Letters to Juliet [Chick Flick Movie Review]

letters-to-juliet-movie-poster

My Score: 65

I’ll watch just about any movie (especially when Dr. Girlfriend is involved), and sometimes, the movie is a chick flick.  In this case, it’s Letters to Juliet, a predictable romantic drama starring Amanda Seyfried, who I maintain is one weird looking chick.  Just look at the poster – she’s all… I don’t know…  looking into the camera like she has the power to make us watch her movie…  or turn us to stone… or both.

Definitely both.

In case the idea of reading about this movie is off putting to you fellas, let me start with some translations that will help you get from “chick flick language” to “reality.”  For example, the title Letters to Juliet just means Don’t Leave Your Fiance Unattended in a European Country.  (For writers, “chick flick” translates to, “The movie doesn’t take any chances.  Ever.”)  That sounds like a rookie mistake, right?  Just imagine you’re with your woman in Italy for a vacation and then decide you need to take a few days’ side trip that will further your business ambitions.  Does that sound like the sort of thing that will end well for you?  Yeah, probably not.  I mean Jesus, hasn’t this character ever seen any movies before?  But again, reality is not king here.

Here, let me have The Simpsons explain it to you:

woman: I don’t understand! First they hate each other and then they love each other!
man: Of course you don’t, you’re a robot.
from “Lisa’s Wedding”

See, when you’re setting up a chick flick romantic drama, you have to hit a few specific story points.  The Simpsons knew it, Hollywood knew it, now YOU know it.  OK, now I’m referencing a different Simpsons episode, but lets move on before I do it again.  So, the story points:

  1. the protagonist is already in a relationship that isn’t as fulfilling as it should be
  2. the protagonist has a career (so she’s independent) that isn’t as fulfilling as it should be
    1. “Maybe that man is holding her back!  You better dump that zero and get yourself a HERO!”
  3. set the story in an exotic location
    1. this is always a good idea for a romantic comedy because even if it really sucks, at least it’ll look pretty
      1. (this movie looks pretty)
  4. the protagonist should meet a handsome, rich man who she instantly hates
  5. the protagonist and the handsome, rich man learn they’re not so different after all
  6. the protagonist and the handsome, rich man learn they love each other, but it’s too late…
  7. the protagonist’s relationship should end as painlessly as possible
  8. OR IS IT TOO LATE?!?
  9. no, it’s not too late
  10. oh wait, yes it is!  SHIT!
  11. oh wait, it wasn’t too late after all!  HAPPY ENDING!

Anyway, “Lisa’s Wedding” wasn’t an attempt at a chick flick, but they hit a few beats because they’re easy jokes and easy plot points.  Let’s take this point by point:

the protagonist is already in a relationship that isn’t as fulfilling as it should be
This gives the protagonist an antagonist of sorts – right away, we see he’s not good enough for her, and we missed the part of their story that the audience wants to see:  them falling in love, so the audience has no use for this guy, so when he’s finally out of there, you’re happy, and the movie pats you on the head.  (The format of chick flicks is like some weird story conditioning.)

the protagonist has a career (so she’s independent) that isn’t as fulfilling as it should be
See, in this movie, the protagonist is a fact checker for a magazine, but she’s really a writer.  This checks off several important boxes:  she has her own career, so she doesn’t need a man.  It also gives her character room to grow and something that can be encouraged (handsome rich guy) or discouraged (original fiance – but it has to be subtle discouragement – he’s too focused on his own shit to realize what a big deal this transition is) as the situation dictates.

“Maybe that man is holding her back!  You better dump that zero and get yourself a HERO!”
OK, OK, calm down, ladies.  We’ll get to that later. But yeah, you get a pat on the head.

set the story in an exotic location
American women love the idea of falling in love in an exotic European country… I don’t know if it’s true or not, but American women have, at this point, been totally conditioned to feel this way.  Movie takes place in Europe?  CHECK MOTHER FUCKING PLUS!  (See Leap Year, When in Rome or any other movie I can tell you the entire plot of without actually watching for more examples of this.)

this is always a good idea for a romantic comedy because even if it really sucks, at least it’ll look pretty
(this movie looks pretty
)
Yeah, check.  Nothing especially stunning about the photography, but it’s professional.  Very nice looking, but nothing interesting.

the protagonist should meet a handsome, rich man who she instantly hates
And the audience should hate him a little, too.  Just enough to identify with the protagonist’s feelings toward him.  Then…

the protagonist and the handsome, rich man learn they’re not so different after all
Oh, now we understand his perspective.  He’s not so bad.  In fact, he’s rich, European and handsome….  That sets the stage for:

the protagonist and the handsome, rich man learn they love each other, but it’s too late…
Yeah, they actually hook up a bit in the grass. In a European Country.  At night.  ROMANTIC FANTASY!  SWISH!  It sounds like a personal ad:  New York professional seeks handsome, wealthy European man for brief kissing in grass in exotic European country.  PS:  Must look good in swimwear.  (The movie worked pretty hard to get an unnecessary shot of Chris Egan in a thankfully, mercifully American styled bathing suit – but then, the European style might be a bit threatening for the ladies.)  Anyway, their time together is over, and she’s engaged, so it’s too late.

the protagonist’s relationship should end as painlessly as possible
How many engagements end with a hug outside of the movies?  Probably none.

OR IS IT TOO LATE?!?
no, it’s not too late

Now that she’s single, the protagonist gets another shot at making it work with Mr. Europe.  I mean Mr. Right.  (Both.)  They meet up at a neutral location, (because otherwise it would be unnatural?) and…

oh wait, yes it is too late!  SHIT!
See, you need some drama in your climax.  Mr. Europe is there, but he’s with another woman!

what, already?
Calm down, it’s a delightful misunderstanding.  Jeez.  I thought you said all you had to say during the points.

I can’t believe he’s with another woman!  This is when the protagonist and Mr. Europe are supposed to get together!
Wait, here it comes…

oh wait, it wasn’t too late after all!  HAPPY ENDING!
Ah, see – she’s his cousin.  It’s a delightful misunderstanding.  See, the protagonist has to reach her lowest point in the story, where she’s now totally alone, but it can’t last for too long, because this is a chick flick, so we can’t ever get too low for too long – so… yeah, about 30 seconds of half crying should do it.  Now the audience has been manipulated into an emotional response, and a sad one… so when you realize it’s a misunderstanding, you can get CROSS MANIPULATED TO A HAPPY EMOTIONAL RESPONSE!  This makes it much easier for the audience to buy a totally unrealistic ending.

(The protagonist actually ends up on a balcony and Mr. Europe climbs up there and takes what he wants instead of dicking around like Romeo did.  Just like he said he would.  Foreshadowing?  That’s really how the movie ends… well, after he falls off the balcony so they can both end up kissing on the grass again.  Just like when they first fell in love!  And people come and watch them make out!   Ah, I love the smell of Europe in the morning!)

Anyway, that’s how this kind of chick flicks go.  Can’t get too high or low, got to hit the beats, and then happy ending.  I like to watch any movie, but in case you fellas don’t and you fall asleep after the first half hour and you get a quiz on what happened in the movie the next morning, here’s what you say:

“I can’t believe she ended up with that guy she hated when they first met.  Totally didn’t see that coming.  And good for her!”

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on July 14, 2012, in movie review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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