Of all the movie formulas in Hollywood today, the romantic comedy genre must be the absolute worst. It’s now at the point where not only is the ending of a film predictable, but you can guess with utter certainty what will happen at the end through the entirety of the movie. A Good Year features a cast, setting and story that is so formulaic as to be not only predictable, but agonizingly superficial and worthless. As such, the Vanguard invites you to read the first page from a new “cookbook” entitled Hollywood: The Public Are Idiots (Why selling the same movie over and over again works!).
Part 1: The Male Lead
The main male lead must have two qualities: he needs to be good-looking and he has to be “fixable.” In the case of A Good Year, Russell Crowe fills the part nicely. His character, Max Skinner, is a workaholic stockbroker with a bit of an asshole streak. He’s a successful womanizer who seemingly “can’t settle down” until the right kind of woman comes along (see The Fiery Female, below).
Part 2: The Setting
True love doesn’t blossom in just any old place; it really needs ?” nay, requires ?” a different setting. A Good Year provides this new setting when Max Skinner finds out that his long-lost uncle leaves him the uncle’s winemaking chateau in France. Intent on selling the property as soon as possible, Max somehow ends up staying longer than expected –
Part 3: The Fiery Female
This character is always a classic beauty. She has been heartbroken in the past and always lets her sass shine through. She is usually a small business owner of some sort (’cause she’s self-reliant and don’t want no man). The Fiery Female and the Male Lead always meet in a very specific way: the Male Lead must do something to piss the Fiery Female off, and when she responds with anger, he falls in love with her “passion.” Throughout the movie the Fiery Female will slowly let her guard down, eventually letting in the gruff and assholish male (but only after he shows a little bit of his sensitive side).
Part 4: The Problem (and the Solution)
Life isn’t perfect, and people who write movies realize this. To correct for what I call the “reality dilemma,” writers insert setbacks that are easily solved and heartbreakingly simple. Every romantic comedy has to have a problem come up about three-quarters of the way through. In A Good Year, the problem is fairly simple: Max Skinner’s life is in London, and he doesn’t want to give it up. Even worse, he was just offered a promotion. Oh my, the choices we must make! Invariably the Male Lead “goes with his heart” and by the end of the film, True Love is found (and maybe even a Litter of Kids).
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to make a successfully shitty romantic comedy. In fact, a retarded walrus without arms could write a screenplay that has more meaning behind it than A Good Year. But that’s okay, because people like these type of movies, or so the story goes. As long as we’re all buying, we’re all dying.