Here on ONTD, we love our romcoms. Well, at least a good portion does. They have all the common and cheesy tropes that we love and expect. However, some romcoms take things to another problematic level. Let’s take a look at six of them, and yes, I’m aware that there are so many others. This post is so that we can get that conversation going and you’re always welcome to share others you feel should be mentioned and discussed in the comments. :)
The Big Wedding (2013)
Where the fuck do I begin? Brownface, racist dialogue, casting choices, etc. An all-star white cast and nobody said, hey! This seems wrong. British actor Ben Barnes plays Alejandro in brownface, Don (Robert De Niro) and Ellie Griffin’s (Diane Keaton) adopted son from Colombia. He has two siblings Jared (Topher Grace) and Lyla (Katherine Heigl). Alejandro is engaged to Missy (Amanda Seyfried) and her Southern-born parents are less-than-thrilled about their daughter marrying a brown guy and their future “half-beige” grandchildren – as described by Katherine Heigl’s character.
There’s a problem however, his strict catholic birth mother (Patricia Rae) from Colombia doesn’t know his adoptive parents are now divorced and she wants to attend the wedding. Alejandro thinks it’s best to lie to her and have his parents pretend to still be married as to not cause problems with him and his birth mom. The entire film is a mess from beginning to end.
The Switch (2010)
A man named Wally (Jason Bateman) hijacks his best friend’s (Jennifer Aniston) pregnancy by dumping a donors (Patrick Wilson) sperm in the sink and replaces it with his own while completely plastered. He forgets he did it and 7 years later when he meets his son Sebastian, he realizes what he did years ago.
Kassie (Aniston) begins to see Roland (Patrick Wilson) years later, he’s now divorced from his wife after she cheated on him. He wants to get to know his son and soon begins developing feelings for Kassie. He then decides to propose to her, but Wally stops the proposal and tells Kassie the truth. She slaps him, then tells him she never wants to see him again. Some time passes, she waits for him outside his building to tell him that she’s thought about it, Sebastian misses him, and that she dumped Roland because he wasn’t him. They kiss and all is forgiven.
What Women Want (2000)
A film about a misogynistic man named Nick (Mel Gibson) who could sell snow to a snowman and loves to seduce women. He expects to get a promotion at work, but instead his co-worker Darcy (Helen Hunt) gets it. She then asks everyone in the office to test a couple of new feminine products at home. While doing this, Nick falls into his bathtub while holding an electric hairdryer and shocks himself. The following morning he realizes he can hear women’s thoughts.
He uses this to his advantage and steals Darcy’s ideas and passes them off as his own, ultimately getting her fired. He regrets his actions and tells his boss that those ideas were actually her ideas. She’s rehired. After Nick saves a co-worker who contemplated suicide and repairing his relationship with his daughter, he loses his ability in a thunderstorm. Nick then confesses everything to Darcy and she immediately fires him. But later she forgives him, they kiss and get together. Fin.
Never Been Kissed (1999)
Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a journalist who goes back to high school to research an undercover story. She then begins to develop feelings for Sam (Michael Vartan)...her high school teacher. A romantic relationship between the two begin and as far as he knows, she’s underage and you know...his student. On top of that, when Josie is asked to prom by a teenage classmate, she agrees to go. Sam struggles with his feelings because, you know, she’s his student.
During the prom, she confesses everything and Sam feels betrayed. She writes a story about her entire experience and admits that she has never been kissed. The town is moved by it. In that same story, she writes that she will stand in the middle of the baseball field and wait for Sam. Just when it looks like he won’t show up, he appears and the audience in the baseball field cheer as he kisses her. True problematic love.
A rich heiress named Joanna (Goldie Hawn) falls off a boat and gets amnesia. Dean (Kurt Russell), a carpenter she once stiffed on a job on her yacht, sees the story on the news and goes to the hospital to tell her that her name is Annie and that she is his wife. He then uses this as a way to get back at her. He practically enslaves her, making her cook & clean the house and take care of his four boys who make her life hell. Dean slowly begins to fall in love with her and doesn't tell her the truth about her real identity fearing she will leave him. So romantic. She also begins to develop feelings for him and begins to care for his boys.
Her real husband traces her and when she sees him she remembers everything and her memory is restored. Naturally, Joanne is outraged, hurt, and upset that Dean lied and manipulated her, all for revenge. She then leaves and returns with her real husband, Grant, back to their yacht but after a short time realizes her old life is pretentious and boring. She commands that they turn back around and tells her husband Grant she no longer loves him. She forgives Dean and he asks her what he could possibly give her in return. She looks at his four boys and responds saying, “a little girl.” Awwww.
Overboard (2018), a remake starring Eugenio Derbez and Anna Faris was released last year where the roles were swapped. Anna’s character instead lies and manipulates Eugenio’s character.
Shallow Hal (2001)
I mean, the title says it all. Hal (Jack Black) is superficial and is only attracted to women who are slim, petite, and conventionally attractive thanks to his father. He gets stuck in an elevator with life coach Tony Robbins, who hypnotizes him to see women for their inner beauty and not their physical beauty. He shortly meets Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow), the daughter of his boss at work. She’s obese but he only sees a slim and beautiful Rosemary. His best friend (Jason Alexander) is concerned in his sudden change in taste of women, and gets Robbins to break the hypnosis.
Hal then starts to ignore and avoid Rosemary entirely, breaking her heart. After another women notices how much Hal has changed and is no longer shallow, she wants to be with him. But Hal realizes that he loves Rosemary despite everything. She forgives him and during their reconciliation, he tries to carry her to the car but he is unable to so she instead carries him. Fin.
ONTD, which other problematic romcoms are worth mentioning?
Sources: Me & 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6