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Rob in L.A.

With everyone's indulgence, I'd like to say something about why I don't think of the aforementioned "Her" as a rom-com. We all (ought to) know that rom-coms don't need to be laugh-out-loud funny to be comedies. But at the same time, the genre requires a certain cheeriness about it, a least a partial atmosphere of optimism — even if the end is bittersweet — to keep it from becoming a romantic drama.

And as much as I enjoy "Her" (a lot), the atmosphere was downbeat from beginning to end. The foremost question in my mind wasn't, "Will they become a couple?" It was "How badly will this end?" The only real comic relief is the trash-talking video-game avatar.

Of course, I'm not saying that rom-coms can't have downcast moments, but I don't think they should outweigh the upbeat with a constant air of gloom and doom. I think that "Her" touches on some of the tropes of the rom-com in an ironic way (Theodore swinging the phone around, etc.) but never becomes a rom-com itself (similar to what "Under the Tuscan Sun" does in a different way).

But still, I think that this blog is an excellent forum to discuss the genre-busting "Her."


Rob: Well, maybe we can call it a "genre-buster" and leave it at that. I see your point that the movie may be more downbeat than upbeat... yet in my own experience of viewing it, I was amused from the first sequence onward (i.e. I even found Theodore's job to be a wryly funny send-up of what may become of "personal" in our social network culture); I smiled, chuckled, and laughed often enough throughout what followed, to perceive the movie as comedy, and then ultimately, as dramedy. So in my head, it remains a rom-com hybrid, i.e. a romantic comedy that's simultaneously a sci-fi drama, etc.

Meanwhile, "genre-buster" is great shorthand for such ambivalent classification, so I'll use that term from now on when I'm discussing it - thanks!

E.C. Henry

Hey Billy, curious if you have inside information on Charlie Kaufman. Seems like we don't hear much about him anymore. IMBD sites he has one movie filming now, "Amomalisa", a low budget movie that Charlie is credited as a wirter and co-director, and 4 other projects in delelovment, one of which a TV movie in pre-production staring Micheal Cera and Catherine Keener. Seams like this guy has fallen off the map, last I remember hearing about him was some trouble he was having with a movie that he was trying to set up called, "Frank or Francis".

Sure would be great to get his great mind back on track, any idea what's going on with Charlie Kaufman these days?

Rob in L.A.

Actually, I think that this raises some intriguing questions: Am I wrong, and is the "rom-com" label elastic enough to include a movie as downbeat as I perceive "Her" to be? Is there a point at which a would-be rom-com stops being humorous (however one defines that word) and is better described as a drama? Stuff to chew on.

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