My Photo


Stats & Etc.

  • All written content (c) 2005-2021 Billy Mernit, all rights reserved.

« Just Don't Say This... | Main | Rom-Com Truisms # 2 »



Hmmm. Very interesting article... But how do you create this stuff that perfectly completes the romantic puzzle? Is there a section in your book that explains this? Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston's characters were written pretty much the same, so I guess their humor were similar...but how do they complete each other?

Also, is it possible for most of the interaction between the romantic leads to be in the second act? where they are both introduced in act 1, but don't actually interact that much until act 2?


Eric: There is a section in the book, in the chapter on "Character Chemistry" that speaks to this idea. The 'completion' idea in this movie, as I understand it, is that these two people are always honest with each other, telling each other the truths that they won't share with anyone else; in a sense, Jen's character 'makes an honest man' out of Adam's, and forces him to grow up a bit (i.e. he'll be with a woman who's closer to his age and sensibilities).

Many rom-coms have characters who don't interact much until Act 2; famously, ROMANCING THE STONE doesn't even introduce The Guy until the end of the first act, and in a number of rom-coms, the first act sets up the two leads, saving their real relationship development for the second two-thirds of the movie. But the first act setups do give us a sense of why these two people will make a good match (the extreme version of this idea can be seen in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, where the entire movie attempts to credibly set up why they're meant to be together in the end).


Are you unretired?

I... sort of enjoyed Just Go With It. Sandler and Aniston certainly had more chemistry than No Strings Attached, which didn't work until the second half.

It's easier if you're able to ignore the absurdity of a habitual loner falling in love in one night and wanting to marry a girl in one... week? At the most? While flying everyone to Hawaii? (So glad this movie spoke to our decadent hearts instead of our sobering economy, the plastic surgeon who could spend 20K per night on hotel rooms!)

But the biggest turn off was how mean his character could be. What woman, especially one so angelic as Decker's character is supposed to be, would stick around a man who said such awful things to his wife and cruel to his children? And how are WE supposed to root for this guy?!

My favorite moment of the film was when Sandler taught the kid how to swim. I was infuriated thinking he would ignore that obvious need. And when it happened I was overjoyed!

Maybe the real issue with the movie is that it was too long. Their chemistry was too strong and all the extra set pieces to keep Sandler from realizing the blatantly obvious became like too much icing on the cake, leaving me with a bit of a tummy ache.

E.C. Henry

Like you, Billy, I thought "Just Go With It" was funny. I thought the romantic twart, Palmer (Brokin Decker) was very very poor. Very unbelievable. AND she kinda reminded me of the Predator monster too! I also thought Danny's willingness to pay for everyone's good time in Hawaii was a little over the top too.

Still, good to see ya posting again. Hope this will become a regular thing for the rest of 2011.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


Yeah, we all read with some interest about the romcoms, but we show up for Mernit wisdom! I liked it that Chris slipped that question in right off the bat; it is always on my mind.

Would never have thought of going to see Just Go With It. Sandler and Aniston? Whowuddathunkit? But now I'll give it a chance. As for the unPCness of it, found myself laughing my socks off at Raising Hope, on the one occasion the TV was running while it was on. Laughter, even guilty laughter, just feels so good.


Chris: I feel your tummy ache pain. Hope I got across that I'm NOT a Sandler fan, and enjoyed what I did, in this pic, under psychic duress. Agree with you on all points, and I too loved the swimming lesson beat, which I would submit is the real midpoint linchpin of the movie - it's when Jen finally looks at Adam with real gratitude/appreciation, i.e. what turns into romantic love. That one big beat tries to excuse a multitude of sins! As for your first question, see my response to Patty, below.

EC: Yes, wouldn't we all like to (be able to) have Adam's all-expenses-paid largesse? It's a preposterous plot point, which I guess is supposed to buttress the "I'd do anything to marry this Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model!" idea, despite, as you point out, the lack of appeal in Brooklyn's character...

Hi Patty: Guilty laughter, indeed. Please don't hurt me if you hate this movie, as I'm already beating myself up for liking parts of it.

Meanwhile, re: yours and Chris's question, here's what I'm up to - I've decided to return to the blog in a casual way, i.e. do maybe a couple of posts a month, and specifically, I like the idea of a "Truisms" series - short posts that speak to specific rom-com writing issues. So there we are, and thank you all for checking in to read me!


By the way, what are the chances of a sequel to Writing the Rom Com? The romantic comedies have taken quite a unique turn and would be curious to see how a Tootsie/Lady Eve like analysis would look on such hits as Wedding Crashers, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Love Actually.

As for the movie, it's funny how I agree with almost everyone's point here by everyone despite the varying views... one thing that struck me was the credibility factor of Sandler as the plastic surgeon... He was basically making fun of his patients' plight (eye brows and other body parts), which I found pretty unprofessional. I found it interesting they didn't demonize the Bellamy (?) character in Brooklyn by giving her a stupid laugh or some evil streak. In fact, she was kind of too good for him. A sweet kind hearted school teacher who comes out of the water like Ursula Andress and loves kids. Where do I sign up?!


I think back to Aniston's last romcom The Switch. They didn't really have a scene that went into the mechanics of their friendship/relationship at the beginning; that first scene between them was her saying she was going to get artificially inseminated just to move the plot forward. So that was an interesting analysis of the first scene between Sandler and Aniston.


I'm glad you're back! And recovering from the psychic duress inflicted from watching Just Go With It.

We're all looking forward to whatever truisms you have to offer.


