I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. Even the shitty ones still manage to suck me in every now and then. If we’re being honest, rom coms are basically action movies for girls and nancy boys like me. Substitute quirky acts of love for gun battles, a breakup for the “battle is lost” moment, and toss in an equal number of cheeky sidekicks and you’ve got yourself a movie. Sometimes, we need to remember that neither type of movie–action or romance–is at all realistic. It’s easy to remember this when it comes to action movies, because you’re implicitly aware that you can’t backflip off a wall and kill a dude by kicking a gun into his head. For some reason, though, our expectations for love are elevated by romantic movies. I decided to break down a few of my favorites and explain what would actually happen if the characters and scenarios played out in the real world.
1. “She’s Out Of My League”
I’m not saying really hot girls with great jobs and wonderful personalities don’t ever date down, because sometimes they do. The whole “You’re a 10, bro!” scene was pretty touching. But here’s the thing: Jay Baruchel’s character isn’t a 10. Sure, he’s funny, quirky, charming, and he isn’t a total chode, but he’s also super self-conscious and emotionally needy. In reality, the dudes who aren’t as good looking or successful as their girlfriends only get them by being fun, secure, and confident in themselves. Once he has his self-conscious meltdown, his attractiveness is shot. She leaves him right then and there and gets back together with the douchey fighter pilot, who actually isn’t all that douchey. All makes sense in the world again.
2. “Love Actually”
Billy Mack is a dick rockstar who doesn’t give a fuck about anyone. He goes to Elton John’s party and lets his manager stay home and be a lonely man. Mark shows up to declare his secret love for Kiera, who immediately tells her husband, Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, and their friendship ends with a fistfight. Colin Firth and his cute Portuguese lady friend break up after six months because the language barrier is too difficult to overcome. Emma Thompson divorces Snape, who decides to move in with his sexy, younger secretary, effectively winning the breakup. The press finds out about Prime Minister Hugh Grant’s scandalous affair with his former staffer, which–combined with his insulting of the U.S. president–gets him impeached and ends his political career in disgrace. Liam Neeson’s son dates his American crush for a little while, only to get kidnapped by Armenian terrorists a few months into the relationship. Laura Linney’s mentally ill brother ends up taking too much of a toll on her life and she smothers him in his sleep, earning her life in prison. The sex scene body doubles date for a little while, but the strain of both of them being sex scene doubles with other people ultimately dooms their relationship.
The storyline with the average-looking British dude who goes to America and cleans up with the ladies stays exactly as it is, because those guys are like catnip for you broads.
3. “Notting Hill”
Celebs dip into the mortal dating pool every now and then, so I don’t take issue with the premise of this movie. Plus, Hugh Grant is immensely charismatic in his own swoopy-hair, buffoonish way, so it makes sense that Julia Roberts (who’s ostensibly playing herself, something she seems to be good at) would end up falling for his wiles. I imagine it can be quite relieving for a celebrity who’s used to being the center of all attention to date someone who lives in a normal person bubble, where everyone is on equal footing. But then the reality of her celebrity status invades their world. Sure, she comes up with pretty good reasons for why she acted certain ways around our droopily charming hero, and it makes sense that he would forgive her and pursue her, but the fact is, he was right when he said that he couldn’t take it if she were to reject him again. Something is inevitably going to happen as a result of her career that comes in the way of their relationship again. The fact is, as much as we don’t like it, she’s much better off with Alec Baldwin (who is also ostensibly playing himself). They’re from the same world, and they fully understand each other’s struggles. Hugh Grant just needs to find a sweet little bookworm to help him co-run the store and live in Notting Hill forever.
4. “The Notebook”
Noah and Allie have a lovely summer together where they laugh and go on all sorts of adventures. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he pisses off her parents. When the parents step in and call him trash, Noah goes off to war and dies, because that’s a more statistically likely scenario. Allie gets married to rich-ass Jimmy Marsden, who’s actually a delightful guy and didn’t deserve the treatment he got in the original movie. Allie eventually develops a drinking problem. This turns her bitter against her wonderful husband, and she takes every possible opportunity to remind him of her fling with Noah and his far superior sexual prowess. They stay married since that’s what rich, unhappy people do, but she ultimately alienates all of her children, so when she develops Alzheimer’s, she is stuck in a nursing home with none of her family to visit her. In her delirium, she imagines Noah never died and that she ended up getting married to him and having her happily ever after life.
That’s right, folks. The movie you saw was actually the desperate fever dream of a dementia patient.