Nothing wrong with indulging in slightly corny and comforting romantic movies. I talk about a bunch of my favorites in this episode, chock full of cheese (the tasty romantic kind).
The screwball comedy I featured is His Girl Friday (1940) starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. What a chemistry set!
The Lake House
Message in a Bottle
Bridges of Madison County
Compilation clip from Endless Love (1981)
The movie is based on the book Endless Love, the best-selling Salinger-esque novel by Scott Spencer. One of my favorite books of the 80s.
A fun royal Hallmark holiday movie, Christmas at the Palace.
Not romantic but so touching: November Christmas is one of the best Hallmark holiday movies ever. Have a hanky ready.
Bring on the corn! The comfort and fun of slightly corny romance
It's that perfect time of year —let’s face it, that kind of year—for snuggling under a blanket with a hot drink and losing yourself in a slightly corny, over the top, cheesy, everything ends perfectly romance.
That kind of sincere, belief-in-humanity-and-love is practically extinct, but these movies don't need a self-conscious wink wink or snark or smug irony. Nothing less smug than sweet, unlucky-at love-until-the final-scenes Kate Winslet in The Holiday.
[Holiday film clip]
Some of these movies make roundups of cheesiest chick flicks ever. I'm thinking: they're not cheesy! They’re romantic. Heartfelt. Guess itreally depends on your viewpoint — like I’m not a super big Nicholas Sparks movie fan though I have enjoyed a book or two of his. He is a master of the cheese.
But Oh but I fell hard for Message in a Bottle. It's ridiculously implausible and corny but so heart wrenching. This is the Nicholas Sparks story about a female journalist (played by Robin Wright) who goes for a jog one morning at the beach and finds a bottle in the sand.
There's an anonymous, heartbreaking love letter inside and just like in Sleepless in Seattle, she decides to track down the person who wrote the letter
It turns out to be a heartbroken widower played by Kevin Costner, who lives in a tiny seaside town miles away— and has never looked better by the way. There is no HEA here, but the journey is pure emotional Nicholas Sparks catharsis.
"Emotionally damaged man reluctant to take a chance on love until that special woman comes along" trope. Him inviting her in is a tiny moment but emotionally huge in this story. SIGH.
Heartfelt faith in love isn't my definition of cheesy. I know Fine line between sincere and easy, or emotionally manipulative.
These films aren't the pinnacle of moviemaking but they often remind me of particular memories or emotions or past loves, and if they float the romance boat, why not? In keeping with the philosophy of this podcast, I won’t feel guilty or ashamed about enjoying them.
My usual go-to is a classic screwball comedy from the 1930s, when my younger self craved romance that was smarter, simpler, less complicated. When people held doors for each other and weren't too jaded to believe in happy ever after, no matter how complicated the journey to the altar was.
Cary Grant was my original screen boyfriend and he was never better than in His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell. She battled him word by clever word. I mean who talks or acts like this in real life but don't you wish they did?
[his girl Friday Clip]
So many of these cornball movies have one particular scene that I just love—an I love you declaration, proposal scene or fantastic kiss.
Oh that “don't come after me, stay safe!" scene in The Lake House starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.
This is the romantic fantasy film about the relationship between an architect and the doctor who lived in his lake house two years before. The time traveling aspect gets a bit complicated but they are only able to communicate by putting letters into the lakehouse mailbox.
They begin to fall for each other, but first have to figure out where they're located in the time space continuum before they can be together.
Wait for me I'll be there… I mean all of the pent-up emotion during all of the intricate time traveling scenes before this one… it's a predictable trope resolving itself, but I'm still so happy to hear that creaky old mailbox has a final crucial message for these two.
[Lake house clip]
Saying I love you for the first time, a sweet intimate proposal and hot kiss are combined in one of the last scenes in The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Whoo boy that man can kiss. And it's even more charming when he does it after winding through a maze of office cubicles to reach her at their workplace.
When you put your big man hands on either side of her face and pull her close, I’m going to be glued to the screen every time.
Sure, many complicated things have to work out with perfect timing for this movie to even smack of realism but that doesn't take away from my enjoyment of one minute of it.
[The proposal clip]
Another proposal scene is the trope switch during Leap Year starring Matthew Goode and Amy Adams. If you've seen this movie you know but it's all about the Celtic tradition of women asking men to marry them once every four years (Is that even a thing?! I don't even care).
If you seen this movie you know his silence at the end means, and how they draw it out to just torture us. This movie isn't close to a documentary but it is dripping with charm, mostly because of the chemistry between the two leads and all of those scenes set in the Irish countryside.
[leap year clip]
Sometimes, I'm looking for a completely implausible world to escape to, like, I don't know, any of Nancy Meyers’ romantic comedies. Especially that California house and Kate Winslet's self-empowerment moment in The Holiday.
Okay here are my current nominations for more of the cheesiest but most enjoyable romantic films ever.
Grease 2 (oh Maxwell Caufield! Dreamboat), Blue Lagoon, Bridges of Madison County, Only You, Message in a Bottle, Ever After…And of course anything that appears on the Hallmark channel, especially around the holidays or with the word “Royal” in the title. They really pull out all the stops on those fake European countries, don't they? But the men are usually super yummy.
And now, a listener confesses about one of her favorite romantic over-the-top movies, Endless Love.
[Confession: endless love]
I would love to hear about your favorite corniest romantic movie or show. Just record a voice memo on your phone, click share and email to confessions of a closet romantic at gmail dot com Don’t forget to let me know if you want your confession to be private or shared.
Can’t wait to hear your nominations!
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So nice to have your company…until next time, wishing you shame-free corny romance!