they make a biopic about me, I will be played by Helena Bonham Carter. Because, you know, that makes sense, considering she's about 15 years older than I.

Curly hair sisterhood. Never mind that she plays mostly twisted characters.

Last night I went to see When in Rome. It was free movie night, so no, I did not go out of my way and pay to see this movie. It was actually a second choice anyway. We were going to see Up in the Air, but it was sold out. When in Rome was actually funnier than I expected, though still absolutely ridiculous. Let me tell you, the audience did not laugh like that when I saw Leap Year. And I had difficulty distinguishing Will Arnett from the magician character, especially when Jon Heder used "illusions!" instead of "tricks."

versus --

Alliance approved

Since I'm (sorta) writing a rom com right now, I've been thinking a lot about the stereotypical characters that seem to be really tired from running the gambit recently. I think this especially concerns female characters, who are often writing flat or shallow. As When in Rome opened, HS Friend L leaned over and whispered to me, "Let me guess -- another anti-love uptight workaholic." And yes, Kristen Bell even monologued about how she didn't need a relationship because she was married to her job.

I haven't done any hard research, but I'm pretty sure most of the Hollywood produced rom coms of the past few years have featured career-driven female leads. These numbers radically peak when you examine Katherine Heigl films alone. But what's on the flip side? If Katherine Heigl can be the spokesperson for the female rom com lead stereotype, who represents the male characters? I used to think that women were being short changed in this laziness of character development until I realized that the boys don't fare much better. They are the models of man-boyhood for every teenage boy who sees Knocked Up to aspire to. The "opposites attract" model of the last decade has been workaholic uptight responsible woman clashes with laid back fun loving man boy. Billy Mernit is really the guru here. He talks a lot about it - and with much more eloquence than I - on his blog.

I understand why. I understand that the biggest transformation will occur if you have one character who's focus is not on love but on their work. I understand that the female audience being targeted is increasingly more educated and professional (and the corresponding cultural question of whether or not a career is just a woman's placeholder for a relationship). I understand that having an oppositional female character allows the female audience to play into the wish fullfilment of being pursued. I understand this is the easy way to write a rom com because that's the way I want to write mine and it's a real challenge to figure out how to flesh out my characters so that audiences will see something new.

Maybe this is why films like (500) Days of Summer are so refreshing. Finally -- the audience is introduced to someone new.

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