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The Top 5 Uses of Alcohol in a Romantic Comedy
Something I love about alcohol -- onscreen and off -- is the way having another drink can feel like a yes or a no to the possibilities of the night.
By Johannah King-Slutzky
Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston star in Drinking Buddies, the Wilde/Livingston vehicle and apparently quality rom com out last Friday. Friday also marks the day of the landmark Buzzfeed study, Drunk vs. Stoned (embedded below). Clearly, booze is in the air. Here's Nerve's Top 5 list of rom coms indebted to alcohol.
5. Bridesmaids (2011)
This isn't your traditional "man and woman get drunk together, fall in love" use of booze. Co-writers Kristen Wiig and Mumolo make use of the one-too-many trope when Wiig's character, Annie Walker, gets drunk and high aboard a cross-country flight on the way to Vegas. Annie and her fellow bridesmaids are kicked off the flight, and bride-to-be Lillian Donovan (Maya Rudolph) takes Annie off maid of honor duties. It's a turning point in the plot and last stop on the way to a sweat pants clad rock bottom before Wiig's character inevitably gets her shit together and reconfirms her platonic love for BFF Lillian. Oh, and I guess there's a romance with Girls's Chris O'Dowd, too? Besides the drunk hijinks and poop jokes, Feminist A plot/B plot switcheroos are part of what make this movie great.
4. Chasing Amy (1997)
Told from the perspective of a straight man (Ben Affleck) dating a queer woman (Joey Lauren Adams), Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy focuses its considerable angst on Affleck's character's attempts to come to terms with the scope of his girlfriend's sexual experiences. Early in the film Affleck and Adams ignite a slow burn of sexual tension during a pitch-perfect bar scene whose plot is more or less the gist of Weezer's "Pink Triangle." It concisely encapsulates the sexually confused vibe of the movie while also giving us a great representation of what it's like to avoid looking dweeby and drunk at a concert.
3. North By Northwest (1959)
Not a romantic comedy, you say? Pshaw. The romance between Roger Thornhill (a very orange Cary Grant) and Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) is the only part of this movie that makes any sense. For any pre-M. Night Shyamalan thriller noobs out there, here's a NxNW recap: Roger Thornhill, a straightlaced ad exec, is a victim of mistaken identity when he is kidnapped by two strange Russian-ish men from a hotel lobby. The pair take Thornhill to an estate on Long Island where he's pumped for info regarding some kind of spy business before his interrogator orders Thornhill's removal by way of excessive bourbon consumption. Thornhill eventually gets away, falls in love with the aforementioned Eve Kendall, and works his way into the world of espionage to which he was incorrectly accused of belonging at the start of the film. It's a great movie with a lot up for close reading (Thornhill's initialls spell out "ROT," for example), and none of it would have been possible without the bizarre assassination method proffered up by brown liquor.
2. Knocked Up (2007)
Earlier I said that Bridesmaids wasn't your traditional "man and woman get drunk together" use of alcohol-- well, Knocked Up is, in fact, that comedy, with one twist: the falling in love part doesn't happen until the movie's female protagonist (played by Katherine Heigl) is already pregnant and very, very sober. Is this movie an implicit endorsement for arranged marriage? Political values aside, the charmingly churlish attempts of Seth Rogan's Ben Stone to become a responsible partner and father make me glad simultaneously for unconcerned parents and Friday nights out every time I watch this film.
1. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Something I love about alcohol -- onscreen and off -- is the way having another drink can feel like a yes or a no to the possibilities of the night. The Kids Are All Right, which takes lesbian relationships and adoption as its source material, was a controversial movie on both ends of the political spectrum. To me, all the criticism is bunk. This isn't the place to go into detail about what makes TKAAR so culturally and emotionally astute: all you need to know is that its preoccupation with alcohol as both a potential crutch and an affirmation is one of the best uses of booze in a film I've ever seen. In one of TKAAR's most powerful scenes, cuckolded wife Nic (Anette Benning) finally warms up to her children's formerly anonymous sperm donor at a dinner party, only to excuse herself to the donor's bathroom where she discovers her wife's strands of hair in the donor's bathroom drain and bed -- proof of adultery. It's all very poignant, made all the more so through the aid of wine as a prop, an essential and ultimately bittersweet "yes to the night."
Got any movies to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
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