Eric: Where do I sign up, indeed. Meanwhile - my agent has approached Harper Collins twice already, attempting to set up a "revised/ updated" edition, which I'd be happy to write; the irony is, the first one is still selling, so they refuse to finance a new edition... A "sequel," on the other hand, is something I'm considering - we'll see.

ASFan: Yup, THE SWITCH didn't really work. She's been making choices for vehicles that haven't clicked - so it's kind of a relief to see her doing what she does best, in a half-decent pic like this...

Thank you, Chris - I'm hoping to continue being truistic in the weeks ahead.


According to analysis at , the couple start polarised and then merge. Which is really waht you're talking about.


Jim: Well, no. That's not "really" what I'm talking about at all.

I mean, sure, in a simplistic, reductive, obvious and non-instructive sense, of course the couple "starts polarized" and then "merges." But that's a bit like saying "the hero's status quo is upset, and ultimately it gets restored." Which is saying very little about the specific craft issues involved in a particular genre.

Actually, I'm saying the opposite: that in writing romantic comedies (specifically) screenwriters often put too much emphasis on "polarizing" their protagonists, and don't put the necessary inventive energy into establishing what it is that will make them "merge," in a way that satisfies the audience.

And now I'll try to put the hammer down, as I don't mean to offend you, personally, Jim - it's just that you've hit a nerve; it's your site's kind of one-size-fits-all, ideological approach to screenwriting that drives me crazy, since as someone who's been intimately involved in the development of movies that get made, for some 25 years of working in the industry, I can report to you that the whole "hero's journey" theory doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with what makes particular movies work, and too often results in cookie-cutter approaches to writing that makes scripts go fatally wrong.

But thanks for weighing in!


I checked in today to see if you had any comments about last night's Oscars; what a pleasant surprise to see that you're (kinda) back! I'll be checking in more often now. Your blog was always one of my favorite reads.


I have to ask considering your expertise on romantic comedies and chemistry. A lot of the consensus seems to be that the film works best when focusing on the chemistry between Sandler and Aniston, and pretty much doesn't elsewhere. What kind of movie do you think would be a good fit for Sandler and Aniston should they do another movie together (which I'm personally hoping for)?


Binnie! Pleasant to see you here as well, xx B.

ASFan: Great question, and I don't have a great answer, but it feels as though it would be a more "mature" rom-com, i.e. not featuring one of Sandler's more typical boy-man roles, because Jen seems to bring out the "Oh, grow up!" in him. Actually, I could see a marital, or second time around sort of story, where they're brought back together after having broken up in the past.


I think if anything, someone should call Judd Apatow to write and direct something for them after he does his Knocked Up spinoff. Perhaps a bit sooner before they start to look too old for something like that.


Actually, Sandler already did one where he was broken up with someone then brought back together, in Funny People, the subplot with Leslie Mann.

Rachel Hauck

Brilliant as usual!


ASFan: Yes, and Apatow is unlikely to work with Sandler (and vice versa) too quickly after their mutual disappointment in the under-performance of FUNNY PEOPLE.

Thank you, Rachel! Good to hear from you.


Funny People was different for the both of them and I think they knew that. Maybe if they did something simpler, perhaps tonally similar to Knocked Up, then it could work. Sandler and Apatow were roommates 20 years ago, they go back as far as Sandler and Aniston do, so maybe they'd be open to it.

I mean I don't think we'd want a repeat a la Sandler and Barrymore.


Also, I was just wondering, would you consider most of Sandler's movies romantic comedies?

Excluding his more serious stuff, I would only count The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates, and Just Go With It as his only real romantic comedies. And then Mr. Deeds and Anger Management seem to be semi-romcoms and the rest seem to have love interest angles that have little to no bearing on the actual plot.


ASFan: I think your assessment is spot-on, in terms of which pics are really rom-coms and which ones are not. Though I'd add PUNCH DRUNK LOVE to the rom-com list (my personal favorite Sandler movie, which one could also fairly classify as a "romantic dramedy" but seems more black comedy/rom-com to me).


I wanted to ask because I've gone to see Sandler's films for a while, even though they've dipped in quality in recent years, though Just Go With It is the most I've enjoyed Sandler since The Longest Yard. And all these snobby film blogger critics were all annoyingly groaning when this was first announced saying "Ugh, another Adam Sandler romcom, and it's with Jennifer Aniston this time, double ugh" and I was like "Sandler's only done a few romcoms", so it annoyed me that those bloggers weren't gonna give it a fair shake from the get, which they obviously didn't.

But going back to Apatow, Apatow said before Funny People was released that he would only be able to make that kind of film once, so I'd imagine, if Apatow and Sandler did another movie together, that it would be a simpler movie that focuses more on the comedy.

Rob in L.A.

mernitman: I think that one reason why the there is so much going on in the first scene of Danny and Katherine together in JGWI is because it's a substitute cute-meet. We don't see Danny and Katherine meet for the first time, so their opening scene together had to make up for the pleasure that rom-com viewers get from the cute-meet.

This reminds me that some of the great rom-coms don't have cute-meets. In "The Apartment," the cute-meet is substituted with the gag of Fran knowing everyone's name on the elevator and her rapport with Bud. And you discuss "Annie Hall's" substitute cute-meet in your book.

Maybe the substitute cute-meet is something that you can write more about (unless you already have, and I just haven't seen the piece). If we don't see a rom-com's two leads meet, what would the movie need to do to make up for this?

JGWI made up for it by having Katherine play Heckle to Danny's Jeckle in their first scene together. What might some other approaches be?


There's the reuniting with an old friend storyline, but the reunion feels more like a standard meet cute than substitute.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Billy's Books

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2005