Decaf Actually...is all around.


I admit it. In front of you and everyone. I love me a good Rom Com. I also, kind of, love me a bad Rom Com! Romantic Comedies may be my favorite genre of film, for many reasons. I know, it’s a bold statement, and many think I should be embarrassed by this declaration. Don’t get me wrong, I really soak up all film genres because, like most people, I just love movies. However, the satisfaction I experience with a quality Rom Com, draws me to them more and more, the older I get.


Phyllis and Howard

Years ago, I wrote an outline of a Rom Com based on my parents’ love story. It has all the components for a perfect holiday release. I changed their story, ever so slightly, to make me the first-born. Everything else is pretty accurate. The draft still sits in its outline form, waiting for me to meet a screenwriter who wants to pitch it to a studio, and write it with me! I will tell you the sketch of their story, but you have to promise not to steal my idea.


Just imagine it’s the late 1940’s and young Howard, the handsome football star, returns from the Navy, post World War II. He attends college while beautiful, shy Phyllis works at an insurance company and lives with her mother and older sisters. (Side note; My grandfather passed away when my mother was a little girl, so she and her sisters had to start working as teenagers.) It’s Christmas Eve and Phyllis and friend are walking to midnight mass when Howie and friends drive by. They sweet-talk the girls into having coffee, instead of going to church. In the year that follows, Jewish Howie wants to marry Catholic Phyllis. Remember the era. This was practically unheard of at the time, and created enormous angst for all involved. But when two people are in love, anything is possible! Howie proposes, and literally says, “I don’t know if I can marry you, but I want you to have the ring anyway.” Classic Howard.


Howard’s father says “We have to talk the kids out of this.” Phyllis’s mother says “I would love nothing more than to have Howard as a son in law.” (Side note; My maternal grandmother was Irish, my maternal grandfather was Swedish, and they also had to fight prejudice to get married. Side note number two; This made my maternal grandmother very hip and ahead of her time). Phyllis decides to convert and truly embraces her Judaism. They quickly get married before moving to Chicago for Howie’s new job. In my version, the wedding happens in the early Spring, and then I am born on Christmas Eve. Isn’t it perfect? Can’t you see the backdrop of the post war era? The music, the fashion, the Jewish humor, and the Christmas Eve to Christmas Eve beginning and ending? A real life Rom Com complete with tension and release. I bet you can’t wait to see it! Me too!


Popcorn and Decaf

Until I get that movie made, I’ll just have to keep cozying up with my girls on the couch and we’ll watch us some Rom Coms! Here are some of the reasons why:


Reason one: Obviously, the predictability is an anti-anxiety formula. Not mentioning any names, but I know someone who becomes anxious if she doesn’t know the ending of a plot line. She will look up a spoiler, online, mid movie, just so she can relax and enjoy. Well, with a Rom Com, she never has to worry! It will always end the same, thus avoiding the negative anticipation when the tension emerges. Just trust that Love will win every time. Romance and comedy prevail!


Reason two: Rom Coms are light, and light is often what we need. My work is filled with children who experience difficult challenges. I need to do many things to take care of myself and combat the stress. So, why would I feel bad about watching something that is considered “feel good?” I wonder why these things are referred to as “guilty pleasures?” Pleasure should not feel guilty. That defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?


Reason three: The women in Rom Coms are usually in positions of power and the men are often sensitive and thoughtful. These roles inspire. I’m not sure why the term “Chick Flick” has a diminutive connotation. Men can enjoy these movies as much as “chicks” do. Why not just stick to the gender-neutral phrase, “Rom Com?”


Reason four: The backdrops in these films tend to include something poignant, a broader topic as a placeholder, to help us relate to the culture, the era, and the human condition. You can find politics, women empowerment, parenting, grief and loss, and socio-economic equality. You know the story; smart woman moves up in the corporate world, young man from the wrong side of the tracks breaks the mold, single parent finds strength to carry on. Some heavier messages to counter balance the light.


Reason five: Another virtue about Rom Coms is that they sustain their allure over time. An old Rom Com doesn’t become out-dated. Rather, like an antique, it increases in value. The really great ones beg for you to watch them over and over again. You can laugh more the second or tenth time around. Not only can you re-live your favorite moment, but you can relish in the fact that the characters will evolve and learn their lessons well.


Reason six: Rom Coms can be a very healthy thing! I just saw the new Rebel Wilson movie, Isn’t It Romantic, in which she tries to prove that Rom Coms are unhealthy because they are not reality based. Guess what happens? Her life becomes a Rom Com and everything works out for the best! Yes, I am going out on a limb when I say, that we, like Rebel’s character, can all learn a healthy thing or two about relationships and communication from Rom Coms. You can learn how not to behave, and how to resolve conflict. As they point out, when you come from a place of Love, well… everyone feels better. The good guys always win in a Rom Com.


Top Ten

So, if you aren’t a fan, I encourage you to give them a try!!! And if you already are a fan, then pour a cup of decaf and get lost in your favorite Rom Com. Here are my current Top Ten. Trust me, this list was very difficult to compose. So many favorites, so little space.


#10 Pretty Woman– It’s a classic. You have to love it. Julia Roberts’ smile, brown polka dot dress, and ultimate triumph gives you the feeling that all things are possible! If you don’t love this one…mistake, BIG mistake.

#9 Music and Lyrics– Who doesn’t love Drew Barrymore? She is charming and witty and you’ll be singing the songs and dancing along with Hugh Grant in no time. Pop goes my heart!

#8 Dan in Real Life– Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche have perfect timing and chemistry, and he does that endearing dad thing so well! Best line, however, comes from daughter Cara, played by Britt Robertson. “You are a murderer of love!”

#7 Four Weddings and a Funeral– Oldie but goodie and Andie McDowell’s character is named Carrie! This is early Hugh Grant, before we knew he would star in almost every Rom Com, ever.

#6 Sleepless in Seattle– Another widower-finds-love story. Tom Hanks is honestly amazing in anything he does, so, enjoy again and again. And I love that Meg Ryan’s character swoons over An Affair to Remember. So you get a movie inside a movie! A two-for!

#5 The Big Sick– Honestly, I’ve only seen it once, but it has everything I love. Mostly because it is based on a true story romance, like my parents’. Hilariously funny. two families and cultures merging, and really smart writing! Thank you Kumail Nanjiani and co-star Zoe Kazan!

#4 Notting Hill– Bring together Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant? Brilliant! And all the supporting cast members are awesome! Who couldn’t love them, and the backdrop of London? Many name this as their number one favorite. What do you think?

#3 Something’s Gotta Give– OK, I love this movie because it is finally a fabulous film about later-in-life love. They are mature and offer so much chemistry, humor, and tenderness. I wish Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson would play my parents in the sequel of my movie!

#2 When Harry Met Sally– This is an iconic and timeless favorite. I think I have to watch it with you again soon, because we simply love Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

#1 Love Actually– I’m not sure how to speak about this movie, because it might be not just my favorite Rom Com, but Actually my favorite movie of all time!!! Yes, Love Actually… is all around.

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