Movie Cliche Encyclopedia: The Lady/Lad in Waiting
This is the first in a new series of posts I’m going to call Movie Cliche Encyclopedia. I’ll take a common Hollywood cliche, define it, and then list and describe three movies that demonstrate the cliche with varying degress of success.
Definition: The origins/meaning of said cliche
Bullseye: A film that effectively and entertainingly demonstrates the cliche
Left of Center: A film that demonstrates the cliche, but has a few endearing flaws
Disqualified: A film that gives the cliche a bad name
“The Lady/Lad in Waiting”
Definition: When, in a romantic comedy, the male or female protagonist experiences pratfalls, bad dates, and otherwise humiliating escapades with a series of potential suitors before finally realizing in the last twenty minutes of the film that his/her one true love is his/her best friend, an epiphany which has been obvious to both the audience and every other character in the film all along.
Bullseye: When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Rob Reiner’s classic film is the seminal example of how difficult it can be to recognize true love. Both Harry and Sally spend the film wittily bantering, cavorting through an idealized New York, and otherwise enjoying the perfect friendship. In the end, they realize that your soulmate is the only person you can’t stand to be apart from; the one who calls your annoying habits “eccentricities”. Oh, and they are the one who will watch Casablanca with you in the wee hours of the morning and re-assure you that you do not have a tumor.
Left of Center: Some Kind of Wonderful (1987):
In this charming teen comedy, artist and loner Keith is trying to survive high school, as well as his crush on popular and out-of-reach fellow red-head Amanda Jones. Meanwhile, his soul-mate is his best friend the tomboy musician Watts, who patiently waits until the closing song plays to finally get her man. The only problem here lies in the weak hero. Keith isn’t exactly the brightest bulb. He can’t stand up to his family, he doesn’t give his best friend the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her unfailingly accurate advice, and he is willing to give up his future for a pair of long legs. He comes around in the end, but if I were Watts, I’d make him run through a few hoops first before settling in for the long haul…
Disqualified: Someone Like You (2000)
Based on a vapid chick lit novel, this vapid movie suffers mostly from bad casting and an even worse script. budding television producer Jane (Ashley Judd) is offered two suitors: the boring, evasive and wishy-washy Ray (Greg Kinnear) or her best male friend and roomate, the womanizing, handsome but vain Eddie (Hugh Jackman). Neither character is exactly a keeper. Judd can’t play comedy well with her low, serious voice and disconnect to the horrible script. Jackman spends the first half of the movie with a cigarette dangling from his lips, trying to look like a suave and debonair ladies’ man, but he tries so hard that he ends up looking more like he wants to make a coat out of the skins of his hapless string of conquests, a la Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. It’s a miss.
Next on Movie Cliche Encyclopedia: The Red Herring Syndrome…