If I had to pick my favorite film genre, I'd probably have to pick romantic comedies, but with a twist. Now, I firmly believe that rom-coms are not limited to just chick flicks because the latter is a sub-genre of the former. Kind of like how all bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. Sure, a lot of romantic comedies are aimed at a certain demographic, and are vehicles for Katerine Heigel, but some break the mold.
My favorite type of rom-coms are the ones that are a little outside of the box, and can appeal to guys. Let me clarify, I'm not talking about bromantic comedies, and while I like this sub-genre as well, I'm getting at movies that are about guys who stumble across the women of their dreams. I feel that this type of movie can resonate with most guys because we've all been there before. Plus, I'm a sucker for a movie about a flawed man that finds true love...they make me feel hopeful.
A recent picture that seems to fall under this category is the much-raved about (500) Days of Summer. Since this flick is the current hub-bub of the indie scene, I've decided to rank my Top 5 Rom-Coms for Guys.
1. Garden State: Most male-centered rom-coms have a lead that is flawed in some major way, but they some how run across a quirky woman that they can't help but fall in love with. You cannot get much more flawed than Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), and of course while on a journey of self-discovery that takes him back home, he runs into the sage-like, compulsive liar known as Sam (Natalie Portman). They're a match made in hipster heaven. Now, I have to disclose the fact that Garden State is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I'm a bit biased, but I think that it's the perfect example of the male romantic comedy. A lot of 20-something guys have no idea who they are, or what they're destined for, and I think we all want that one person that helps ground us. While I'm not saying that finding a good woman is the key to a successful life, it does make it more enjoyable.
2. Chasing Amy: On the surface, Chasing Amy wouldn't fall under the romantic comedy genre, but I challenge people to watch closer. The film starts off as a typical Kevin Smith comedy with inappropriate sex jokes and comic books, but it quickly becomes something so much more. Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) is your prototypical dude who meets Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), and he instantly falls for her just to find out that she's a lesbian. The reason I love this movie is because of how real it is. Now, I'm not saying it's realistic that a guy can turn a lesbian, but this film exposes men when we're at our worst...when we're insecure about ourselves, and cannot get over our partner's past. This movie is a lesson on how to mess up a relationship. Chasing Amy is also a pretty good commentary about friendship, sexuality, and self-identity.
3. Numb: Numb is what Garden State would be if Zach Braff was in his late-30s rather than his late-20s. The plot is very similar to GS, where the flawed Hudson Milbank (Mattew Perry) is suffering from depersonalization disorder, and while on his journey towards normalcy he finds the quirkily cute, foul-mouthed Sara (Lynn Collins). They fall for one another, but Hudson sabotages the relationship because he doesn't think he'll ever be cured and doesn't want to bring Sara down with him. Of course he regrets this decision later, realizes she's the one, and tries to win her back. While the storyline is almost a carbon copy of GS, this film is a bit more grown up, and Perry's performance is slightly better than Braff's. Numb is far from a perfect picture, but I really enjoyed it, and I was bummed that it never received a theatrical release. If you liked Garden State, go out of your way to see Numb as well.
4. Stranger Than Fiction: I just adore Stranger Than Fiction, which is odd for me since I usually can't stand Will Ferrell movies. Then again, Fiction is far from your typical Will Ferrell movie, or any other romantic comedy for that matter. Ferrell's Harold Crick is a ho-hum IRS auditor whose life is forever changed when he starts hearing a voice narrate his life. This life-altering event leads him down a path towards his quirky dream girl, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Stranger Than Fiction seems like a Charlie Kaufman rip-off, but I think that it has more heart and is easier to follow. Plus, it sends a good message about challenging yourself to be something more than you think you are.
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Speaking of Charlie Kaufman, this list would be incomplete if it didn't have Eternal Sunshine on it. Quiet Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) meets the punked out girl of his dreams, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), on a train. They of course start dating, fall in love, but the relationship takes a turn for the worst, so they break up. Since this is a Kaufman film, they cannot deal with the break-up like normal people, so they decide to wipe each other from their memories. The reason I love this movie is because it's a clever, unique way to tell a story about true love. It's quirky, weird, unconventional, and brilliant.
I know these are not your typical romantic comedies, and they're not even your standard guy movies, but they are great films about how everyone deserves to be loved, and more importantly everyone is capable of loving. Sure, they have a formula like your traditional rom-com, but this formula is slightly off center, which makes watching these films a bit more challenging but also more rewarding.
Unfortunately, I have not seen (500) Days of Summer yet, and I don't think I will have the chance anytime soon due to my current location, but I do have the feeling that it will make the list once I do watch it.