Hollywood Dumps Romantic Comedies For Raunchier Laughs

When Jon falls for the beautiful Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, he finds his relationship expectations challenged, while Barbara has her own ideas for the kind of boyfriend Jon should be. “I wanted to play with rom-com conventions and poke fun at them a bit,” said Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote and starred in the lead role. “(Barbara) expects her relationship with Jon to be like the romantic movies that she watches, and she tries to make him into that kind of man. They’re both stuck in their expectations instead of accepting each other for who they are,” he added. “Don Jon,” rated R for its graphic sexual content and strong language, leads a wave of comedies taking the place of conventional romantic-comedies drawing audiences looking for warm feel-good films as the weather gets colder. Movies such as 2001’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary” starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant that made $281 million worldwide, and 2006’s “The Holiday” with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, which made $205 million at the global box office, demonstrated the power of romantic-comedies to bring in audiences. But in 2013, few traditional romantic comedies follow the traditional formula of boy meets girl in unlikely circumstances, falls in love and eventually lives happily ever after, a model that made films such as 1990’s “Pretty Woman” or 2001’s “The Wedding Planner” into romantic-comedy staples. “Rom-coms are not disappearing altogether, but there is a need for a novel approach … where the story-telling structure is different and doesn’t end with a woman and man just being happy,” said Lucas Shaw, film writer at TheWrap.com. COURTING MALE AUDIENCES Instead of romance, the fall season will see comedies such as “Bad Grandpa”, starring “Jackass” comedian Johnny Knoxville about an 86-year-old man traveling across America with his 8-year-old grandson, and “Last Vegas,” where four aging friends head to Sin City for a weekend of debauchery. The latter echoes the premise of the “Hangover” franchise spawned from four friends on a wild weekend in Las Vegas, with three films making more than $1 billion at the global box office. One romantic comedy vying for audiences this fall is British film “About Time,” about a man who can time travel, written and directed by Richard Curtis, the man behind hit romantic comedies including “Love Actually” and “Notting Hill.” The film starring Rachel McAdams has a 65 percent approval rating on review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com, but will go up against Marvel’s superhero sequel “Thor: The Dark World” and drama “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and is likely to have low expectations at the box office. “Studios don’t seem to be courting female viewers as much as they should be. Too many of the movies this year are aimed at a younger male audience like (December’s) ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’,” Shaw said. What’s more, even female-led comedies such as 2011’s “Bridesmaids” and this summer’s “The Heat” starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, have shied away from cinematic romance traditions and instead shown women behaving badly, a popular theme at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler,” by Ben Urwand

Photographer take pictures as the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of U.S. astronaut U.S. astronaut Michael Hopkins, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov  (KAZAKHSTAN - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

Mayer, William Fox, the Warner brothers and others ought to have acted in accord with a higher standard when they were neither elected representatives nor moral philosophers. They were moviemakers, and all they wanted was to amass fortunes and sit at the best table in the Brown Derby and play their mogul games and sing their mogul songs. If they prostituted themselves, they may have been shameful, but they were true to their nature. But if Urwand labors to turn a scholarly molehill into a mountain, he does the opposite in narrative moments throughout The Collaboration. One such instance occurs on the first page of the prologue, a description of a private viewing of King Kong. They saw an enormous gorilla . . . fall off the Empire State Building, Urwand writes. One of the characters muttered something about beauty and the beast. One of the characters? Muttered? Something? In fact, the speaker is Carl Denham (not so incidentally a movie director, who sets the entire plot in motion), and he clearly declares, It was beauty killed the beast. One of the most famous lines in movie history, this is hardly a random aside; its the take-away. Not to belabor a single sentence, but Urwand misrepresents the speaker, the statement and the tone. On the one hand, he seeks shock value in the vision of a flesh-and-blood monster watching a celluloid monster; on the other, he turns a potentially vivid scene into a dry sidelight. Urwand is too eager to find scandal.