14 Romantic Comedies Starring Career Gals Who Don’t Deserve Love (YET)
12:45 pm, February 14th | by
I will freely admit that I love romantic comedies, and I have no taste. I can’t help but notice, however, that many of my favorite (as well as least-favorite) romcoms feature careerist heroines (who probably started out much like this girl) who are highly successful in their chosen professions but hopelessly unsuccessful in finding love and maintaining relationships. Just another reminder that women aren’t (or is it “shouldn’t be”?) able to have it all. Unfortunately, the Big Transformation in these movies typically involves the career woman learning to make love/her man a priority and maybe not be such a pain in the ass all the time, and usually there’s a handsome/rakish/rugged/goofy man who’s all to happy to help her come to this realization. In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s count down 14 of the worst offenders.
1.1. The Proposal
I should start out by saying that, like many of the movies on this list, I love
and will watch it anytime it's on TV, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't make me SICK. Sandra Bullock stars as a publishing bigwig who will be deported to Canada because her visa has expired, so naturally she decides that she should marry her assistant (played by Ryan Reynolds) in order to get a green card. They go to his hometown in Alaska to break the news to the family, Sandy B. gets a few days off to let down her hair and re-learn the meaning of family and love, and then she and Ryan Reynolds actually get married so that they can date. Naturally, the idea that Sandra Bullock's attractive, smart, powerful editor character wouldn't be single is preposterous. How could she hold on to a man? She's so The Proposal demanding and mean!
2.2. Raising Helen
is such a joke, and by that I mean Raising Helen Raising Helen is amazing and you won't be able to think of anything else for years after seeing it. Kate Hudson plays a career gal livin' it up in NYC. We're supposed to think that she's shallow and empty inside because she likes to go out dancing and to brunch with her friends, like, somebody put her in jail already! The universe is ready with its punishment for her free-wheeling ways, when her sister and brother-in-law die and she is suddenly put in charge of their three children, including a very annoying Hayden Panettiere. As if that wasn't enough to contend with, she is also fated to fall in love with PASTOR DAN, a literal collar-wearing priest and the principal at her new kids' school, played by John Corbett. She's eventually redeemed by becoming a really good mom to her sister's kids and, I guess, ceasing to care about dumb stuff like being successful in New York City in the field of her choice.
3.3. The Family Stone
I've seen this
movie several times, and I keep trying to get into it, but I just can't. Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and everyone's boyfriend Dermot Mulroney give it their all, but I can't get past the central conflict of the film, which is that everyone hates Sarah Jessica Parker because she's so UPTIGHT and UNCOOL. This is mainly conveyed through her eating pizza with a knife and fork, talking about meeting fiancé Dermot Mulroney through work, and acting shy and awkward around strangers who openly hate her and don't want her to be part of the family. Guess who teachers her how to loosen up? Dermot's stoner brother, played by Luke Wilson. Once she goes on a bender with him, gets egg casserole dumped all over her chest, and switches brothers, the family decides that they like her.
4.4. No Strings Attached
Natalie Portman is a young doctor who doesn't have
time to fall in love. Ashton Kutcher is "a production assistant for a musical TV show." These two crazy kids decide to embark on a "no strings attached" sexual relationship (...hence the name). Will the super-driven Emma be able to sleep with Ashton Kutcher on a regular basis without completely falling apart emotionally and realizing that she's in love with him? Probably not! Also in this movie: Kevin Kline playing an aging TV star who ends up in the hospital after a Purple Drank overdose.
5.5. Just Like Heaven
is so good. Reese Witherspoon plays a young doctor who doesn't have Just Like Heaven time to fall in love. She, Kate Hudson and Natalie Portman should get brunch and discuss evil career-girl stuff together. She gets set up on a blind date and on her way there she gets in a car accident that lands her in a coma. Her spirit is separated from her body and she doesn't realize what's happened at first, until it becomes clear that the only person who can see her is Mark Ruffalo...who was her blind date on that fateful night! Even though you could make the argument that according to this movie's logic getting set up with Mark Ruffalo is life threatening, the movie actually wants to make the case that the only way that Reese Witherspoon's life can be saved is through the love of a good man and a sorta-necrophiliac magical kiss, Snow White/Sleeping Beauty-style. This movie was made in 2005. Hot!
6.6. Two Weeks Notice
is not the worst offender on this list (though I will never forgive it for being so unapologetically grammatically incorrect), since Sandra Bullock's no-nonsense liberal career girl is portrayed as serious and capable in contrast to Hugh Grant's rich buffoon who can't decide which tie to wear on any given day. HOWEVER. Sandra Bullock still gets dinged by the movie for not being as hot/fun/sweet as the lawyer she hires to replace herself, played by Alicia Witt. AND she also doesn't get truly noticed as a romantic prospect until she stops dressing like a frump-monster and starts putting on a ball gown every once in a while. Still, these are minor crimes. Two Weeks Notice Two Weeks Notice gets off with a warning.
