Critical Assessment

Romantic comedies are considered to be light-hearted stories about love, usually with a happy ending. Although the quality of a film is extremely important for critical assessment, when the filmmaker is a woman and the film’s story focuses on a woman’s life the movie suddenly becomes a “woman’s film” in the pejorative sense by film critics regardless of the quality.

The implication is that the “woman’s film” rom-com is less interesting to both sexes than a rom-com that is directed by a male since the male-directed movie may be centered around the same theme of love and happy ending but it is usually about a man’s life (for example, 40-Year Virgin; Silver Linings Playbook).

The movies below are written and/or directed by Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers. They are considered adult Romantic Comedies (Rom-Coms). The movies listed in this link are also considered Rom-Coms. Select ONE film to view directed by a woman either from this link or the Ephron/Meyers titles below for this Assignment. NO MORE THAN TWO. Special note about titles mentioned in this link: no television or streaming “series” are eligible for this assignment – only feature films.

(a) If you are a female do you think your chosen film would interest a male in your life (brother, father, husband, mate, friend)? Why or why not? If you are a male do you think your chosen film would interest a female in your life (sister, mother, wife, mate, friend)? Why or why not? And do you think your selected movie really belongs in the Rom-Com category?

(b) If your movie is about a couple which character dominates the story male or female or do they both get equal screen time?

(c) Read a review by a reputable movie critic* after seeing your movie and find a passage about the reviewer’s reaction that matches your own reaction.

,question 4

Is there a passage in the article written six years ago that still applies to today or is the writer’s argument out of date now?

*Reputable movie critics: Roger Ebert; The New York Times; Tim Dirks; The New Yorker; The Guardian; Film Comment


(1998) (1hr/59min) Genre: Drama, Rom/Com. The movie is about two people in an “online” romance* who are unaware that they are also business rivals.

*optional reading: The Handwritten Love Letter is Dying by Jared Keller

(2009) (1hr/58min) Genre: Drama The film contrasts the life of chef Julia Child in the early years of her culinary career with the life of young New Yorker Julie Powell, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s cookbook in 365 days, a challenge she described on her popular blog that made her a published author. The film is the first major motion picture based on a blog.

(1993) (1hr/45min) Genre: Drama/RomCom A recently widowed man’s son calls into a talk-radio show in an attempt to find his father a new wife.

(1992) (1hr/45min) Genre: Drama. Divorcee Dottie Ingels (Julie Kavner) works in retail, but she really wants to make it as a comedienne. After receiving an inheritance, Dottie decides it’s now or never, and moves to New York City with her children.


Theatrical release poster

The Guardian 2015 Review of a 1989 movie(1989) (1hr, 36min) Genre: Drama/RomCom. Does sex make it impossible for men and women to be true friends? This romantic comedy chronicles that dilemma through an eleven year relationship…


It’s Complicated

Genre: Drama/RomCom When attending their son’s college graduation, a couple reignite the spark in their relationship. But the complicated fact is they’re divorced.

The Parent Trap

(1998) (2hrs, 8min)

Drama: family/comedy Nick Parker and a British Elizabeth James meet and get married during an ocean cruise but after the birth of their twin daughters get a divorce.

What Women Want

(2000) (2hr, 7min) Genre: Rom/Com A severe electrical shock gives ladies man Nick the ability to hear women’s thoughts. Will he become a better person? Or will he take his habit of manipulating women to a whole new level?

2003) (2hrs, 8min)

Genre: Rom/Com Harry Sanborn is a wealthy New York 60 year old music mogul who has had a habit of dating women under 30, including his latest conquest, Marin Klein, daughter of the Diane Keaton character.

(2015) (2hr, 1min) Genre: Comedy Starting a new job can be a difficult challenge, especially if you’re already retired.

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