A Whole New Genre

I’m going to break out of my typical film post style to tell you about my new favorite genre of film – the sci fi romantic comedy. I’ve recently watched three movies that I thoroughly enjoyed and I realized one thing that was connecting them all was a very atypical frame for a typical story. So here they are, three sci fi rom coms totally worth checking out. If you can think of others, send them my way!

TiMER (2009)

I've finally been watching the later seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and though the show kind of wallows in some depressing/annoying story lines, I really enjoy Emma Caufield in just about every episode. By the way, the sci fi is that little stop watch thingee on her wrist.

Basically, when you boil down the plot of TiMER it’s a pretty straightforward rom com of the woman-having-a-mid-life-crisis-at-30 variety. As a woman I find this more entertaining than some. But even though the movie doesn’t answer most of the really interesting questions it poses, it certainly got me thinking about them. If you had a timer that told you the exact moment you met your “one” how would that change the way you treat human relationships before that?

Our main character, Oona (Emma Caufield), has a timer that’s blank, meaning her “one” hasn’t had his timer implanted (although I’m sure Oona is a little concerned that it actually means she’s going to die miserable and alone). In the end, her story arc is fairly predictable. What I loved about this movie though was the relationships she develops. Her friendship with her step-sister (who has her own timer-related issues) is what holds my attention through this flick. I might even have watched this if it were plain old rom com.

The Invention of Lying (2009)

Our main character Mark (Ricky Gervais) maintains his likability while being an outright liar, by being more peeved than intrigued by everyone else's complete faith in the veracity of his words

Do alternate realities count as sci fi? I think they do. In this alternate universe, no one has ever considered the notion of telling a lie. Everybody also seems pretty prone to saying everything on their mind too (which I’m not sure is a necessary side of effect of lying), which makes for a pretty comedic premise in and of itself. Again, this story basically ends up being a romantic comedy – the guy version. Under-doggy, every-man, Mark (Ricky Gervais) is in love with Anna (Jennifer Garner) who likes him, but isn’t attracted to him. Nothing new.

Except this premise is so radical, I actually found myself having a hard time sinking into it (not that this made the movie less enjoyable for me). I kept thinking to myself, “That’s so obviously not true, why does everyone believe what Mark is saying?” But in a world where people only say what is true, Mark must always be telling the truth, even when he isn’t. I found this movie surprisingly hilarious. And the extra thinking you get to do about a whole new premise makes the rom com feel all fresh and exciting (mostly).

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This movie had the most fascinating depiction of memory I could have imagined! Don't worry, their roof doesn't have a leak, they're just transitioning to a different memory.

Ok, so I know I’m finding this movie really late, but I just watched it finally and I sort of fell in love with it. To be honest, this movie is what kicked off my new obsession with this new genre. And Eternal Sunshine is far and away the best quality film out of this trio. Because in the end it isn’t really a romantic comedy so much as it’s a movie that is funny but also gives a very honest depiction of a relationship, why it’s falling apart and what it will take to sustain it (the answer: science fiction). I don’t want to get to into the details of this one’s plot because I think everyone knows the premise by now. But all the thumbs up folks. Make some time for this new genre because it will rock your socks.

Perhaps the first installment into this genre was Aliens (1986). I mean the romance/comedy between Ripley and Hicks is pretty much the heart of that movie…

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One Response to A Whole New Genre

  1. dihansmann says:

    Hear, hear! The Ripley Hicks romance is epic. And while I’m not sure that movie could really be called a “romcom,” if we stretch the definition to mean if there’s romance and there’s comedy its a romantic comedy … it could work. After all, that’s one of the main romcom variables (aside from hair length, height and eye color) – what the two characters do. Sometimes they’re a doctor and a patient, sometimes a boss and a secretary, sometimes a medical intern and a guy who writes a stupid TV teen comedy. In this case he’s a soldier and she’s a pilot (who’s consulting on how to kill a horrible, acid drooling, blood thirsty alien). There’s so much job-related situational humor to be mined there!

    (Although on second thought I think its missing a giggly snuggly montage with iconic song … so it might not count after all.)

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