Tawna stopped by to talk about rom-com films. Tawna has a new book out this week called The Two-Date Rule
I have a confession.
Well, several of them, but most aren’t fit for public blog posts.
My confession is that I do not actually enjoy movies. I don’t like television, either. There is one in my home, though I have no idea how to operate it.
But once in a while, my film-loving husband will wear me down, and I’ll agree to watch something on a flickering screen. Sometimes, I even end up liking it.
One of the most common interview questions I field (besides the one about whether I act out all the sex scenes I write) is what my favorite movies and TV shows happen to be. Sometimes I make stuff up, but mostly I dredge the recesses of my brain to dig up the titles of a few films I’ve seen. Since I write and adore romantic comedy, the movies I’ve loved tend to be in that genre.
So, with the caveat that I am about the furthest thing from a film buff you can imagine, here are five of my favorite rom-com movies.
Crazy, Stupid Love
A good friend who knows I only watch two or three films a year called me the day after she watched Crazy, Stupid Love. “This needs to be one of your movies,” she said. “I promise, it’s perfect for you.” She wasn’t wrong. It stars Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone, which is an impressive cast for a film that didn’t make a huge splash at the box office.
The story follows Cal (Steve Carrell) as he cycles through divorce from his wife (Julianne Moore) and seeks the counsel of a notorious playboy (Ryan Gosling) to reclaim his manhood by learning to pick up women in bars. That’s a simplistic description of what’s actually a much more complex story about first loves, lost loves, lasting loves, and everything in between.
There are moments of true hilarity, and moments that make me bawl like a baby. But the scene that takes the cake for me is a shirtless Ryan Gosling explaining to Emma Stone about his “big move.”
For the record, it would totally work on me.
I know it’s flawed. I know there’s some misogynistic crap and a lot of fat-shaming, and that some parts of this nearly-20-year-old film do not hold up well.
But I can look past all of that and see the sweetness described in the opening lines delivered by Hugh Grant: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there— fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.”
I love that the film explores many different kinds of love. I love how beautifully flawed the characters are. I love the hilarity mixed with poignancy. I love that not every couple has a classic happily-ever-after.
And I especially love watching this one with the Christmas tree twinkling beside me and a big mug of eggnog in my hand.
The Big Sick
I adore based-on-a-true-story romances, and this sweet little indie film is loosely based on the real-life romance between its writers, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon.
Kumail is an uber driver and standup comic whose immigrant parents are determined to set him up with an arranged marriage to a Pakistani woman. A one-night stand with Emily, a white student, leads to a romance that lasts longer than either planned. They eventually break up, but when Emily ends up hospitalized weeks later, Kamil stays by her side and awkwardly bonds with her family.
The movie has a ton of heart, along with some tear-jerking moments. But the humor is what pulls it all together for me, especially some of the more relatable moments like where Emily does everything she can to avoid having to poop at her new boyfriend’s house.
I saw this one in the theater when I was in middle school and have probably watched it a dozen times since then. (Sidenote: while I re-read my favorite books dozens and sometimes hundreds of times, I seldom re-watch movies).
I love the chemistry among the whole cast of characters, and the dry wit with which Cary Elwes delivers his lines is pure gold. I also love that this one is family-friendly, and most of the times I’ve seen it have been with my kiddos.
And I adore how many quotable phrases there are in this film. If I had a nickel for each time a family member has dropped a Princess Bride reference into everyday conversation, I’d be a wealthy woman indeed.
Crazy, Rich Asians
This is one of the more recent films I’ve watched (and yes, my husband coerced me into it). The glitz and glamour of Singapore is a fun backdrop for this story of Chinese-American professor who travels to meet her boyfriend’s family and is surprised to discover they’re insanely wealthy. It’s a great story about the division of classes and the challenges of fitting in with your loved one’s family.
Even if I didn’t dig this film, I would watch it just to ogle actor Henry Golding. I’m not saying I hit “pause” on a scene where he appears shirtless, but I’m not saying I didn’t.
About the Book
Willa Frank has one simple rule: never go on a date with anyone more than twice. Now that her business is providing the stability she’s always needed, she can’t afford distractions. Her two-date rule will protect her just fine…until she meets smokejumper Grady Billman.
After one date—one amazing, unforgettable date—Grady isn’t ready to call it quits, despite his own no-attachments policy, and he’s found a sneaky way around both their rules.
Throwing gutter balls with pitchers of beer? Not a real date. Everyone knows bowling doesn’t count.
Watching a band play at a local show? They just happen to have the same great taste in music. Definitely not a date.
Hiking? Nope. How can exercise be considered a date?
With every “non-date” Grady suggests, his reasoning gets more ridiculous, and Willa must admit she’s having fun playing along. But when their time together costs Willa two critical clients, it’s clear she needs to focus on the only thing that matters—her future. And really, he should do the same.
But what is she supposed to do with a future that looks gray without Grady in it?
About the Author
When Tawna Fenske finished her English lit degree at 22, she celebrated by filling a giant trash bag full of romance novels and dragging it everywhere until she’d read them all. Now she’s a RITA Award finalist, USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Publishers Weekly has praised Tawna’s offbeat romances with multiple starred reviews and noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”
Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, step-kids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, stand up paddle boarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. To learn more about all of Tawna’s books, visit www.tawnafenske.com
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