bridget jones

9 tired old romantic movie tropes we’re 100% done with

Posted by for Film

Look, we love romantic movies as much as the next person, but the year is 2021. Which means, yes, it’s time to do away with these tired clichés… 

1) The big movie makeover

The only reason women wear glasses in romantic movies, it seems, is to remove them during their transformation scene – rather than, y’know, to actually see. Ditto their wild and untamed curls; you better believe these will be straightened to death in the mid-movie makeover (and in every scene thereafter).

With just those two changes, viewer, our heroine will become a) absolutely unrecognisable to everyone around her and b) utterly irresistible to all potential love interests, despite them never noticing our poor bespectacled gal before. 

Glasses and curls = invisibility cloak status, apparently. Yawn.

2) The interrupted kiss

Their lips are kissing distance apart, but a loud noise – sometimes signalling the arrival of an obnoxious antagonist, sometimes just a window blowing shut – startles our would-be lovers and puts an end to all their smooching plans. And, rather than laugh it off and follow through on aforementioned smooching plans (like any normal human would), they laugh and coquettishly pretend that, hey, they never intended to kiss in the first place.

3) … and the ‘shut up and kiss me’ kiss

We’ve seen it countless times; our heroine will be mid-rant, and suddenly her love interest will grab her and plant a huge kiss on her before she can say everything that’s on her mind. And then, rather than call this out, she’ll lean hard into the smooch and swoon in his arms. Because being silenced is sexy, we guess.

4) The jerk-to-hero concept

Bill Murray puts down a pitcher of coffee with Andie MacDowell in a scene from the film 'Groundhog Day', 1993. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
Bill Murray is aeful, just awful, to Andie MacDowell in Groundhog Day.

How many terrible, terrible, terrible guys have we seen get a free pass on all their shitty behaviour and get the girl of their dreams? Too many, quite frankly. And we’re done with it.

5) The over-the-top romantic gesture

Is it really so romantic to stand outside your best friend’s house and proposition his new wife using large handwritten cards? Or hold a boombox up outside her house until she comes to the window? Or hire a private investigator to look up your high school girlfriend? Or, like, catfish her via an online dating site (yes, we’re looking at you, You’ve Got Mail)? Or just endlessly pursue her, despite the fact she’s politely informed you that she’s just not that into you? 

The answer, pals, is no, nay, and never. So let’s stop normalising this creepy AF behaviour, yeah?

6) … and the rush to the airport

Can we just admit that airport security is a thing, and stop having all these characters dashing onto airplanes sans tickets to declare their undying love? It’s happened so many times at this point that it’s lost all sense of excitement, to be honest. Plus, while it’s not a movie, Friends’ Ross has forever ruined this trope for us with his selfish decision to stop Rachel flying to Paris and taking the job of her dreams. 

And yes, you better believe he made it into our roundup of toxic onscreen couples for doing exactly this. Sorry not sorry.

7) The lack of communication

It happened in Notting Hill, when Anna decided that Will had sold her out to the media. It happened in Bridget Jones’s Diary: The Edge Of Reason, when Bridget believed Mark was having an affair with his assistant, Rebecca, based on nothing at all. And it almost happened in The Holiday, when Amanda snatched up Graham’s phone and assumed the texts from his two daughters were from other women he was sleeping with.

Yes, obstacles to a movie romance are necessary for a good story, but far too many scriptwriters have lazily relied on snap judgements and misunderstandings to keep our characters apart. Do people not not talk things over before they call things a day IRL? Because this writer suspects that they probably do.

8) The fake-to-real love interest

From Pretty Woman to The Wedding Date, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before to The Proposal, we’ve seen countless movie relationships blossom from… well, from a bed of lies and deception. And, when there’s money/contractual agreements involved, it adds an unhappy new power imbalance to proceedings, too.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before: Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) and Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) fell in love after a fake relationship in the first film.
Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) and Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) fall in love after a fake relationship in To All The Boys I Loved Before.

Let’s just say we’re done with this one, OK?

9) The neverending on-off cycle

How many times are Sex And The City’s Carrie and Big going to call it a day before they admit that their relationship just isn’t working? Ditto Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy? Ditto pretty much every movie couple who’s had a sequel made about them? Writers need to learn to deal with conflict within a marriage or relationship at some point, rather than constantly break a couple up and get them back together again. Not only is it unrealistic, but it also creates this unhealthy idea that some couples are just meant to be – even when, you know, they’re incredibly toxic for one another.

And, to quote Rita Mae Brown, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Fingers crossed, then, that the bevy of romantic movies still due to hit our screens do away with the tropes above and give us something new, inspiring, and unpredictable. 

After all, isn’t that what love is all about?

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Images: Getty/Netflix

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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