Hollywood's Current 'Romantic Comedies' Heavy on Hook Ups, Light on Romance
With R-rated romantic comedies featuring such wholesome themes as casual sex among acquaintances, marital infidelity, oral sex jokes, friends with benefits, and random hooking up, the Hollywood assault on America's traditional values is alive and well.
2011 is the unofficial year of the raunchy Hollywood movie in which loyalty, sexual self-control, and marital commitment are fodder for comedy and where the idea of f**k buddies reigns supreme. "Love and Other Drugs," "No Strings Attached," "Hall Pass," and "Friends with Benefits" are four Hollywood creations in late 2010 and early 2011 in which attractive 20-somethings were cast as glorified sluts and man-whores, leading mostly consequence-free lives.
Yes, "sex sells," so it's a staple in the film industry. "Couples Retreat," "Hangover," "40-year old Virgin," "Sex and the City", "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" are a handful of the raunchy romantic comedies to grace the silver screen in the last few years. And in 2011, Hollywood is blitzing theaters with tasteless sexual comedies.
Love and Other Drugs
Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal play two young professionals, leading career-driven and relationship-free lives. The November 2010 rated-R comedy/drama centers on the benefits of sexual hookups between the two attractive professionals without the "burden" of a formal relationship. Both Maggie (Hathaway) and Jamie (Gyllenhaal) are afraid his career as a pharmaceutical sales representative (marked by sleeping with various colleagues) would be hampered by "love," and that her secret battle with early-onset Parkinson's Disease would further complicate a serious romantic relationship. Unfortunately for their plans, the two find more than just immediate sexual gratification in one another, but companionship, dependability and the dreaded "love."
On the outside, it appears this romantic-comedy has all the makings of an "Aawww, how sweet!" review. But when one considers that there are negative, real-life consequences of sexual promiscuity, the rom-com isn't so sweet. Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and shallow, hurtful emotions can result from promiscuous sexual escapades, and yet, the behavior is glorified on the big screen.
Focus on the Family's entertainment review website Plugged In sums up the film this way: "This, at its core, is the difficulty of Love & Other Drugs. It tells us that love and relationship are far better than casual sex. But it forces us-all of us-to voyeuristically experience lots and lots of the titillating, 'non-important' stuff before we get the message."
No Strings Attached
Mid-January 2011 brought movie goers "No Strings Attached," another R-rated romantic comedy, this time starring Hollywood heartthrob Ashton Kutcher, and recent media favorite and Oscar-winning actress, Natalie Portman. Kutcher's character, Adam, is handsome and charming and entirely uninterested in long-term relationships with women because his role-model, his father, has spent his life moving from one sexual liaison to another. Long-term friend Emma, played by Natalie Portman, is a busy and accomplished medical student with simply no time for love.
When Adam ends up on Emma's couch after a night of drunken partying, the duo realized that it might be possible to rekindle a friendship that is merely sexual. When the pair recognizes that they cannot stave off the eventual emotions that accompany the physical connection, Adam and Emma profess their love for one another and leave viewers the impression that they will try their hand at a long-term relationship. The movie is full of crude sexual jokes, immature bathroom humor, and numerous scenes of Portman and Kutcher sleeping together. In fact, the original title for the film was "F**k Buddies."
The R-rated comedy 'Hall Pass' debuted in theaters in late February 2011. It featured an inspiring plotline that follows a couple of dopey middle-class husbands who, after being caught by their wives discussing sex with other women, are granted a week-long 'hall pass' from their marriages, families, and responsibilities. This week of "no rules" means the restless men can engage in immature, promiscuous and lewd behavior without consequences from their wives.
Predictably, Rick and Fred (played by Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis respectively) spend that week seducing attractive young women, binge drinking with Fred ultimately cheating on his wife. The movie ends with commitment to their marriages winning out and regret settling in, but not without taking the viewer on a wild alcohol-induced, sex-crazed, romp.
Friends with Benefits
We're not out of the woods yet as 2011 is just heating up. "Friends with Benefits" is slated to release in July 2011, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. The yet-to-be rated film looks to be another romantic comedy with attractive 20-somethings that use each other to fulfill their sexual gratification. Director Will Gluck admits the film is about sex in his interview with blog.moviefone.com. "I wanted to do more of an adult movie about sex, too, and about relationships," Gluck told reporter Jen Yamato.
In 2008, a Reuters poll confirmed CMI's 2007 findings that Hollywood's morals, are not America's morals, and that 59 percent of Americans think that TV networks and movie studios, "don't share the religious and moral values of most Americans." Judging by the box office numbers of these movies, the poll seems to hold true. "Love and Other Drugs" had an estimated budget of $30million and only brought in $9 million its opening weekend. "No Strings Attached" did better, with an estimated budget of $25 million and in its opening weekend, grossed a little less than $20 million, and has made $70 million as of March 20, 2011. "Hall Pass" however, did not fare as well, budgeting $36 million, and only making $13 million its opening weekend.