Book Review: Romantic Comedies - Cheaper Than Therapy?

Here’s my book review of Romantic Comedies by Pamela Jaye Smith.

The theme – indeed, the promise – of Romantic Comedies reads like a money-back guarantee. And I quote:

Studies suggest that couples who watch romantic movies together and then discuss them and their feelings about them may have a better stay-together rate than similar couples who enter traditional therapy.

Romantic Comedies a filmography by Pamela Jaye Smith (cover Johnny Ink, Michael Wiese)

Really? I mean, really? You won’t find a return coupon in the back, but I don’t think you’ll need it. Consider the bargain. Professional therapy costs upwards of a hundred bucks and hour. And even though the price of theater tickets keeps going up, investing in a pair of them – plus the price of this book – is a significant savings. And streaming – well, that feels free, even if it isn’t. (The exception is opera tickets. Good seats cost way more than therapy. And the lessons learned aren’t nearly as good. Spoiler alert, most lead sopranos will die before the final curtain. Not much help.)

Something's Gotta Give (2003 Sony Pictures) "I'm sixty-three years old and I'm in love for the first time in my life."

But back to this book – Romantic Comedies. It is literally a collection of facts and plots about rom-com movies – both classic and recent. It is – in geek speak – a filmography. So, you won’t be reading it from cover to cover – unless you’re woefully missing the point.

Here’s how to consult – I won’t say read – this how-to book. Agree, if you can, with your significant other on the issue you both want to resolve. In the table of contents, find a section heading that’s closest to the topic at hand. For example, “Get Me to the Church on Time – or Not.” Or, if you happen to be watching by yourself, “Again… Should You Really Reconnect with Your Ex?” And – for extra credit in case you’re up for the challenge, there’s “Forgiveness – the Only Way to Move Forward.”

As Good As It Gets (1997 TriStar) "Do you have any control over how creepy you allow yourself to be?"

Okay, turning to the section on getting to the church, you’ll find four film summaries: My Best Friend’s Wedding, In & Out, The Princess Bride, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. For each of these entries, along with lovely snaps, you’ll find Release Date, Brief Description, Cast, Lover Types, Love Lessons, Quotable Quotes, and a Story summary.

Amélie (2001 Lionsgate) "Amélie has a strange feeling of absolute harmony."

In Four Weddings and a Funeral, you’ll find Hugh Grant asking himself, “Why am I always at weddings and never actually getting married?” And among the lessons to be learned, Ms. Smith opines:

Marriage is different for everybody. Don’t rule out the possibility of it working for you just because you haven’t seen what you think you want in other people’s marriages.

Author Pamela Jaye Smith (how does she know?) (photo by Kate McCallum)

Interestingly, author Pamela Jaye Smith is not only an expert on movies, mythology, and storytelling, but she’s also advised the U.S. Army on what she calls the warrior archetype. So where did she find the tips and tricks she put in this book? Don’t ask. The answer is probably classified.

Mama Mia! (2008 NBC Universal) "There's no hurry anymore, when all is said and done."

Okay, that should be all the guidance you need. Here’s a little self-scoring quiz to see if you’re ready. You’re facing a screen, and you’re seated on a couch, your couch. Now, when I said the word couch, you thought: a) you wish your therapist were in the room, b) you can’t wait to undress the person sitting next to you, c) you forgot to stop by the fridge before you sat down, or d) you want to take a nap.

Now, there are no wrong answers. Or are there?

Gerald Everett Jones is author of Bonfire of the Vanderbilts and host of the GetPublished! Radio show.

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