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From Chick Flicks to Kick Flips: ‘The Fall Guy’ and the Evolution of Rom-Coms

The romantic comedy genre, affectionately dubbed “rom-com,” has a rich history that dates back to the silent film era. While it’s challenging to pinpoint the first movie that started the genre, Girl Shy (1924) by Harold Lloyd is often cited as a pivotal early example. Since then, a plethora of iconic rom-coms have graced our screens, from 90s classics like Pretty Woman and Sleepless in Seattle to more recent hits in the 2000s and 2010s such as The Proposal and Crazy Rich Asians

But now, fast forward to May 3, 2024, a new chapter unfolds with the highly anticipated rom-com, adventure The Fall Guy. The film follows Colt Seavers, a veteran stuntman played by Ryan Gosling. After a break due to a famous actor’s mysterious vanishing, Colt stages a comeback. Yet, as the mystery deepens, he gets entangled in danger and deception. This leads to challenges surpassing any stunt he’s encountered, while working with his ex-girlfriend Jody, played by Emily Blunt, on her new film.

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From classic romance to modern comedy: How romantic comedies have transformed over time

1930s to 1950s: The golden age

The golden age of Hollywood saw the romantic comedy genre flourish with screwball comedies like It Happened One Night (1934). This era introduced a battle-of-the-sexes narrative, where witty dialogue and improbable situations were the norms. Movies during this time reflected the economic and social conditions of the Depression era, often showcasing characters from different social backgrounds falling in love.

1960s to 1980s: Expansion and experimentation

As society underwent significant changes, so did cinema, including romantic comedies. The genre began incorporating elements of drama, exemplified by films like The Graduate (1967), which also reflected the generational conflicts of the time. The 1980s saw an infusion of high-concept films where romantic comedies were often blended with fantasy elements, such as Splash (1984), introducing broader appeal and variety.

1990s to 2000s: Peak popularity and diversification

This period can be considered the renaissance of the romantic comedy, with classics like When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Notting Hill (1999). During these decades, rom-coms explored various themes, including friendship turning into love, the impact of fate, and the clash of cultures. Additionally, technology began to play a role, with email playing a central part in You’ve Got Mail (1998).

The impact of technology, societal changes, & inclusion

The advent of social media and smartphones has also transformed the landscape of romantic comedies. Modern rom-coms often incorporate online dating, social media mishaps, and long-distance relationships maintained through technology. These elements are used to create conflict, humor, and a connection with tech-savvy audiences.

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The new millennium brought a significant shift towards inclusivity and diversity within the genre. Romantic comedies started to feature LGBTQ+ characters in leading roles, reflecting a broader societal acceptance of diverse sexual orientations. Movies like The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Love, Simon (2018) are notable examples.

Modern rom-coms: Adapting to contemporary audiences

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) stands as a beacon of modern rom-coms, successfully blending traditional romantic comedy elements with contemporary themes. Boasting a predominantly Asian cast, it addresses the complexities of cultural identity, class differences, and familial expectations, garnering appeal across a wide range of audiences. The film utilizes vibrant visuals, a dynamic soundtrack, and a compelling narrative to engage viewers, while also breaking ground by focusing on an Asian narrative in a predominantly Western genre.

So what kind of rom-com is The Fall Guy?

Colt and Jody’s relationship in The Fall Guy weaves a tapestry of complexities and eccentricities, a testament to the evolving nature of romantic comedies. At its core, theirs is complicated; Jody’s unique blend of intelligence, talent, and a hint of sadism brings an unpredictability that makes their interactions far from mundane. Colt, the determined lover, transcends professional boundaries and past complications to reignite their love. Their dynamic challenges the traditional rom-com by intertwining roles — Jody as director and Colt as stuntman — with their personal history, creating a meta-commentary on the genre.

Despite the trope of keeping things professional, their undeniable chemistry disrupts this facade, reflecting a modern twist on the idea that love cannot be confined by societal or occupational constraints. This relationship challenges the typical rom-com by featuring a couple navigating work dynamics, exes, and a second shot at love with humor and adventure. It blends traditional romantic gestures with a self-aware, realistic approach to contemporary life, including impulsive choices that lead to beach escapades and spicy margaritas. Colt and Jody’s bond captures the essence of rom-coms, blending familiarity with innovation.

Be sure to catch The Fall Guy when it lands in theaters on May 4, 2024!

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Ben Ahrens_Author Headshot 2Ben Ahrens is a versatile Silicon Valley-based writer, content marketer, photographer, and graphic designer. His passion lies in crafting engaging stories for the entertainment industry and embracing the tech culture of the Bay Area to uncover the next ground-breaking innovations. When not weaving words, you’ll find him curating the perfect playlist for every occasion or exploring the diverse landscapes of Northern California.

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