Taylor Watches Rom-Coms: Vol. 2
The good, the bad, and the beautiful (because there's never any ugly in these movies)
Welcome back to Taylor Watches Rom-Coms! This month, I have a pretty eclectic bunch with an oldie (but not goodie), a new movie, and...a TV show. Enjoy!
Raising Helen (2004)
Helen Harris has a glamorous, big-city life working for one of New York’s hottest modeling agencies. But suddenly her free-spirited life gets turned upside down when she must chose between the life she’s always loved, and the new loves of her life!
Patrick and I have been on quite the Kate Hudson kick lately, even going so far as to watch her episode of Hot Ones - which she absolutely slayed and took like a champ, by the way. Raising Helen had been on my watchlist for a while now, but I realized about halfway through that this was actually a rewatch for me from my childhood, (as I mentioned in my previous installment, my mom and I kept Kate Hudson’s bills paid in my house).
This is a really interesting one for me and I'm unsure how to feel about it. On one hand, there is a pretty strong A Plot of her navigating motherhood for the first time as she becomes the sudden sole caretaker for her sister’s children. It’s decently written and executed, it’s effective, it’s heartwarming, and it evokes some strong performances from both adults and kids alike in the cast. I like this movie!
Then there are the additional, interwoven plots: John Corbett, who I didn’t think could be unlovable, is overbearing, overstepping, weirdly involved with her personal life, and gets to be almost stalkerish at a certain point. I’m not opposed to a little dating of the school principal, but the way this story was executed made me want to have him fired, not promoted to husband.
Hayden Panettiere, who I believe is a really strong actress (her performance in Remember the Titans is one of my favorite child performances of all time) is dimly written as the “troublemaker.” While that’s enough to make my eyes roll a bit, they take it to extremes when they make her hyper-sexualized. She looks like a baby, probably because she was one at the time, and her only personality trait is how much she wants to hook up with her dodgy boyfriend. At one point, Joan Cusack finds her in a cheap motel room with him and reams them both out (in a pretty iconic monologue to be fair), but the imagery is disturbing given how young they look. Let’s be honest, I’m not saying high schoolers don’t have sex. We all know they do, and people should be free to explore their sexuality consensually when they are ready, but the way they scripted it was poorly written and tasteless. This is the movie I don’t like.
I have this a 2.5 on Letterboxd because I feel completely split down the middle. Movie Plot A could be a solid 3.5, and Movie Plots B and C make it a 1. Do with that information what you will.
Ticket to Paradise (2022)
A divorced couple teams up and travels to Bali to stop their daughter from making the same mistake they think they made 25 years ago.
Let’s be honest for a second… it’s George Clooney and Julia Roberts in beautiful Bali. What more could you want?
When you look rom-coms up, they are both included on the top ten list. They’re adorable. Their chemistry is palpable. They’re supported by a similarly adorable bunch. It’s just a really solid, better-than-it-should-be, new rom-com and it gets a high recommendation from me. You should watch it so studio executives know we want more Julia Roberts and George Clooney movies.
Too Hot to Handle Season 4 (2022)
On the shores of paradise, gorgeous singles meet and mingle. But there's a twist. To win a $200,000 grand prize, they'll have to give up sex. (IMDB)
Am I cheating a little bit? Perhaps. Do I care? No.
I recognize this is not a true rom-com, but
I spent more hours than I’d like to admit watching this show and need a place to talk about it and...
It is both romantic and funny! So… a rom-com?
I love this show. I’ve seen every season and I will watch every other one they decide to make. There is literally nothing that lights my soul’s fire more than a trashy reality tv show about dating, especially ones of the “isolated on a villa” variety.
I could do a whole podcast on this, but I’ll keep it brief here since I’m already pressing my luck putting it in this column. I really enjoyed the cast this season and felt like there were some real signs of growth! Jawahir was my favorite, and I loved her relationship with Nick. It’s clear how hard they both worked to bring their walls down and it made me get warm and fuzzy every time they would bond. Creed was my least favorite, for obvious reasons, but also because he seemed to have the appeal of a plank of wood and yet was a hot commodity. I just don’t get the Creed hype!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this show if you’re also a big fan.
Click here to read Patrick’s thoughts on Season 3.
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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