Jaynes Your Way

Here are my thoughts about films, life, and what not. If you don't like them I'll give your money back.

# 1 A Little Romance

12 July, 2008

A Little Romance (1979)

"A Little Romance" was not my first choice of films for a Thursday night, but after watching it, realizing I enjoyed it immensely, I questioned why I was so reticent. Maybe because it was under the genre of "Romantic Comedy?" Yes, but why did this preclude me from, at the very lest, acting interested in it? Lately, movies such as: “50 First Dates”, “27 Dresses”, “What Happens in Vegas” have left guy viewers, and ladies, with a bad taste in their mouths. The cliché of the girl dragging her guy to romantic movies has somehow became a horrible nightmare instead of a charming joke. Why can’t guys be dragged to movies like “The Apartment” or “His Girl Friday?” After a while we would probably be running to these movies.

The new installments of romance are just too predictably safe, as much as it is saying that about them. The guy and the girl always get together. No matter what! Pixar couldn’t even escape this in “Wall-E.” Even if there is any doubt, the final few minutes of a movie will magically produce a happy ending to the audience that, apparently, requires it. Classic movies keep you guessing if two would be lovers will wind up together-- “Casablanca.” The other thing that seems so illogical about these new romantic movies is that the characters have been in bad relationships before, usually more than a few, but they still have that child like hope that there is a prince charming or Cinderella out there for them. Really? In reality that person would have settled for a wicked stepsister or, if really desperate, one of those house mice. Thanks eHarmony. This maybe-this-time syndrome is the opiate to the dating unfortunate, but does it make sense for the whole of movie going audiences? Why can’t we be offered endings like “Once?”

George Roy Hill, director of “A Little Romance,” avoids a lot of these problems by casting two children as the leads. Brilliant! When Daniel and Lauren meet for the first time it is believable that she starts to fall for him--but not really fall, it seems more like playtime. A 20 something woman, today, who has had years of pick up lines thrown at her would more than likely hurl when presented with “Call me Bogey. Why? Because they belong together,” which is what Daniel says to Lauren's on their first meeting. Lauren, Diane Lane in her first role, finds this charming because she has never been given so much attention, and there are really no strings attached--they are minors. The following rendezvous works because they are, essentially, on a play date, which are what real dates should be like. To take off some of the romantic comedy edge, Hill weaves in elements of slapstick through the veteran actor Laurence Olivier whose greatly need humor provides humor not derived from the relationship between Lauren and Daniel.

At first this film seems to have an unresolved issue with classic movies. A hack director in the movie is the constant butt of jokes because he tries too hard--maybe a little autobiography from Hill? No, Daniel is a nascent cinephile that could be a younger Hill. Daniel may seem every movie that he can, but he still has discerning taste, especially when it comes to idolizing actors like Humphrey Bogart and Paul Newman. I thought this was just French snobbery showing its preference for the classics, but Hill directed most of the movies that are clipped in “A Little Romance”. Is this hubris, bragging, or maybe just a nudge to revisit some classics like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?” I think the later, but what do I know? “I can’t swim,” but I took the plunge on this movie and survived...


Blogger Russell Patterson said...

I loved this movie as a teen - it was HBO a lot one summer and I really enjoyed it. I wonder if would hold up if I was to watch it again. I have always sort of mentally tried to believe it was George Roy Hill - I mean with The Sting, Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid, and Slap Shot on a resume it is easy to believe it was him. But in reflection I will have to say that I probably had/have a little crush on Diane Lane... what can I say?

14 July, 2008 02:05  

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