Not every romantic comedy can be an Annie Hall or even a There’s Something About Mary, but some, if not most, seem to be completely devoid of both romance AND comedy. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day — and the amount of “Best Romantic Comedies of All Time!!” lists that have already been hashed and rehashed ad nauseam — we take a look at the rom-coms that are so lazy, they miss both of the genre’s titular elements.
With Dane Cook in the lead role, it was immediately clear that this so-called romantic comedy would be very light on comedy. But Cook’s failure as a comic actor pales in comparison to his inability at making movie romance believable — and let’s be honest, Jessica Alba didn’t help matters (nor did her insistence on being the only clothed actress in the movie). Chuck was nothing more than a gratuitously vulgar attempt at a Dane Cook vehicle, and luckily it proved that Dane Cook is not capable of operating a vehicle.
Only funny in how bad it is and only romantic in that director Guy Ritchie basically did a favor for his then-wife Madonna, Swept Away is probably the trough of 21st-century romantic comedies. Madonna and Adriano Giannini stumble, fumble and bumble, chemistry-free, through the romantic scenes, sex or no sex, and any bit of intended humor, satirical or broad, was clearly lost on everybody — including the movie-going public.
Dismiss it as an action-adventure-thriller-comedy all you want — truth is, Fool’s Gold is a rom-com at heart, aiming to capitalize on the lucrative “chemistry” displayed by Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey five years earlier in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. The results were atrocious, with no manner of physicality, be it in the pratfall or romance department, working in any fashion and McConauhudson turning in career-worst performances. Not that their A games — or 250 more cameos from McConaughey’s bare chest — would’ve been able to salvage such a ridiculous concept, but still.
Their brief off-screen romance was very difficult to believe, but at least Ben Affleck and J. Lo appeared to possess some sort of opposites-attract chemistry. The same most certainly cannot be said for Gigli, THE cinematic punch line of an entire decade. To say it wasn’t a straightaway romantic comedy is something of a cop-out and only true to a certain degree, as it was more so a case of director Martin Brest not knowing what he wanted the movie to be. It’s safe to assume he didn’t want it to be romantic or funny, either.
The modern-day poster child of rom-com awfulness — and How to Succeed at the Box Office Without Really Trying — Valentine’s Day’s A-list laundry list brought out Julia Roberts fiends (and perhaps their reluctant boyfriends) in droves. But there was scarcely, if ever, a moment of romance (or even a wholehearted attempt thereof) — or a scene at which a single non-star-struck moviegoer would chuckle. Maybe the sequel, New Year’s Eve, will fare rom-commier. Kidding.
Should Be Placed on Five Years’ Rom-Com Probation: Sarah Jessica Parker, Freddie Prinze Jr. (apparently Hollywood agrees!), Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey, Gerard Butler, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Kate Hudson and Jennifer Lopez.