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Tenets of the Romantic Comedy

Romantic comedies are an enduring film genre for a number of reasons. They are popular with audiences because they are typically funny, sexy, and romantic. Happy endings are another element of the genre that continues to keep romantic comedies popular with audiences. Romantic comedies are also popular with producers, as successful ones like Pretty Woman and When Harry Met Sally make significant sums of money and are less expensive to produce than big action films or other special effects laden movies. As one film critic offers, "genre can affect the form, structure, style and content of a movie" (Genre, 2008, p. 1). Characters in different genres act and are portrayed in different ways, like women in Westerns typically being good and unattractive or bad and loose. The same is true with the treatment of men and women in romantic comedies, each of whom is sharply defined.

This analysis will explore the various elements of the romantic comedy genre in film, from the early romantic comedies of directors like Preston Sturges to the modern ones by directors like Gary Marshall. From setting and character to gender portrayal and theme, the convention of romantic comedy will be addressed using examples from a number of successful movies in the genre. A conclusion will address why the elements of romantic comedy continue to be popular with audiences and how they help to entertain and enlighten filmgoers due to the conventions of the genre.

As Bennett and Watson (2002) note, "The 'romantic comedies' of Hollywood have repeatedly reused the power of antipathy as a foil for the power of love" (p. 80). In this conventional battle of the sexes, a common theme of the genre unfolds: "Whatever the barrier to the romantic union, the narrative question is 'will they or won't they', or, rather, how will they" (Bennett & Watson, 2002, p. 80). At the end of romantic comedies, we discover that love conquers all barrier...

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Tenets of the Romantic Comedy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:36, March 22, 2019, from