After a long dip in popularity, the romantic comedy appears to be making a comeback : NPR

Romantic comedies: they are old-fashioned, sometimes swoon-worthy and if you look closely at films, you see them everywhere lately. After a long period of drought, the romantic comedy seems to be becoming popular again.



LEILA FADEL, HOSTESS:

Romcoms—romantic comedies—are corny, sometimes swoon-worthy, and if you watch movies closely, you’ll see them everywhere these days. Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell scored a box office hit this winter with “Anyone But You.”

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “ANYONE BUT YOU”)

SYDNEY SWEENEY: (as Beatrice) You know, maybe we should just do it – tell everyone we're together.

GLEN POWELL: (As Ben) Making her jealous isn't going to work. We're not in seventh grade.

SWEENEY: (As Beatrice) Trust me, bro. We're all in the seventh grade when it comes to this stuff.

FADEL: The latest romantic comedy to top the Netflix charts is called “A Family Affair.” Zac Efron plays a stuck-up Hollywood actor who sleeps with the mother of his assistant, played by Nicole Kidman.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE FILM, “A FAMILY AFFAIR”)

ZAC EFRON: (as Chris) I've been waiting for you forever.

NICOLE KIDMAN: (As Brooke) Is that a line from the movie?

EFRON: (As Chris) Yeah, but this time I mean it.

KIDMAN: (as Brooke) Oh, that's so hot.

FADEL: (Laughter) Linda Holmes is the co-host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and she's here to shed some light on the phenomenon of the rom-com revival. Hi, Linda.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Hello.

FADEL: Okay. I really love romantic comedies, so I'm happy about this resurgence. Let's talk about the Netflix hit “A Family Affair.” Why do people connect with it so much?

HOLMES: Well, I really like the performances. Zac Efron, who's had a really interesting career for himself since he broke out as a Disney kid doing the “High School Musical” stuff, is really funny, playing a sort of Hollywood actor with a stubborn streak. Nicole Kidman has a role that's a little lighter than some of the really sad stories she's been doing over the years, and I really like Joey King, who plays her daughter and Efron's assistant, so there's really good chemistry there, which is what romantic comedies thrive on. That's what I liked about this movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE FILM, “A FAMILY AFFAIR”)

JOEY KING: (as Zara) Is this about the movie?

EFRON: (As Chris) I'm concerned that the script doesn't make sense.

KING: (As Zara) That's because it doesn't make sense. It's very confusing. Like, the whole, like, Santa's department store is a Nordic terrorist thing?

EFRON: (As Chris) They want it to be a Christmas movie. It's “Die Hard” meets “Miracle On 34th Street.” The real Santa Claus gets kidnapped.

KING: (As Zara) Why do you have to go to Antarctica before you run with the suicide bombers? Do you hear how stupid that sounds?

EFRON: (As Chris) No. It's “Die Hard” combined with “Miracle on 34th Street,” with a little bit of “Speed.”

KING: (As Zara) But “Speed” was already “Die Hard” on the bus.

EFRON: (As Chris) Now you're confusing us on purpose.

KING: (As Zara) No, I'm…

HOLMES: And this plot, by the way, where a woman falls in love with a much younger celebrity, might remind people of a movie called “The Idea Of You,” which came out recently and starred Anne Hathaway. Although I have to say, I liked that one much better.

FADEL: So Hollywood loves trends, so I imagine this is the start of a lot of romantic comedies coming our way. What should we look out for the rest of the summer?

HOLMES: There are a couple. There's a movie coming out this Friday called “Fly Me To The Moon” with Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum, so that's the kind of, like, big star power that you would get in romantic comedies when I was younger. It's set in the '60s. It's about a staged moon landing, and I'm looking forward to that.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “FLY ME TO THE MOON”)

CHANNING TATUM: (As Cole) If you fake this mission, everything we've sacrificed will have been for nothing.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: (As Kelly) You know you couldn't have gotten to this day without me.

HOLMES: There's also a movie coming out next week with Harry Connick Jr. called “Find Me Falling,” where he plays a musician who moves to Cyprus and reconnects with an old flame.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “FIND ME FALLING”)

HARRY CONNICK JR: (As John) I waited for you that day.

AGNI SCOTT: (As Sia) I was young. I was scared.

ALI FUMIKO WHITNEY: (As Melina) He crossed an ocean and waited a lifetime. So did you.

FADEL: Oh, I'm here for all this silliness. Okay, Linda – is it fair to call this moment the revival of romantic comedies?

HOLMES: Well, romantic comedies change form more often than they ever go away.

FADEL: Right.

HOLMES: Love stories are one of the oldest kinds of stories, after all, so there's always romances and there's always rom-coms. The ones on basic cable have always been popular — your Hallmark and Lifetime movies and all that…

FADEL: Right.

HOLMES: …But, like most genres of movies that tend to be mid-sized movies, whether they're adult dramas or courtroom dramas or thrillers or whatever, the theatrical presence of romantic comedies isn't what it was from, say, the late '80s to the early 2000s. I think they've had some success on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and there are some really good shows in the rom-com genre now. There's one called “Colin From Accounts,” which is great. That's an Australian series that you can find in the U.S. on Paramount+. “Starstruck” on Max is another one. Both of those are essential if you like rom-coms. So I think there's definitely a little bit more going on in this space than there has been for a while.

FADEL: That's Linda Holmes, pop culture correspondent and co-host of NPR's podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour. Thank you, Linda.

HOLMES: Thank you.

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