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Oh, I'm SOOOOOO glad you wrote about this piece-of-crap movie! I saw a screening a few weeks ago and had been looking forward to it, because as an over-40 (watch it, Mernit) woman (just like Emma Thompson!) who is head-over-heels in love with a former jingle composer (just like Dustin Hoffman!) and who is now involved with said composer in a long-distance relationship, I thought, oh, how wonderful, this movie is about us. Oh. My. God. NO. Such fine actors, and such bad writing! I don't know that anyone could ever do the over-40 thing as well as Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give. And by the way, WHY is there a scene with the trying-on of the dresses? WHO CARES??? Okay, I'm done.

E.C. Henry

Sounds like Joel Hopkins didn't read your book, "Writing the Romantic Comedy." What'z up whit dat?

Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson ARE draws. LOVED Emma Thompson in "Stranger Than Fiction," and Dustin Hoffman is brilliant in EVERYTHING he does.

Got a real cool idea for a rom-com staring post-40 actors/actresses, I call it, "Lecture Circuit: 101 Routes to the Gates of Hell" It's about a man giving seminars on a lecture circuit whose wife has just filed for divorce. The man then finds out his wife is having a steamy afair with a fellow lecturer on this cirucit, whose material is a rival of what this man's peddling day-in and day-out. Our protagonist gets suicidal, and comes close to taking his life at several junctures, but timely run-ins with lady organizer working the circuit keeps him from following through. Then later, as the story goes on, these two find they are romantically drawn to each other. And the prospect of a budding romance just might just be what the doctor ordered to help this man overcome the hell he's going through dealing with his wife, her lover, and the hypocrite/self doubt he deals with on a daily basis.

Another idea that JUST came to me while reading your challange would be entittled, "The Conductor's Notes of Love" THAT would be about a perfectionist conductor (40-late 50s) who falls in love with a younger, girl (30s - mid 40s) who works in the theatre he's performing in. This new love interest comes as a contrast to the hifalutin type women that keep throwing themselves at post-concert parties. But though the theatre worker proves she can hang in the conductors circles, she has an agenda of her own. As we find out, she's merely toying with this older man's attract to her in order to use his contacts, the people in his circle, who may just hold the keys to launching the Broadway career she's secretly desired for YEARS. But could this conductor possibly be weaving the greatest song of his life that's subtly winning the heart of this jaded-by-the-world, scheming, social-climber? Could these opposite side of the track types possible be on the verge of finding their one true love, when approaching the question from so different perspectives?

Speaking of actors/actresses over 40 that you'd love to see more of in the romantic comedy genre, what about Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Catherine Kenner, and Julianne Moore?

Geez Billy, you really now how to post topics that rev my engines!

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Anna from Sweden

One of the projects I'm working on right now is a love story where the two lovers are about 50. The female main character (Eva) is divorced since a long time, and now her daughter is going to get married. The young couple arrange a dinner so their parents get to meet for the first time. But when Eva arrives to the dinner she discovers that the father of her daughter's boyfriend is her own big love from younger days. And the attraction is still there between them both. Eva now has a hard time fixing the wedding (a reminder of her own poor lovelife and aging), and trying to keep up a happy face to everyone - especially the man's wife. Of course after a while she can't resist the man, who wants her desperately, but does she really want him? Or is it just a flash of nostalgic non-realistic dreams? And the young couple, what if they suddenly cancel their wedding? Don't know yet. The director and the producer prefer a happy end, I think I'd rather see a bittersweet one...
Anyway, I think an interesting question when it comes to love over 40-50 is: what's the difference between being calm and pleased with your life as it is (the positive attitude), and having given up your dreams (the negative attitude)?


I'd love to see a complex rom com with leads over 40. We really need more of these -- and SO.MANY people could relate.

Just as long as it doesn't star my parents.

Christian H.

Good post. I would have to say off the top of my head:

A grumpy widower moves into a care facility and falls for the "cougarific" head nurse. Things take a turn for the worse when the man's son becomes her next target.


Binnie, no, but why IS there s trying-on dress scene, or a run to the airport scene fer chrissake, or... don't get me started.

EC: I want to see Catherine Keener in everything. Though I'm apprehensive about her upcoming David O. Russell pic, NAILED, since it sounds -- even for her -- a mite bit, um, wacko.

