Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook


This movie breaks down fairly simply into the Hopeless Romantic versus Cynic dichotomy. Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, is the hopeless romantic, trying to overcome his bipolar disorder in order to win back his estranged wife. Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is the cynic who was recently widowed and is trying to overcome her current sex addiction.

Personally, I like Pat’s character – he has no filter between his brain and his mouth – saying whatever comes to mind. (He actually reminds me of Larry David’s character from Curb Your Enthusiasm.) When Pat first meets Tiffany, she’s not immediately put off by this too-honest, in-your-face conversation. They are able to overcome their usual difficulties relating to people and start to spend time together.

Their relationship works because it started off as a friendship and didn’t automatically devolve into a mutual dependency – which would be very easy for these two characters to do. (I’m looking at you, main characters of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) Instead, they leverage their friendship to help each other – Pat eventually agreeing to train and compete in a couple’s dance competition with Tiffany if she helps deliver a letter to Pat’s estranged wife. (In fact, the plot reminds me a lot of The Cutting Edge.)

As Pat and Tiffany practice together, they become emotionally committed to the competition, and to each other. It takes a bit of time for Pat to realize this, though, still being hung up on his estranged wife and all. But he eventually figures things out. And there’s a bit of drama at the end involving some lying, but the silver lining shines through. “You let me lie to you for a week!?” “I was trying to be romantic.”

All in all, Hopeful Romantic Approved.

4 out of 5 Hopeful Hearts

Movie Review – Sabrina (1954)


For the next Hopeful Romantic movie review, I reach back to the 1954 version of Sabrina. It stars Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina, and Humphrey Bogart and William Holden as the well-to-do brothers Linus and David Larrabee. I certainly hope everyone has seen this movie, but if not, please stop reading and go out and rent or buy it immediately, as I will include many spoilers in my review.

Sabrina is the daughter of Linus’s chauffeur and grew up around the Larrabees, falling in love with David along the way. David is somewhat of a playboy, falling in and out of love with every girl that comes along – and has had three failed marriages to boot! Sabrina witnesses David from afar, and fantasizes about being one of those girls that David falls for. In this respect, Sabrina is very much a hopeless romantic  – she has fallen in love with David in a completely one-sided affair.

After realizing that David won’t give her any romantic attention, Sabrina runs off to culinary school in Paris. During her exile, she learns a bit about herself and high society, changing her looks and demeanor to someone that can gain the attention of David. She returns, but there is only one problem – David is engaged to someone else.

Not even recognizing Sabrina at first, David picks Sabrina up from the train station to drive her home… his home, in fact. Well, he soon figures out this is the same girl that he grew up around, but how has she changed! So much, in fact, that he now wants to call off his pre-arranged engagement to run off with the chauffeur’s daughter.

Linus, the brains behind the Larrabee empire, is about to see his multi-million dollar deal go out the window if David runs off with Sabrina. So he intervenes, trying to “keep it all in the family”. He entertains Sabrina after he incapacitates his brother, trying to get her to fall in love with him instead. He feigns wanting to get away from the boardroom and to run off to Paris to experience the city. And he convinces Sabrina that he wants her to come with him. And the hopeless romantic that Sabrina is, she falls for him. And just when Linus almost has her convinced of their budding love (and has her booked on a one way ticket back to Paris), Linus drops the truth of his whole charade.

linus and sabrina

For the Hopeful Romantics out there, this seems like an awful lot of deceit, with an extra dose of falling in love too soon. And indeed it is. But there are some shining points in this story.

