Last month’s twenty-fifth anniversary of Nora Ephron’s classic When Harry Met Sally… inspired a number of think pieces on the state of today’s romantic comedy, with entertainment critics sounding a death knell that has long been ringing for the box office rom-bomb.
The article that really caught my attention was The Atlantic Megan Garber’s “When Harry Met eHarmony,” in which she argues that the invention and popularity of online dating has taken the mystery out of romance.
“The will-they-or-won’t-they—the gooey stuff that forms the rom-com’s gooey center—becomes less compelling a tension in a world ever more dominated by signals and swipes,” she writes.
Garber claims that Hollywood “hasn’t caught up to the way we love now,” ignoring a current culture that pairs up not through chance encounters—at a bookstore, cubicle, or seedy West Hollywood street corner—but via algorithms on an app or website. As she points out, “there has been no You’ve Got Mail for the OkCupid era.”
Which got me wondering, what would a You’ve Got Mail look like for the OkCupid era? What kind of rom-com do the elusive, self-absorbed, selfie-taking, Tinder-swiping millennials want?
As both a member of the #lazygeneration and a 90’s California child who grew up obsessed with any romantic comedy that took place in New York (meaning all of them), I decided to help Hollywood out and create the modern updates for some of our (okay, my) favorite rom-coms.
You’ve Got Kale
The Classic: In You’ve Got Mail Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are enemies by day—he’s the heir to an expanding pre-Kindle Barnes & Noble-esque mega-chain, she’s got the charming bookshop around the corner—and admirers by night as they start unknowingly talking to each other via this new and mysterious thing called AOL chat.
The Update: You’ve Got Kale tells the tale of Tommy, an independent owner of a vegetable stand, and Megan, a CEO of a Whole Foods-type organic superstore that’s slowly making the farmer’s market obsolete. The two fight over property and customers (“But Tommy, she has gluten-free cookie butter!”), not knowing they’re simultaneously bonding over The Barefoot Contessa and molecular gastronomy techniques in the anonymous comment section on a foodie forum. They finally realize each other’s identities, and shared love, when they bump into each other at an artisanal, chef-driven, farm-to-table restaurant.
The Classic: Julia Roberts is a charismatic American movie star (so, herself) who walks into a British bookstore in Notting Hill and falls in love with “regular Joe” Hugh Grant. Most famous for the line: “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
The Update: A charismatic British mega-DJ takes a break from Coachella by ducking into a nearby record store, where he’s charmed by a quirky music snob (probably played by Zooey Deschanel) who refuses to listen to anything in the Top 40. He will eventually give up his jetsetting doses and mimosas lifestyle, she’ll learn to love the radio, and they’ll live happily ever after in the place people only visit for music festivals, frat formals, and golf. Will probably feature the line: “I don’t care if you’re 90’s throwback R&B and I’m progressive House, together we could make beautiful music.”
Need a Lyft?
The Classic: My Best Friend’s Wedding is basically a movie about Julia Roberts proving that she can try to destroy Dermot Mulroney’s wedding, steal Cameron Diaz’s man, and she’ll still come out looking like America’s sweetheart.
The Update: Derrick is an aspiring writer who makes his real money working shifts for Lyft. One day he picks up Julie and falls in love with her in the duration of the ride, only to realize that (Twist!) he’s dropping her off at a rehearsal dinner for his long-forgotten high school best friend’s wedding and (Double twist!) she’s the bride. When his old bro invites him to the festivities, Derrick decides it was fate and he has to break up the wedding for his destiny. Hilarity and hijinks–not, you know, creepy stalker behavior–ensue!
The Classic: Matthew McConaughey rescues Jennifer Lopez from getting hit by a cab when her heel gets stuck in a storm drain. A movie in the park and brown M&M’s makes it all seem very promising until she finds out days later she’s been hired to be his…Wedding Planner.
