Going the Distance, out tomorrow, is a romantic comedy about a couple facing a very common hardship: the difficulties of navigating a long-distance relationship. And in a summer (er, decade) of high-concept rom-coms filled with mistaken identities, bets, lies, and plot twists that, when looked at closely, resemble the works of psychotic criminals, it’s somewhat refreshing to have a movie based on a relatable, quotidian problem. It’s not that we don’t enjoy watching someone discover her husband is actually an assassin (Killers), or finding out that her best friend is actually the father of her child (The Switch), but it’s also nice to watch people stumble through something that actually happens in real life, and maybe — probably most definitely — work their way through it. Frankly, it can make for a much more gratifying taste of wish-fulfillment. So here are our own suggestions for romantic comedies based on other everyday relationship troubles.
The problem: She’s always freezing, he’s always hot. How to reconcile?
The movie: Thermostatic, starring Betty White and Wilford Brimley as an older couple who’ve been through it all, but still can’t agree on the what temperature to keep the condo. In a sad twist, Brimley gets cancer, which leads White to finally keep it a bit colder in the condo for him. It’s a tear-jerker, folks!
The problem: He’s into Manhattan, she’d rather have more space in Brooklyn. What to do?
The movie: Beg, Borough, or Steal. Rachel McAdams and Adam Brody star as a newly married professional couple debating whether to buy, rent, or move out of the city. Special cameos by Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce as dueling, high-powered real-estate agents who, in a funny side plot, also fall in love (and eventually waive their fees!).
The problem: She’s half Jewish, he’s an atheist. How to bring up the kids?
The movie: Keeping Both Faiths, with Ari Graynor and Topher Grace as a couple living together and on the brink of getting engaged; however, she wants to send the kids to Hebrew School, and he’s against organized religion. In the end, and after counseling by a kooky rabbi played by Jerry Stiller, they decide to bring a bit of both of their own traditions to the child-raising process, promising very confused (but liberal!) children.
The problem: She’s into modern minimalism, he’s into early twentieth-century antiques. How to decorate?
The movie: Hit the Decorator, starring Kristin Davis and Mark Ruffalo as a well-off couple who’ve just bought a a two-bedroom on the Upper East Side, but can’t agree on how to decorate it. Martin Short appears as their eccentric decorator-cum-couples therapist, and, in the end, they decide to bring a bit of both their styles to the final look of the apartment. This all happens right before the real-estate crash, however, so in the end, the movie’s both a rom-com and a tragedy. They end up losing millions.
The problem: One’s a vegetarian, one loves meat. What to serve?
The movie: Swap Meat, starring Jennifer Aniston as a vegan and Matthew McConaughey as a steak lover. Opposites attract, of course, and this movie follows Aniston and McConaughey’s characters from their first blind date (at a steakhouse!) through their rocky courtship, in which both try to convert the other to their way of eating. Chris Rock plays McConaughey’s best friend, who eventually convinces him to cut down on meat for the sake of his relationship. In turn, his cholesterol also goes down to a normal level, and an early heart attack is averted. It’s romantic and uplifting!