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Films can connect with people on some powerful levels. They can break your heart, bring you to your feet in applause, even make you tremble in fear. They can also make you fall in love.
However, some movies can really botch up the emotional side of things, too – especially when it comes to falling in love. You have romantic classics like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind, but the majority of romances in cinema – particularly modern ones – are utterly lifeless, the exact opposite of what love should be.
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s Crazy, Stupid, Love hits theaters tomorrow, and while we’re expecting and hoping for the best from the multiple romances in the star-studded comedy, here are five of the craziest, stupidest romances in film, all for the sake of the pun.
5. Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen in Knocked Up
In 2007, Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up came along and, to the surprise of many, impressed critics and audiences alike. And why wouldn’t it? It’s a genuinely entertaining comedy with great humor, well-handled drama, and capable lead turns from Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen. However, the romance between the two characters really shakes things up for the otherwise great film.
It all begins as a drunken Heigl has a sexual encounter with Rogen’s character, resulting in a very much unplanned pregnancy. The two decide to join each other for the nine months leading up to their child’s birth, and you can only imagine how things progress from there (it’s considered a romantic comedy for a reason).
Heigl, in contrast to what we know of her from her typical rom-com turns in Killers and The Ugly Truth, actually plays a rather dramatic, unfunny character here. Rogen, however, shows up in typical form as the goofy, fun-loving guy that he basically seems to be in real life. They say that opposites attract, but for whatever reason, the romantic tension in Knocked Up never really seems to build between these two protagonists.
4. Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard
Ignore the fact that The Bodyguard is nothing more than a vanity project for the vocally phenomenal but theatrically less so Whitney Houston. Ignore the fact that the movie can’t decide on how to convey its convoluted story well enough to actually make any sense. Focus on the fact that the romance between Kevin Costner as the titular bodyguard and Houston as the singer/actress/goddess of the entire entertainment industry is, should we say, lacking a little bit.
Houston’s leading the film as a typical diva: she has all the fame in the world and everything that money can buy, but she’s incapable of emotion or feeling. Well, leave it to Costner’s bodyguard to change everything.
The big problem with the romantic aspect of The Bodyguard isn’t so much that Costner and Houston lack that spark – even though nothing really comes of it, they try their best to sell it. It’s that the situations and circumstances that conclude with the two falling in love are absolutely silly and insipid. If people really fell in love as easily as these characters did, then everyone would have found his/her soul mate before becoming an adult.
3. Idris Elba and Ali Larter in Obsessed
Okay, so this isn’t so much a crazy and stupid romance as it is a crazy and stupid crisis caused by Ali Larter’s obsession (hence the title) with the married and uninterested Idris Elba, but it still deserves a spot on this list because this is one of the craziest and stupidest thrillers ever.
The principle cast of Elba, Larter, and Beyoncé Knowles gets an A for effort since the actors really do try to sell this awful Fatal Attraction rip-off as something worthwhile and thrilling, but it’s so weakly written and poorly assembled that it comes off as a modern-day Ed Wood feature.
Larter meets and is immediately entranced by Elba, a family man who’s married to Beyoncé. That last word is a problem in and of itself, as competing with Beyoncé is a fight you’re going to lose anyway, regardless of who you are – even if you’re Ali Larter. As can be imagined, she doesn’t get the not-so-subtle hints of Elba's disinterest and continues to pursue him, only to go toe-to-toe with the “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” singer in one of the funniest “serious” movie fights ever.
2. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in Larry Crowne
This goes against my usual rule of letting a film age for at least a year or so before declaring it the best or worst “anything,” but when it comes to Tom Hanks’ romantic comedy Larry Crowne – which hit theaters at the beginning of the month – I can easily make an exception for what’s one of the least convincing and heartfelt romances to spawn from my entire memory of movie watching.
When seeing a romance unfold on screen it needs to be believable, but Hanks and Roberts’ characters in Larry Crowne are about as romantically compatible as water and oil are likely to mix together. Hanks as the titular character – a kind and good-hearted but ultimately dull and personality-lacking middle-aged man laid off from his job – and Roberts as his speech professor (don’t ask) work fine playing those particular characters, but there’s no chemistry or spark between them.
The weak writing doesn’t help either, as the two have an impromptu make-out session while Roberts’ character is drunk, avoid each other, and – for whatever reason – realize that they’re in love with each other. So much for these former titans of the romantic comedy scene.
1. Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in All About Steve
Finally, we’ve arrived at our craziest, stupidest movie romance: All About Steve, a romantic comedy of sorts about an eccentric woman played by Sandra Bullock who falls head over heels with Bradley Cooper’s Steve at first glance. It takes a series of inane twists and turns that result in an undeserved feel-good ending where everyone leaves happy and Bullock and Cooper aren’t together.
Yes, you read that right. The romantic leads don’t end up together. With a conclusion like that, Steve could have been a satire and/or interesting experiment focusing on how people expect romance to work thanks to Hollywood’s romantic comedy factory, but that wasn’t the case here.
When a film is meant to be a drama, it has to boast dramatic tension. When a film is to be a thriller, you must thrill viewers and keep them on the edge of their seats. When the intent of the film is to be a romantic comedy, the same applies.
Of course, this all happened during the Year of the Bullock. The actress could have eaten a steak dinner in front of PETA, and PETA wouldn’t have cared. She could do no wrong even when she was doing wrong. The film was the second of her three films out that year. While Steve wasn’t a hit, it didn’t take too long for audiences to forgive her. Her next film was The Blind Side, which became a huge hit and nabbed her the Academy’s Best Actress honor.
At the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony – perhaps better known as the Razzie Awards – Bullock even recognized the absurdity of the All About Steve romance upon accepting the Worst Couple "honor" and her very own Worst Actress "prize."