Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Reservations: A Different Romantic Comedy

The 2007 movie No Reservations is filed away in the genre of romantic comedy. However, it is not all-around your typical “fall in love, live happily ever after movie”, as its bigger issue revolves around a chef who takes the responsibility of caring for her sister’s daughter after she dies. The movie focuses on this theme, but of course romance eventually surfaces. Despite tending to deviate from the expectations of a romantic comedy, the movie does meet many of them. For example, the two people (who eventually fall in love) are complete opposites and dislike each other, which ultimately sparks the romance. In this film Kate is an uptight chef who is not willing to change her style of cooking or let down her guard. Contrastingly her eventual lover Nick is free spirited, energetic and the only person able to connect to Kate’s niece Zoe. In several scenes of the movie Nick and Kate argue. Their opposition echoes romantic comedy and the audience can predict that they will soon fall in love. Also, in romantic comedies the extent of the couple’s love is usually not expressed, until one has to move half way across the world or a huge fight prevails. In No Reservations, Nick is offered Kate’s head chef job which fuels an argument begin the two. Kate believes Nick steals her job and because of this accusation he quits. Later Nick tells Kate he is taking a job in San Francisco. Despite Kate’s usual uptightness, days later she quits her job running to find Nick and tell him that she loves him. This scenario is typical of a romantic comedy and one of the most obvious expectations met.

Although there are ways No Reservations meets genre expectations, there are also ways it does not. For example, the romance of Nick and Kate is not really the central theme of the movie. It is more about Zoe and Kate being able to move past the death of their shared love one while starting a new life together. The character Zoe overall makes the film more unique to its genre. In addition, most romantic comedies exes return to cause trouble, but that is not found in this movie. Finally, the plot is very different from a typical romantic comedy. It does have the same cheesy plot and this is mainly because of Zoe and what she represents in the movie. Most romantic comedies do not begin with someone dying and changing the entire course of a person’s life. Instead this is usually found in the drama genre.

According to Daniel Chandler, “it is seldom hard to find texts which are exceptions to any given definition of a particular genre” (Chandler 3). In 2009 this is very true as most romantic comedies are usually the same and as an audience member we already know what to expect. However, No Reservations supplies a twist and a deeper meaning for the audience to unfold. He goes on to say that, “contemporary theorists tend to describe genres in terms of ‘family resemblances’ among texts rather than definitionally” (Chandler 4). I believe this is why so many romantic comedies are popular. For some reason we enjoy movies that contain the same patterns and follow the same conventions.

1 comment:

  1. Good analysis. Two things would help. First, it would be great if you could explain where your ideas for the 'typical' romantic comedy come from. I think you're right on, but the reader would certainly benefit from being given examples from other works that follow these patterns. Secondly, it would be far better if you concentrated at the end on the 'twist' and the differences here. For example, isn't it unusual that the female character is driven, career oriented, etc.? Would that have been possible in a romantic comedy fifty years ago?