  1. Sabrina figures out how to gain David’s attention. Simply fawning over him and expressing her one-sided crush isn’t enough. She had to go to Paris and become a whole new person – new clothes, new attitude, new haircut, etc. The lesson here is that if you are attracted to someone (or a certain type of someone), you’ve got to look the part. And Sabrina does that transformation exceptionally well.
  2. A funny thing happened to Sabrina and Linus both. While they were out on the town while David was holed up, they connected. Perhaps a little too quickly for Hopeful Romantics like us, but nonetheless they connected. Sabrina was eager to go to Paris with him and show him around, and Linus was honest enough to admit to his deception. Excitement and honesty are two solid ways to start a relationship.
  3. At the end, David realizes his foolishness and tries to set things right. He doesn’t know if his brother was really faking it with Sabrina, or if Linus fell for her too. So he eggs Linus on, essentially calling Sabrina a gold digger. Boom! Linus punches David right in the kisser. At that point, Linus realizes how much he likes (loves?) Sabrina and runs off to catch her on the boat to Paris.
    Sometimes, even Hopeful Romantics need friends and family to help us realize how we truly feel about someone or what we should do in a given situation. And it is our responsibility as Hopeful Romantics to help out our friends and family when they need a little encouragement to head down the right path with (or without) someone.

So the moral of the story is, don’t fall in love too soon. And if you do, at least have the good fortune of it being Humphrey Bogart’s character.

Movie Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding


The recent post about the sad state of affairs for romantic comedies got me thinking. A common plot point in some of these movies is when one (or both) of the main characters has a big secret when they start dating. Now, there are good examples of this – 10 Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed both come to mind. And there are many more that fall short of expectations.

Then I tried to think of a movie that had the opposite plot device, where the lead characters were completely honest with each other up front, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding immediately came to mind. In fact, this movie showcases many good, Hopeful Romantic type traits…

The lead female character Toula (played by Nia Vardalos) begins the movie as a hostess working in her family’s Greek restaurant. She is severely relationship-challenged as her family expects her to marry a nice Greek boy. One day, a teacher named Ian Miller (played by John Corbit) is eating with his friend at Toula’s restaurant, and Toula immediately falls for him. But how can a shy, somewhat depressed hostess ever hope to attract someone like Ian?

Well, Toula devises a plan with her mother and aunt to advance her career by going to college, taking some computer classes, and then work in the family-run travel agency. With her life finally starting to improve, who might randomly walk into the store? Ian Miller, of course! They start dating, and Ian wants to take Toula to this great Greek restaurant he’s been to. Rather than lie because she’s too embarrassed, she immediately admits that it is her family’s restaurant and that she used to work there. And guess what… it’s not a big deal. Being honest, especially at the beginning of a relationship, can save plenty of headaches later on.

Their dating progresses quickly, with a little backlash from her father since Ian isn’t a Greek Orthodox Christian, but eventually Ian comes to propose to Toula. And not just propose; because he’s met her family and knows how deeply they are involved in the Greek Orthodox Church, Ian agrees to become baptized so that he and Toula can be married in her Church. What a guy!

All in all, a great flick for the Hopeful Romantic. She realized she wasn’t happy with her life, changed her career path, was able to attract and start dating a great guy, they were honest with each other from the start, and he knew she was the one so much that he got baptized in order to marry her with her family’s blessing.

greek wedding

Guys, would you do this in order to marry the person you loved?

Why Are Romantic Comedies So Bad?

Here’s a good article on why romantic comedies have gotten so bad. Apparently there aren’t enough taboos when it comes to love and relationships anymore.

Why Are Romantic Comedies So Bad? - Christopher Orr - The Atlantic

A few years ago, A. O. Scott of The New York Times suggested that for explanation we need look no further than the names just mentioned and others like them: the downslope from Katharine Hepburn to Katherine Heigl is simply too steep, and “the few remaining stars who show the kind of audacity and charisma that great romantic comedy requires tend to be busy with other things.”

This is certainly true, but it in turn begs the question of why today’s genuine stars (with all due respect to Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey) no longer bother to find the time for romantic comedy. Will Smith, for instance, displayed tremendous chops in Hitch—but apart from that toe-dip, he’s stayed clear of the water. And this generation’s most obvious fit, George Clooney, has modeled his career on that of Cary Grant in almost every way save his profound reticence to explore the genre that made the latter an icon.

No, there’s more at work here than the vagaries of stars or studios. It’s not just them; it’s us.

