From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy

Dey St. Feb. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9780063026292. $27.99. FILM
Entertainment writer Meslow’s first book is a delightful and humorous love letter to the romantic comedy flick. Meslow’s study sticks to a specific set of criteria—movies made between 1989 and the early 2020s that achieved critical and commercial success, were influential, and revealed something unique about culture or the romantic comedy genre. He explores 16 films, many of which spawned sequels or “spiritual successors.” The book begins with the 1989 meeting between Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron that eventually led to When Harry Met Sally and launched a wave of rom-coms in the ’90s. Meslow also provides tantalizing tales of script overhauls (Pretty Woman was originally a darker tale that involved drug addiction), casting controversies (the choice to cast the American Renée Zellweger as the British Bridget Jones), and tensions between costars (Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz apparently had a rocky relationship on the set of My Best Friend’s Wedding). Meslow notes that Hollywood has been slow to offer more inclusive and racially diverse romantic comedies, but he argues that the commercial success of movies like 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians (the first Hollywood film since The Joy Luck Club to feature a cast made up primarily of people of Chinese descent) illustrates that audiences are eager for movies that reflect a diversity of experiences.
VERDICT Fans of the popular but often under-appreciated genre of romantic comedy will appreciate Meslow’s book, which offers insight on the development of landmark films and how some of Hollywood’s biggest names launched their careers.
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