I've been keeping an eye on films released though the year, as I always do, but with a particular look at gender dynamics and sole protagonists vs. ensemble cast and in doing so noticed an trend that has taken me a bit by surprize. This is the double protagonist with a male and female lead, not romance-focused, although it's usually involved somewhere plus crossing over not one but several genres. Phew, I think I got that all out there in one go. The majority of the films that fall under this umbrella are 2 big stars in romcomesque + at least one other genre, often action of some kind. They are all different enough that it's no do-over of trending of the likes of Armageddon/Deep Impact days, and it's a good 5 years since we say Mr. and Mrs. Smith, so I wonder what's brought this crop to harvest within months of each other?
Now, romcoms are no stranger to double protagonist films, as are buddy cop movies and adversary crime films, but the films that follow this new pattern have elements of sometimes all of these things. The films that have been on the radar here are The Bounty Hunter, Date Night, Killers, Knight and Day, and The Adjustment Bureau.
None of them are straight up romcoms or romances, but there is a couple or ex-couple or possible couple in all of them, plus an action and/or thriller element to them as well. That's a lot for 1 film, no? And times that by 5 films. Weird. Does having more elements to each film make it more appealing, or even broaden an audience that wouldn't be sold on a straight-up dramatic or romantic story? Do we, the audience, expect some kind of action in almost every film we see now? Explosions! Yay! Myself, I don't *need* explosions in a film. Nothing wrong with them, but they don't get a tick box on any kind of score card I'd keep. Or, is it playing the gender card of having both romance + action targeted to please a 'normal couple' stereotype of the ladies liking the romance and the guys liking the action?
Out of the options there, I'm going to pull a different card. The casting. We are seeing stars here - double billed and equally represented star power and that I'm liking. Steve Carell & Tina Fey? Even for a non-comedy centric me, that got me in the theatre to see Date Night. Tom Cruise & Cameron Diaz as inadvertent must-stick-together adventurers in Knight and Day? Yep - I'm sold. And no one is going to be able to keep me away from seeing Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau (Sept 17, 2010 can't come soon enough!), and it's billed as Sci-Fi/Romance. That's a happy dance moment (check out the trailer if you are yet to be convinced). When you look at the pairings, they are predominately a female comedic actor with male action stars. Very interesting.
I'm not sure if some of these are spinning too many plates or not. I'm all for genre mash ups, but these feel like a bit of a new breed. What are your thoughts? Which films are you interested in why? The action, romance, casting, plot or all of the above? Which aren't appealing?
Here's a few details on each of the films mentioned.
The Bounty Hunter
Female Lead: Jennifer Aniston (Love Happens, Marley & Me, The Break-Up)
Male Lead: Gerard Butler (Gamer, RocknRolla, 300)
Plot: A bounty hunter (Gerard Butler) gets a case to target his ex-wife (Jennifer Aniston), a journalist working to crack a murder case.
Release Date: Friday March 19, 2010
Female Lead: Tina Fey (Baby Mama)
Male Lead: Steve Carell (Get Smart, Dan in Real Life, The 40 Year Old Virgin)
Plot: An everyday married couple with kids insists on having their date night, which leads to a little more action than they expected
Release Date: Friday April 9, 2010
Female Lead: Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, Knocked Up)
Male Lead: Ashton Kutcher (Spread, The Guardian)
Plot: Swiftly together new couple are keeping secrets, of the 'I'm a secret agent' variety.
Release Date: Friday June 4, 2010
Knight and Day
Female Lead: Cameron Diaz (The Box, My Sister's Keeper, There's Something About Mary)
Male Lead: Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible, Vanilla Sky, The Firm)
Plot: Two strangers thrown together and end up constantly on the run
Release Date: Friday June 25, 2010
The Adjustment Bureau
Female Lead: Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria, The Wolfman (2010), The Devil Wears Prada)
Male Lead: Matt Damon (Bourne Trilogy, The Departed, Gerry)
Plot: A chance meeting of a politician & a ballerina lead to mysterious complications
Release Date: Friday September 17, 2010