Rom-Com Smackdown: The 1990s Versus The 2000s

I used to be a big fan of romantic comedies in the ’90s. But when the 2000s rolled around, they just got embarrassing. Hello, “27 Dresses.” Maybe it was because I had grown up by that point and so had my taste in movies. Or maybe it’s because the rom-coms of the last decade leave a lot to be desired. Why? Because although there have been a few good ones (“500 Days of Summer” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), I think the genre is having an identity crisis.

Some are slick and ’80s reminiscent, but that naïveté doesn’t fit anymore. Some go for a gritty ’90s feel, but they seem to be trying too hard. See, ’90s rom-coms were a reaction to the cheese-tastic style of ones made in the ’80s. We all enjoyed the silly implausibility of “16 Candles,” but by the time we had come out of the opulent haze of the ’80s, our romantic tastes got a sober makeover more appropriate for the times. They had a grittier, more realistic edge … but still with a happy ending. Nothing tugs at my heartstrings quite like grunge music and Doc Martens. After the jump, some of my fave ’90’s rom-coms face off against ones made in the 2000s. ’90s Film: “Singles”
2000s Version: “High Fidelity”
Winner: “Singles.” While both featured amazing music, the themes of failure to launch and late 20s commit-o-phobia just go better with grunge music, à la Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, than record collections. What seemed fresh and charming in the ’90s seemed annoying and self-absorbed in the 2000s. Plus, Bridget Fonda was like my style goddess. What ever happened to her by the way?

’90s Film: “Reality Bites”
2000s Version: “Knocked Up”
Winner: “Reality Bites.” Twenty-somethings choosing between yuppie hood and slackerdom should be motivated by the pursuit of films, music television, and frivolous love affairs … not by an accidental pregnancy. And one more word for you: soundtrack.

’90s Film: “Chasing Amy”
2000s Version: “Garden State”
Winner: “Chasing Amy.” Exploration of sexuality trumps mental illness. Every time. Kevin Smith gave us a much more realistic female character and Ben Affleck was actually good. Imagine that.

Which of these flicks do you prefer?