Gyllenhaal and Hathaway - so young, so obnoxiousLast August, The New York Times' op-ed columnist, Maureen Dowd, wrote a misguided column called "Tragedy of Comedy," in which she and someone named Sam Wasson jawed glibly about the lowly state of the romcom. For some bizarrer reason, the decided to be bullies and lay the blame at the feet of the two Jennifers - Garner and Aniston.
Little did they know, they hadn't seen anything yet. Their tear-stained duet was about six months premature. Aniston's "The Switch," which is actually saavy, alert fun, now seems like a masterwork of restraint compared to the last three romantic disasters of the year.
First, there was Edward Zwick's rudely disjointed "Love and Other Drugs," which purported to be a romcom but wasn't and which has the distinction of turning two previously very companionable screen presences - Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway - into toxic annoyances. To describe both of them in this film as "obnoxious" would be wildly charitable.
Then came Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Tourist" gleefully devoured by Glenn Kenny in a now-classic pan for MSN Movies. Watching this alleged film, it is difficult to believe that either Johnny Depp with his ugly facial hair and Angelina Jolie with her spindly arms are major movie stars. They come off more like poseurs - he thinking that he's still playing a pirate and she under the delusion that she's Elizabeth Taylor's successor.
Last and certainly least, there's James L. Brooks' "How Do You Know," a strangely pointless film with Reese Witherspoon applying her usual steamrolling charm and trying her darndest to do smart, ping-pong-style repartee with Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd. And failing.
This film is so hopeless that even the peerless Wilson is no fun. Jack Nicholson, meanwhile, looking well-fed and umcomfortable, practically phones in his performance (or maybe had an assistant do it for him). Only Rudd comes through unscathed. But he survives all alone.
Aside from their shared awfulness, these three have one other thing in common. Each of their so-called romantic couples come sans chemistry.