After watching It's Complicated, I wanted to write about how beautiful it was and how I wanted to live in so many romantic comedies like this one. But then, I opened of the latest Newsweek to find that they had beat me to it. So I'm shifting my focus.
Despite what a movie nut I am, there is one thing about typical screwball and romantic comedies that I do not appreciate, due to their lack of realism: it's the moment in the film where the Boy meets the Girl for the first time, usually in a chance situation between two characters that otherwise wouldn't meet. In the movie The Holiday, Eli Wallach's character refers to this incidence as a "meet-cute." It's a cutesy way that fate intervenes and causes these two people to come together.
Found nowadays in the films of Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated, The Holiday) and Nora Ephron (Bewitched, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle), this technique has been seen in countless movies. In Serendipity, John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale meet in Bloomingdales after reaching for the last pair of gloves at the same moment. In It Happened One Night, spoiled socialite Claudette Colbert runs away from her heiress father right into alcoholic ex-reporter Clark Gable, when they argue over a seat on the bus. In Notting Hill, bookstore owner Hugh Grant spills orange juice on A-list actress Julia Roberts, causing them to meet. In (my favorite musical) Singin' in the Rain, Gene Kelly jumps into the car of aspiring starlet Debbie Reynolds while trying to escape his fans. (500) Days of Summer, released last year and featuring two of the most adorable people in Hollywood, featured a "meet-cute" between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt after Deschanel recognizes the tune by The Smiths that Gordon-Levitt is listening to on his iPod.
Even used in non-romcoms like Hitchcock's The Birds, the "meet-cute" technique is used. Party girl Tippi Hedren meets mama's boy lawyer Rod Taylor at a bird shop when she pretends to be a salesgirl helping him choose a gift for his sister. In serious dramas like Woody Allen's Manhattan and Match Point (and also his lighter fare like the classics Annie Hall and The Purple Rose of Cairo as well as his recent works like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Whatever Works), he employs the "meet-cute." In Match Point, Jonathan Rhys Meyers falls for Scarlett Johansson after flirting with her at a family party.
A technique used in the majority of films for the past 70 years, it's frustrating that these meet-cutes do not actually happen in real life. I am completely dependent upon these impossible events in order to meet someone wonderful. Is there anyone out there that has had a "meet-cute" happen to them, or heard of one happening to a friend? I need a little faith that these things can happen one day to me. Otherwise, I should just buy a lot of cats and take up knitting or woodcarving, and just call it a day.