Saw Valentine’s Day (the movie) this past weekend. In a lot of ways it was a predictable romantic comedy. The narrative style is like that of Love, Actually. I imagine there are earlier movies that were more innovative, in terms of the mixed story lines, but that’s the one that pops into mind. (Love, Actually is better, I think. Srsly, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy…it wins based on cast alone.)
Any romance reader would probably be entertained by the counting the typical genre tropes or stereotypes that were used:
- first love and its tribulations
- busy career woman too busy for love
- successful career woman desperate for love who hates 2/14
- player desperate to avoid commitment who hates 2/14
- cheating bastard with wife and girlfriend
- established couple who confront sudden relationship issue
- friends to lovers
Here comes the spoiler part:
The storyline I enjoyed most, and which I TOTALLY did not see coming, was that of Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), the aging quarterback who is wondering about the next step in his professional career and bothered by the absence of his lover, who off-screen for most of the movie and shown only via the second toothbrush in the bathroom. (And presumably, who has left him.) He calls a press conference when he’s cut by his former team in order to announce not that he’s signed elsewhere but that he’s gay. And he’s going to keep playing football, because he’s been playing for years as a gay man and the two things are not mutually exclusive.
His lover? Well, I wasn’t sure we’d see him in the film. There were some threads that were about familial love or friendship rather than romantic love, and some characters who did not necessarily get an HEA. (Queen Latifah’s character, among others, frex.) Plus, I’m still not sure how gay romance friendly mainstream Hollywood studios are, even in the aftermath of Brokeback Mountain. So when a napping Jackson is awakened by a flower stroked across his cheek and the camera pans up the flower to his lover, Holden (Bradley Cooper), I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the women* in the audience were startled enough to gasp or say "No way!" or something of the sort, but it made me grin like a fool.
The axiom is that "art imitates life", but not so much in terms of that small story. I do wonder though, when/if an active NFL player will come out? A few have come out after retiring, but none while playing. But, y’know, if a Welsh rugby player can do it, an American football player may…sooner or later. (I’m guessing later.)
And on a happy note, same sex couples began lining up in DC to get their marriage applications today, even though they can’t be married until next week.
*The theater was peopled by about 50 women…and 2 men. When they first walked in, I wondered if they were in the wrong theater, because I let gender stereotypes about pop culture and romcoms rule my brain. Bad JMC!
Unrelated: saw the trailer for The Runaways. May have to set aside my dislike for Kristen Stewart because Joan Jett is a rockn’roll heroine. Also Sex & the City 2, for which I am not the target audience since I didn’t watch the show or the first movie. And Date Night, which could be funny because of Tina Fey or just awful because all the funny parts have already been shown in the trailer.