Among the most fundamental obligations of romantic comedy is that there must be an obstacle to nuptial bliss for the budding couple to overcome. And, put simply, such obstacles are getting harder and harder to come by. They used to lie thick on the ground: parental disapproval, difference in social class, a promise made to another. But society has spent decades busily uprooting any impediment to the marriage of true minds. Love is increasingly presumed—perhaps in Hollywood most of all—to transcend class, profession, faith, age, race, gender, and (on occasion) marital status.

via Why Are Romantic Comedies So Bad? – Christopher Orr – The Atlantic.

Movie Review: High Fidelity


We meet Laura and Rob as they are at the end of their seemingly dead end relationship. Laura recognizes the stagnation and decides to end things. Good for her. The Hopeful Romantic doesn’t wait around hoping things will magically get better someday. When the other person refuses to change/grow, it’s time to get out.

Rob, though, can’t seem to get over Laura. He falls into the Recovery stage, and in trying to figure out what went wrong with Laura, other than being an asshole, he realizes he never figured out why his other previous relationships didn’t work out. So he reaches out to all of his old girlfriends to find out.

And he made some classic mistakes:

·         He broke up with someone because she wouldn’t get physical with him right away, missing an opportunity with her because of it.

·         He went after someone (Charlie) way about his status/looks. “You’ve got to learn to fight your weight” rings true. Don’t shoot too high.

·         After that breakup, he got into a relationship with Sarah, who also just went through a breakup, just so they wouldn’t be alone. This is to be avoided. Follow Rainer Maria Rilke’s advice instead – “We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.”

Once he figured out what an asshole he had been, when Laura needed him back in her life after her dad died, Rob was ready to step up and commit.

In true Hopeful Romantic fashion, she then helps open Rob’s eyes to see how happy he should be as owner of a record store. She encourages him to start DJing again. He even starts his own record label.

And the biggest sign of growth is when he realizes he shouldn’t be making a mix tape for a girl that isn’t Laura.

Rob finally grows up and becomes a Hopeful Romantic.

[images from Music Snobbery with copyright likely belonging to Touchstone Pictures. Used under fair use.] 

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones


About The Hopeful Romantic Movie Reviews – Every Tuesday this blog will be evaluating a Hollywood movie from the perspective of The Hopeful Romantic, assessing the characters and their actions for common pitfalls and positive qualities. This week we evaluate the pivotal relationship in the new Star Wars trilogy.


Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is arguably the worst of the six Star Wars movies. This is precisely because of the awful love story between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala. Besides the whole relationship seeming forced and filled with clichés, we can manage to learn a thing or two from their situation.


First, and the biggest sign that this relationship is doomed, is the fact that Jedi aren’t supposed to pursue anyone romantically. The subtext of this is that it forces Anakin to withdraw from the Jedi Order or for them to keep the relationship secret. They choose the later. Any relationship worth being in is worth making known. If the person you are dating is sneaking you up a back stairwell to get to their room, then you are not the main person they are dating.


In the movie context, Anakin’s main love interest is with the Jedi Order and becoming more powerful. Here is a transaction while on Naboo that should have given Padme reason to be cautious.

Anakin: I don’t think the system works…

Padme: The problem is that people don’t always agree…

Anakin: Well, then they should be made to…

Padme: Sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to me.

Anakin: Well, if it works.

The guy is trying to justify the end of the Republic and you still fall in love with him!?!


The second sign that this relationship would be trouble is the constant whining. Apart from being completely annoying (how could you fall in love with someone like that!), Anakin’s complaints signify serious issues with his father-like figure, Obiwan. Now nobody is perfect, but even in fictional universes I couldn’t imagine a better father figure than Obiwan. These “daddy issues” and his thirst for power boil over in Episode III and he almost kills her.

By and large, this was a dead end relationship from the start, one that definitely should have been avoided at all costs. The only real question is if Palpatine had the foresight to suggest Anakin for the assignment (to protect Senator Amidala) knowing that their love affair would help turn him to the dark side.