At the beginning of the year, I wrote a story listing the new romance movies coming out in 2023. I was excited. I was hopeful. Maybe this year would bring with it some romantic comedies worth a re-watch — something like “Clueless” or “You’ve Got Mail” (both of which I have happily watched dozens of times). So far this year, nothing from the genre has impressed me.
Despite recent halfhearted attempts to revive the iconic ’80s and ’90s movie genre, it seems the art of the rom-com might be at death’s door. Revival might require a miracle.
I saw potential in the new Apple TV+ movie “Ghosted,” with its fun premise and qualified cast (Ana de Armas and Chris Evans). I was moderately entertained and laughed a handful of times, but I would never watch it again. Critics were much harsher.
What have critics said about ‘Ghosted’?
“‘Ghosted’ is one of the worst rom-coms in recent history,” panned Rolling Stone. “It’s readily apparent that de Armas and Evans, charismatic and charming on their own, have next to no chemistry. Every line delivery is so stilted it’s as though they’re being read off cue-cards, a la SNL”
“Ghosted is just happy to evoke the concept of entertainment in the hopes that some pretty faces and a familiar arrangement of flashing lights might be enough to convince the stock market that Apple is investing its money rather than (wasting it),” criticized IndieWire.
Are new rom-coms any good?
In February, Netflix’s Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher rom-com — “Your Place or Mine” — generated similar feelings from critics.
“Everyone here — the actors, the audience, the genre — deserves better,” wrote Entertainment Weekly.
Vanity Fair roasted, “‘Your Place or Mine’ occasionally gives off a glimmer of something interesting, but all too quickly snaps back to the featureless drudgery that has, sadly, come to define its genre.”
Last year wasn’t much better. The genre attempted to survive on “Marry Me,” “The Lost City” and “Ticket to Paradise.” All were a fun one-time watch, but none came close to the standard set by “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” or “She’s The Man.”
As far as I’m concerned, the last good new rom-com I saw (and voluntarily re-watched) was “To All The Boys I Loved Before” in 2018. The last five years have been mostly disappointing to fans of the rom-com genre.
Are rom-coms dead?
But rom-coms shouldn’t be pronounced dead — yet.
The last decade has given us a sprinkling of worthy rom-coms such as “The Duff,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Set it Up” and “The Other Woman.”
So what’s gone wrong in the past couple years?
“Mostly, rom-coms have been shunted to streaming or television, as with so much of Hollywood stuff that’s not huge-budget. Now it’s just TV, which is expanding and expanding with all these streaming companies,” David Sims said in The Atlantic.
Like “Ghosted” and “Your Place or Mine,” most rom-coms are getting made and debuted by streaming platforms like Netflix rather than big production companies like Warner Bros. that made movies like “You’ve Got Mail” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”
The efforts made by streaming platforms is respectable. One some level, they are keeping the genre alive. But rom-com fans deserve better. If the rom-com genre is going to expand in the next decade, it’ll take a serious effort.