Did We Fail to Appreciate the Rom-Com Boom of the 90s? Maybe...

Julia Roberts says that the rom-com boom of the 90s was under-appreciated
'My Best Friend's Wedding'Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing
Julia Roberts believes we didn't give enough credit to the rom-com boom of the 1990s, and she might be right. 

Romantic comedies have been around since the early days of Hollywood. It is a genre that still reigns supreme. Although the genre experienced a lull in the late 2000s, the rom-com seems to be on a comeback with films like Set It Up, Love, Simon, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Marry Me

Julia Roberts, who dominated the genre throughout the 90s, is returning to romantic comedies with the upcoming Ticket to Paradise. Roberts hopes that audiences will finally appreciate the hard work that goes into making feel-good cinema that is designed to make you laugh a lot while you shed a tear or two. 

Roberts recently told the New York Times that she believes moviegoers didn’t truly appreciate the romantic comedy films of the 90s enough.

“I think we didn’t appreciate the bumper crop of romantic comedies that we had then,” Roberts said. 

She also said the films were more complex than audiences gave them credit for.

“You don’t see all the effort and puppet strings because it’s fun and sweet and people are laughing and kissing and being mischievous,” Roberts said. 

The critically-acclaimed actress was the undisputed queen of romantic comedies in the 90s, starring in Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Mystic Pizza, and Notting Hill. Roberts put a hold on her dominance of the genre because “there wasn’t a single good script.”

She still loves the genre, and finally found a project that meets her standards.

This is a genre that I love to participate in and watch, and I think they are hard to get right,” Roberts said. “There is a really simple math to it, but how do you make it special? How do you keep people interested when you can kind of predict what is coming?” 

Like any genre, there are tropes and story beats that make a rom-com work, but it’s the story’s approach to these tropes that leave audiences feeling hopeful and emotional. I don’t think predictability is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s the journey to those predictable moments that make a rom-com successful.

Julia Roberts says the rom-com boom of the 90s was under-appreciated
'Pretty Woman'Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Roberts understands that writing and directing a romantic comedy takes a certain kind of skill that is often taken for granted given how sweet and lighthearted the films of the genre can be. The genre speaks to the human desire to fight for what someone really wants, and they normally are rewarded for their honesty. 

I believe that the romantic comedy boom of the 90s is highly appreciated today, and is often looked back at for inspiration for writers. It’s a tricky genre that doesn’t rely on the love story. Instead, romantic comedies are about capturing the most relatable and most human moments. 

If you’re going to write one, I recommended using this test to help you subvert tropes to make your idea feel fresh. You might be able to come up with the next romantic comedy that defines the new era of the genre. 

What are your favorite romantic comedies? Let us know in the comments!     

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