Anna: You ask the best questions. That "difference" you speak of is so fertile as a place to look for interesting character conflict, because there's actually a lot of gradations between the two positions you posit, and most people are not all one way or the other, but pulled in both directions (in terms of their own and others' perception of who they are) -- a tension that's actually illustrated by your story. Which sounds very intriguing.

j: Fortunately there are more 'rents to choose from.

Christian: Worse or actually better...


While not a comedy, or even a movie I particularly care for, Anthony Hopkins has a good line in The Human Stain: "Granted, she's not my first love. Granted, she's not my great love. But she is sure as hell my last love. Doesn't that count for something?"

I don't know what ages my characters would be - maybe one late forties, the other early fifties? Neither has been married; neither has children. Both have had numerous relationships - some "great loves," some just passing relationships. They're not unfamiliar with one another, but only know each other casually, like two people who live in the same building.

I think what you would call the "cute meet" would be a moment when they are close to one another, but only passingly aware of each other. They both watch a young couple who are clearly very much in love. They're faces (the main characters), however, are completely detached. One of them then says in a deadpan, low key way, "I'm getting tired just watching this."

Okay, maybe a bit cliche ... The point is, neither is interested in a relationship. Both believe it's just too much work. "Been they're, done that." Both like the idea of a friend since both are lonely - their other friends are married, or have children, or whatever. They kind of like their lives, though others might say they have "settled." (I've got too many word and phrases in quotations here!) Their lives, by the way, are very routine, ritualistic.

I think it's pretty obvious where this would go. But I like the idea of people who DON'T want a relationship, and who have that in common, finding that that is what brings them together. And both share a fear of living alone as they get older because, were something to happen, who would be there for them? So they go forward in their friendship, but kicking and screaming to a romantic relationship. People tell them they're a great couple and they keep saying (even believing) they're just friends. And maybe what comes about isn't an earth-shaking, great love but still a love and, "Doesn't that count for something?"

(How the hell would you sell that idea? What would you call it? "This Ain't Casablanca"?)

Blah blah blah ... As I read this over, it doesn't sound quite as good as it did in my head.

Christian H.

It gets worse for our hero. He was a womanizer in need of a comeuppance.

I'd make it my first character arc movie.


Actually, Bill, it sounds pretty good to me. Maybe you just need to overlay another (less character-driven) plot alongside it, and you have a full enough plate for a feature...

Christian: Go for it.

Joanna Farnsworth

What would I write for them? How about a good script? Wrong. I'd write them a good STORY!

Two stories actually. A plot story. And a romance story. Alternating. Juxtaposed. Metphoric. And both based on a single romantic attitude.

Easier said than done? You bet. It's taken me five years just to be able to see it. Let alone do it.

Doing it means you have to construct your story from the attitude. Which is probably why so many current Rom Coms are lacking.

And remember. Romantic ATTITUDE has nothing to do with age. It has to do with the 17-25 year old heart that remains alive and well in all of us. No matter how old we get.

So if your characters are stuck sad sacks in the visual plot - they'll be the exact opposite in their romantic attitude. Or vice versa ...


Billy, in your rom-com book, you discuss how men in the rom-com aren't just out for sex, and women aren't just out for a provider -- in other words, they think they want conventional things, but in the rom-com story they find a partner who meets their soul's needs.

So in midlife, men aren't so driven about sex -- either they've had lots or they're not as horny as when they were younger. And women in midlife tend to be more financially stable than when they were young. It was interesting how in Something's Gotta Give, Harry had plenty of sex and Erica was wealthy and successful -- so they were on a journey of discovering deeper needs for companionship at their time of life.

I think in midlife, companionship and being comfortable with someone become more important. And there's a sense that you don't NEED a partner in an urgent way, like when you were young; but there are deeper needs that you can experience with a partner when you get older that you may not be conscious of yet.

Older (note I didn't say "mature," because I know a lot of "older" people who aren't necessarily mature!) people think they've got it together, but then their needs break through and it can be very suprising and touching. I think SGG tapped into this and it's one reason why the movie had an emotional appeal for a lot of people.

Also, both the characters took a journey before they were ready to really enter into a relationship. Erica faced her aloneness and turned it into art, and Harry realized that he needed to see how he had used women and see what he'd missed (though Harry's process wasn't very authentic and was tied up too neatly, IMO).


Joanna: I like your notion of setting of contradictory impulses within the same character. That's a great way to go.

Welcome SilvieK: Thanks for sharing your insights on SGG, which sound spot on to me. And yup -- my guess is that Nicholson prob'ly had a hand in letting his Harry character off the hook too easily. Feels like a male star thing to do...

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