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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Favorite Sci-Fi Romantic Comedies

This is an odd mixed genre, but it is one of my favorite kind of genre mixes, like sci-fi westerns or horror comedies. I like creativity in stories, and going beyond the expected, and these stories really turn it up in great ways. I haven't watched them too often, because I don't want them to lose their magic. But I highly recommend these films for anyone who is a fan of romantic comedies but would like to see something a little flipped.

TiMER (2009) takes the idea of matchmaking and puts in the form of a corporation called TiMER, finding a unique and nearly foolproof way of finding one's true love. The corporation gives people the opportunity to have an electronic timer surgically implanted into their wrist, so that they would know how many years, months, days, and minutes it will take them until they happen to meet their soul mate, where the two TiMERs will beep and true love will be found. It removes the idea of trusting fate and leaving love to chance, and turns love more into an electronic convenience purchased for a monthly fee.

The film centers on Oona (Emma Caulfield), a young woman whose TiMER is blank, meaning that her soulmate has not been equipped with one. She brings her boyfriends to the corporation, but each time they have the TiMER implanted, they never beep together, meaning they're not meant as soulmates. She is worried about her fate, feeling she will never find her soulmate, and overly relies on this computer in her wrist rather than trusting her instincts when it comes to love. She happens to meet a relaxed young grocer whose TiMER shows he is meant to meet his soul mate in a few months, and after some hesitation, Oona decides to take a chance on dating him. But outside appearances are not what they seem, and this challenges Oona to figure out whether love should be pre-determined or not.

Meanwhile, her stepsister Steph (Michelle Borth), whose TiMER states she will find true love at age 43, uses her time as an opportunity to sleep with men whose TiMERs are about to expire, enjoying their last time of singledom before they fall in love with someone else. She is relaxed and at ease about this, but thinks otherwise where she does start a relationship with a man who doesn't have a TiMER.

This was one of the most relatable romantic comedies I've ever seen, and one that was very realistic, as I can see people wearing TiMERs and it becoming a convenience, as seen as with parents who have their teen kids wear it in hopes of a loving marriage. Oona is neurotic and overthinking, but is still quite sweet and likable, and I felt supportive of her, even if I wanted her to lose the TiMER and enjoy life without it. I found the film via Netflix, and it is a wonderful film that has gotten plenty of positive attention amongst indie film fans.

Happy Accidents (2000) stars Marisa Tomei and Vincent D'Onofrio, and is a fantastic and odd little movie that plays with the audience's expectations of what is and isn't real. The main actors share a sweet and quirky chemistry together, and though I've only seen it twice, I still get stunned at how great it is and how little it's known.

Ruby (Marisa Tomei) is a sweet woman who has had a bad string of relationships (The Narcissist, the Drummer, etc.), due to her habit of taking care of insecure and immature men. Her friends and her therapist keep telling her she has to take care of herself, and not trying to fix her boyfriends in her doomed-to-fail relationships. But she is still optimistic about love. In the park, she happens to meet Sam Deed (Vincent D'Onofrio), a charming yet odd man who is immediately enraptured by her. They fall in love, and afterwards, Ruby notices more of his idiosyncrasies, like his fear of dogs, his constant headaches, his obsession with a woman named "Chrystie Delancey," and his spells where he just blanks out and stares at nothing in particular. Ruby doesn't want him to be a freak like all the other men she has dated, and continues to hold onto hope that he will be "the one."

But when Sam tells her that he is really a time traveler from the year 2470, it is just another entry into her box of Exes, of strange and immature men that she has been with. Ruby has a hard time understanding the story, going between thinking it is a sick delusion and enjoying the fantasy of his involved stories about life in the future. The movie has its charm in that the audience is right there with Ruby as she learns more, and Marisa Tomei's performance is just wonderful. She has the versatility to play characters that can be normal, average women, as well as very sexy and mysterious and intriguing, and make both of them very true to life. She always comes off as completely genuine and open onscreen, and grounds this film whenever it seems to get too strange. And while I am not always a fan of Vincent D'Onofrio, he is very good in this film, with a awkward shyness that fits the character perfectly. The audience wants to believe him, to see the future through his eyes, while still trying to stay rational with their doubts.

There are more twists in the story that leave confusion as to whether Sam is for real or not. A comparison to this could be Don Juan DeMarco, where the audience is unsure if the Johnny Depp character is mentally ill or truly the romantic hero he says he is. It is best to just let your reality go, and enjoy the film.

Heart and Souls (1993) isn't really a romantic comedy, more of a fantasy/comedy film, but it is one of my favorite science-fiction films. It stars Robert Downey, Jr. as a man who has four ghosts (Charles Grodin, Tom Sizemore, Alfre Woodward, Kyra Sedgwick) who have been with him all of his life. The ghosts died in a bus crash in 1959 just as he was born, and through only completing their unfinished business through Downey's body can they ascend to heaven.

The ghosts come from all walks of life. Penny (Woodward) was a single mom with three kids who worked the night shift to support her family. Julia (Sedgwick) was a waitress who was unsure about whether or not to marry her boyfriend, and was on her way to accept his proposal. Harrison (Grodin) was a singer whose stage fright kept him from succeeding further. And Milo (Sizemore) was a petty thief who stole priceless stamps from a kid for a wealthy boss. They all need to not only use Thomas Reilly (Downey, Jr.)'s body to fulfill their last business, but also to convince him to not value his yuppie lifestyle over his loving girlfriend and to become a more compassionate individual, so he doesn't make the same mistakes some of them made.

This is truly a wonderful film, and everyone shines in it. Downey, Jr. is fantastic at physical comedy, and whenever one of the ghosts enters his body, the audience really believes him as that person, with voice, body, and all. This, Chaplin, and Home for the Holidays were the first films I noticed him in, and he has an incredible ability to lose himself in these roles, becoming nearly unrecognizable.

The cast as ghosts were at some of their best work ever in this film. Grodin, normally cast as a bitter miser at this time (Clifford, Beethoven), is great as the hesitant coward, someone with talent who holds himself back. Sizemore, who I normally cannot stand because he seems a little too good at playing psychopathic killers, brings a softer edge to his performance as the perverted yet likable Milo, who grows in humility as he befriends the other ghosts and gets a chance to redeem himself. Sedgwick as Julia brings such a warm and sweet personality to her role, infusing her with a kindness that makes her character very touching and tragic. And Woodward was incredible as Penny, the nurturing mother who is on a search to find her children that were split up by social services after her death, and her story arc resulted in one of my favorite scenes of the film. I will not give it away, but it always makes me want to cry with happiness whenever I see it, a testament to Woodward's stunning talent as an actress.

1 comment:

  1. Loved all these reviews...can't wait to track them do!wn to see them