The Update: Engaged action star Matt McConaissance gets into a PR-mess when he pulls an Anthony Weiner and tweets out a picture of his—let’s just call it Carlos Danger—to his followers instead of in a DM to a random girl. His publicist hires Jenny, a celebrity tweeter (which apparently is a real paid occupation in the twenty-first century), who concocts a plan to rush M.Co’s wedding and live-tweet the ceremony to renew the fans’ faith in his perfect Hollywood romance—but whose romance will it be? Logline: Who says you need more than 140 characters to fall in love.
You Won’t BELIEVE How this Couple from OPPOSITE SIDES of the Country fell in LOVE!
The Classic: Tom Hanks’ movie son calls up a Seattle radio show one night and tells everyone the story of how his lonely widower dad can’t sleep at night–hence, Sleepless in Seattle—and needs a new wife. Meg Ryan becomes one of the thousands of women who fall in love with this man they’ve never met—but she’s the one meeting him at the top of the Empire State building.
The Update: Meghan is fighting another night of insomnia by reading BuzzFeed when she comes across a new article titled “15 Heart-Warming Ways this Widower Dad Keeps the Memory of His Wife Alive For His Son,” a listicle Thomas’ 10-year-old son pitched to the site without him knowing. Thomas becomes a viral sensation, with a photoshopped picture shared all over Facebook (Give me a like if you want to be my new wife!), an Upworthy video, and an offer to be the next Bachelor. Even thousands of miles away, Meghan can’t help but fall in love with the man on her screen.
Miss Fan Favorite
The Classic: I know Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt was the romance we were supposed to be cheering for in Miss Congeniality, but the real rom-com chemistry onscreen was between Sandra and the great Batman’s butler-turned-pageant director Michael Caine.
The Update: Sandy is a dating-hating FBI agent whose unit forces her to enter The Bachelor undercover to try and find out who’s planning on bombing the show during the final Live! After the Rose special. Sandy’s offbeat humor make her a standout—both with the guy and the audience—and she becomes the season’s fan favorite. With Sandy so caught up in the possibility of becoming the next Bachelorette (she’s so not here for the right reasons), will she ever realize host Chris Harrison’s plan of vengeance against ABC for never making him The Bachelor!?
The iOS Trap
The Classic: In The Parent Trap, a divorced couple is forced to reunite when the twin daughters they’ve–somehow acceptably–kept separated for their entire lives pull the old switcharoo and pretend to be each other, hoping to get their parents to fall back in love so Lindsay Lohan can hang out with herself again.
The Update: Lindsey and Logan go on a Tinder date from hell, hating each other just from their drink orders. Cutting the date off as fast as possible, they don’t realize they’ve picked up each other’s identical iPhone 5’s until they get to their respective homes. With too much alcohol in their system to drive and neither wanting to get another Lyft (damn you prime-time), they decide to exchange the next day. But as Lindsey and Logan dig deeper into each other’s phones, the two are intrigued by what they find (mostly that he doesn’t take mirror photos of his abs and that she has more snaps of her dog than of her #OOTD) and soon they’re ready to give their date a second chance at life—or swipe.
Ulysses + Lynda
The Classic: So, okay, a Shakespeare play that ends with teenage suicide a romantic comedy does not one make, but don’t tell me you didn’t laugh just a little when you realized the tragedy in Baz Luhrmann’s ecstasy-fueled modernized version is spurred by the fact that FedEx is a day late.
The Update: A miserable Ulysses pulls over by a gas station at the end of the night to clean out the vomit his last passenger left in his Uber car. It’s there he locks eyes with Lynda, an effervescent being walking out of the mini-mart, her arms full of candy, a huge smile on her face—and he immediately runs over to talk to her. When Ulysses realizes his car’s been stolen (damn you San Francisco), Lynda offers to give him a lift. It’s only after she drops him off, not letting him leave without a fist bump, that he notices the pink mustache on her hood and realizes—she’s the enemy! And well…you know how the story ends.
Shoutout to Thelma writer Aaron for the ideas that inspired the last two updates!