Strangers In a Big City

It’s the 4th of July, and yes, I’m back with this again. It’s really a never ending feature. Although I’m currently relaxing in Austria’s Zillertal valley, I’ve still got Maggie and Melanie on my mind. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and there’s so much more to ruminate on…so why not?
You Dont Know JackOne Fine Day is one of those films I could watch every day. It oozes such sophisticated, old Hollywood charm that I find it impossible to resist; not that I want to. It is still my yardstick of ideal romantic comedy, as it follows the genre’s conventions so…effortlessly.
Maggie Sam and the MonkeyIt’s a lot like Addicted to Love in that respect. You walk in knowing full well how the film is going to end, so there’s never any real suspense (though the films always pretend there is). For example, in Addicted to Love, Maggie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Matthew Broderick) share the common bond of wanting to get back with or at their ex-lovers, but wind up falling in love with each other. Is there any doubt? No. So what makes a good romantic comedy? To start out, lets look at the actors and their chemistry together.
carsGeorge Clooney will always sell more tickets than Michelle Pfeiffer, but Michelle’s ability to breathe life into even the most contrived of cinematic clichés makes her even more special to me.
Charismatic ClooneyIn One Fine Day, Clooney’s Jack is a newspaper columnist whose aloof and irresponsible demeanor rubs Pfeiffer’s Melanie up the wrong way. You only have to look at the DVD cover to know this debonair lothario, will eventually sweep Pfeiffer off her feet, but George and Michelle somehow make it believable that they are the only ones who don’t realise they are perfectly matched.
Mel-atop-a-taxiI’m a big fan of romantic comedy; I’m also a fan of films that occur in a day. It makes for frenetic pacing, and One Fine Day fits the bill perfectly. It’s a film that exists completely in its era, but that doesn’t make it any less fine. I like that films can be fun and have a sense of joy and romance. This one nails it.
Melanie the Angel of the WatersMichelle Pfeiffer never gives a bad performance, and she keeps this film from spiralling into chaos through a combination of charm, grace and a force of character that defined the greatest of screwball comedians. She always manages to have strong chemistry with her leading men and the match with Clooney is no different. The poster couple of the era?Creatures of the Night Dissolve Broderick and Ryan don’t have it as simple. They seem an incongruous couple from the get-go; a cute version of Jekyll and Hyde, with Maggie decked out in black leathers and-tie-dye concoctions, that only serve to enhance her beauty.
Machiavelian MaggieIt’s a surprise then, that I like Addicted to Love as much as I do. It’s a “you had to be there” experience. Meg Ryan is a zany delight as the vindictive Maggie, an enchantingly goofy and alluring vision of Greenwich Village grunge. Maggie commits so many vile and evil acts, you might be repulsed were it not for Ryan’s charms. It’s fun to watch Meg as she pushes the envelope of her own comic persona, but Maggie’s chutzpah sometimes threatens to upset the equilibrium of a finely tuned four-way balancing act.
Leopard Print and Tye DyeI suppose the consensus is true. Films like these aren’t made any more, or maybe they are made but aren’t as revered. But I won’t go there, I’ll just revel in the past. Each film is special in its own right, and it is fun to pit them against each other. I was intending to reveal which is my favourite of the two, but I still haven’t found the answer. Maybe there is no answer. Maybe they’re equally fabulous.



Filed under Retrospective

5 responses to “Strangers In a Big City

  1. RB

    I’ll have to agree, and revel in the past. Sure, there are good films being made nowadays. They just don’t equal what was done before.

    • To quote Roman Payne:
      “Everything was brighter and more colourful in those years, as if my youth was ending in an explosion of unreal passion. Memories like these make my life sacred and holy.”

      Thanks for your friendship RB!

  2. Well as you might have noticed Paul, I myself having been enjoying watching older films on TV lately that I’ve seen before rather than the new films I’ve seen in the cinema. But of course you don’t re-watch bad films from the past so maybe that’s why I’ve been so grouchy. 🙂 It’s interesting that you say George Clooney will always sell more tickets than Michelle Pfeiffer since she was producing and starring in this film back in 1996 as a much bigger name than ER TV actor Clooney who was on the rise but not there yet and wouldn’t be until The Perfect Storm four years later. I too enjoy good films set around one day. Imagine as a double bill One Fine Day and Training Day. There are less rom-coms made these days I’ll give you that, if there are they usually have to have some kind of clever breakdown of clichés and traditional gender roles.

    • Lloyd I’ve enjoyed your recent reviews, it’s just a shame, but not a surprise (to me) that the films didn’t live up to your expectations. You’re right about One Fine Day. Clooney is so effortlessly charismatic you tend to forget he wasn’t a big movie star at that point. The film was a star vehicle for Michelle and looking at the box office stats it wasn’t the flop I imagined, out-grossing Addicted to Love, I.Q. and French Kiss!
      Thanks for all your recent, thoughtful comments my friend. Once I’ve finished replying to them, I might take you up on that One Fine Day and Training Day double bill.

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