I feel like a genre there isn’t enough of is horror-comedy. And there are some winners out there! I watched three delightful ones today: Extra Ordinary (2019), Little Evil (2017) and Beetlejuice (1988). And I can wholeheartedly recommend them all!
Extra Ordinary follows a driving instructor with a Talent for the supernatural who gets roped into helping a man rid his house of his wife’s spirit. The spirit will go so far as to dictate what shirt he can and can’t wear, how much toast he should eat, or where the plates need to go into the dishwasher. Honestly, it’s hilarious.
Little Evil is about a man with a stepson who takes pranks to an extra level – to the point where the father starts to wonder if he’s actually evil. The opening scene is the wife having to dig her husband out of the ground because the stepson buried him. Adam Scott is honestly a gem in this! I laughed so much.
Beetlejuice is a classic Tim Burton! I remember, vaguely, seeing it as a child, but I couldn’t remember anything about it other than Winona Ryder was in it. I totally forget it had Alec Baldwin! It also has Catherine O’Hara and watching it so soon after finishing Schitt’s Creek gave me the giggles. She’s a star!
Anyone else love horror-comedy? I’d love some recommendations!
Reality Bites [2003 | indie, romance, drama] This quiet, understated indie movie is one I wish I’d watched sooner! It stars Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller and Ethan Hawke. I was really surprised I’d never seen it before! The film follows a group of friends after they graduate from college (or don’t, in some cases) and try to figure out their lives in the adult world. Main character Lelaina moves in with her best friend Vickie, and then their two friends Troy and Sammy also move in. Lelaina works on a television show writing notes for a misogynistic boss that she barely tolerates, Vickie gets a job in sales, and for a while they manage to make it work. On the side, Lelaina is filming her documentary on the side, capturing more quiet, intimate moments of the group and their arrival into adulthood. After Lelaina tosses her cigarette into Michael’s (Ben Stiller) car and causes him to crash, the pair begin to date, much to Troy’s displeasure.
I was surprised to learn that Ben Stiller directed this one! I had no idea! I’m surprised it took me so long, because I adore the cast and have always liked Ben Stiller’s and Winona Ryder’s movies. If you like romantic indie movies à la Before Sunrise, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or 10 Things I Hate About You, give this a go!
Lady Bird [2017| drama, indie, coming of age] This film follows a young girl getting ready for college and her struggling relationship with her mother. It’s set in Sacramento where Lady Bird, the main girl, is about to graduate from her strict Catholic high school and is dealing with the complicated road ahead of her. Her mother wants her to stay in California, she wants to go to New York. She’s at odds with her mother’s standards and views, but it’s clear that they love each other. Every time they fight, they make up. The dramatics are contrasted by the sweet moments, and I’d say it’s more of a mother-daughter movie than a romance, although there is a love interest in the form of Kyle (Timothée Chalamet).
I really loved Lady Bird (real name Christine) as a character. Saoirse Ronan is a wonderful actress and was at her absolute best in this role. I love the dynamics between Lady Bird and her mother, and Lady Bird and her father, as well as her friendship with Julie. It’s a touching independent movie and has that ‘real feel’ to it.
Accepted [2006 | comedy, new adult] is one of my favourite silly comedies. It stars Justin Long, Columbus Short, Maria Thayer, Blake Lively and Jonah Hill. The movie centres upon Bartleby Gaines after he’s rejected from every college he applies to. In a desperate attempt to get his father off his back, Bartleby fakes a college acceptance letter and website with the help of his friends who also struggled to get into school. The website accidentally accepts everyone who tries to apply, however, and dozens of kids show up on the ‘first day of school’. Once he realises how much it means to everyone there, Bartleby decides to continue with it and very soon the students are running the asylum-turned-faux-college. It’s not a particularly plausible movie, but I really do adore the lightness of it. The movie has a good message about being true to yourself and the main characters are all likeable. If you’re looking for something feel good and fun, I totally recommend this one!
The Last Romeo by Justin Myers, narrated by Joe Jameson [lgbt+, contemporary, comedy]
‘If only men knew how charming, how attractive it is to admit fault. To say they fudged it, to confess they don’t know something, to be willing to learn. It’s hot. Refreshing. […] It is all powerful. But men must come to this conclusion themselves. They can’t be told. They don’t like to be told.’
The Last Romeo is an utterly charming novel! It follows James on his quest to find love and the problems that come from being too open on the internet. After his breakup with his long term beau Adam, he begins documenting his attempts at navigating the dating world on a blog, vaguely keeping things anonymous but not quite as anonymous as he probably should have been. Along the way, he meets numerous kinds of men. The dates range from the utterly awkward, to the gross and uncomfortable (the description of one man’s bathroom will stay with me for ETERNITY), to the heart-fluttery and love-struck.
James, or ‘Jim’, makes a lot of mistakes in his quest for the perfect man. He gets bitter, even mean in his blog posts, but the other characters are quick to point out his bitchy moments and don’t shy away from telling him when he’s in the wrong. I quite liked the background characters as well, which is hugely important for a story. His friends Bella, Richie and Nicole, and little Hayden are all awesome; Nate, the (closeted) sports star, was adorable and totally stole my heart; then there’s Finn, the writer, and Luca, the blog fan who James gets to know over months of posts. They’re all very well rounded. You get more characters on the dates, but those really stick out in my mind. There’s also James’ rival at work and his dealings with his boss, both of which come up quite often throughout the novel.
I adored Nate especially. PROTECT NATE AT ALL COSTS. But James does spend a good bit of time thinking about his actions and reflecting; he admits his faults and tries to change. There’s good character growth. He acknowledges enjoying the fame his blog eventually brings him and how it negatively impacted his own view of things. He also gets some very sage advice: ‘If you don’t give your critics any meat, they can’t tear it from your bones.’
My prediction of the ending changed a few times and I kept wanting him to end up with different characters at different points. Ultimately, I quite liked the ending! If you’re looking for a fun rom-com novel, I totally recommend this one. And I’m definitely adding the author’s new novel The Magnificent Sons to my list.