7.7. The Wedding Planner
This is a fine
film and Jennifer Lopez has never looked more beautiful than she does in this movie. Nonetheless, the fact that her character literally agrees to an arranged marriage with Justin Chambers, who is sporting the worst (best?) fake Eye-talian accent ever recorded on film, because it's better than being (rich and successful) alone, is perhaps not the greatest moment for feminism. Even if he does build her a sick dollhouse as a proposal.
8.8. Someone Like You...
I believe I first caught this
flick on a plane (billed here as Animal Attraction???) and was like "This movie gets me," because Ashley Judd's character had a cool-looking job on a TV show and wore a plaid coat that I thought was really cute. Then, when she got her heart broken by Greg Kinnear and created a false Dr. Ruth-esque identity in order to disseminate her theory that men and women are like bulls and cows, and became so wrapped up in her evolutionary psychology/fake identity scheme that she failed to notice that love was right in front of her all along in the form of a chain-smoking Hugh Jackman, and then had to humiliate herself at work, on TV, in order to come to the realization that she did love Hugh after all, I was like "Ugh." Still like the coat, though.
9.9. The Ugly Truth
I will never forgive Katherine Heigl for
suggesting that Knocked Up was sexist, and then turning around and starring in this piece of garbage, in which her TV producer character needs to be repeatedly humiliated by Gerard Butler in order to realize that she actually loves him. Meanwhile, Gerard Butler is the best at his TV gig (for a show that Heigl produces) lecturing women about how awful they are and what they need to fix about themselves, and is always right about everything and becomes a ratings powerhouse, and then gets an offer from Letterman, so Heigl has to beg him for his professional fidelity to boot. This movie is so, so offensively bad and Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler totally deserve the career slump that this film heralded for both of them.
10.10. Picture Perfect
We're going back to the archives for this one, but it's good: Jennifer Aniston, who is like me in that she is forever pining away for Kevin Bacon (with whom she works), has to pretend to get engaged because she's been passed over for a promotion for not appearing
"stable enough," and if she's someone's wife she will appear more so. THAT IS THE PREMISE OF THIS ROMCOM. IT WAS MADE IN 1997.
11.11. New In Town
New In Town is actually the only film on this list that I haven't seen, so I'm going let Wikipedia take the reins on this one:
"A high-powered consultant (Renée Zellweger) in love with her upscale Miami lifestyle is sent to New Ulm, Minnesota, to oversee the restructuring of a blue collar manufacturing plant. After enduring a frosty reception from the locals, icy roads and freezing weather, she warms up to the small town's charm, and eventually finds herself being accepted by the community. When she's ordered to close down the plant and put the entire community out of work, she's forced to reconsider her goals and priorities, and finds a way to save the town. After tasting her secretary's secret recipe of tapioca pudding, she decides to adapt a former yogurt production line to produce this special recipe of tapioca."
...I have nothing to add.
12.12. 13 Going On 30
is a special case because we never see Jennifer Garner (as her 13-year-old self in her 30-year-old body) being anything other than sweetness and light, although we learn that in adulthood she has become cutthroat, evil, and manipulative in order to survive in the magazine biz. She re-learns to prioritize relationships over work, earning back the love of Mark Ruffalo, THANK GOODNESS, and when she gets the chance to make another wish (which she originally used to transform herself into that über-successful 30-year-old) she wishes...to live in a pink house and to be Mrs. Mark Ruffalo! For Pete's sake. 13 Going On 30
13.13. Sweet Home Alabama
Reese Witherspoon (well hello again!) has become a very successful fashion designer (and the fiancé of Patrick Dempsey) in part by concealing her Southern roots. The only thing more hilarious than the idea of Southernness inherently making her a pariah among the New York fashion set is Witherspoon's wardrobe in this film. High-fashion, indeed. Before she can marry Dempsey she has to officially divorce her country-fried husband Josh Lucas, who doesn't think much of her high-falutin' ways. Once she backs off on her obsession with STATUS and SUCCESS and realizes she's in love with Lucas again, they get re-married. I would also like to note that at no point does anyone address her character's father's obsession with dressing up like a Confederate soldier and taking part in Civil War battle re-enactments, OR his yelling "Praise the Lord, the South has risen again!" when Candice Bergen gets punched in the face.
14.14. Just My Luck
Did anyone else see
in theaters, or was it just me? Lindsay Lohan plays Ashley Albright, a girl who magically has great luck that she uses to snag dates, promotions, and Sarah Jessica Parker's dry cleaning (seriously). When she plans a masquerade event for her job and meets and kisses Chris Pine, he "takes" her luck and suddenly she can't do anything right. She finds him, kisses him again and gets her luck back, before realizing that she'd rather be a TOTAL DISASTER in all facets of her life and be unsuccessful forever, rather than live without him. I think the whole thing is a metaphor, and I don't like it. Just My Luck