Romantic comedies have a bad reputation – but we forget that wasn’t always the case – the genre includes classic such as His Girl Friday, Annie Hall and When Harry Met Sally (to name a few). These are all films that have achieved a great critical and commercial kudos – so when did it all go so horribly wrong? It’s hard to say, probably around the time Jennifer Lopez hit her stride as a box office star and before Katherine Heigl battered the genre into the ground with a slew of woeful chick flicks. The reputation of the genre is now in tatters, so much so that there have been few high-profile entries into rom-com territory in recent years and even Matthew McConaughey has turned his shirtless back on the world of saccharine romance. This preamble takes us nicely to Not Another Happy Ending.
Doctor Who star Karen Gillan tries to spread her cinematic wings after leaving the Timelord behind with this light and breezy entry into the ‘Romance’ section of your latest DVD (or digital download) retailer. It doesn’t reenergise the genre, but it’s a decent enough flick to pass a rainy afternoon. The plot of this Glasgow-set film is all fluff and puff, following the will-they-won’t-they relationship between a publisher (Stanley Weber) and his star writer (Gillan – clearly a graduate from the Goldie Hawn school of kook) as he tries to ‘unblock’ her in order to meet contractual agreements.
Director John McKay and writer David Solomons have constructed a film that entertains but it doesn’t really make a lasting impression. The film’s Glasgow setting offers something different visually and the film can’t be condemned for looking bad. However, they try to cram in a bit too much plot in the first act, selling themselves short character-wise. This means that Gillan and Weber’s attraction feels more like a plot device than something organic.
Not Another Happy Ending doesn’t try to do anything radically new within the confines of the romantic genre. It clearly needs a re-invention, but this Brit-flick doesn’t take the chance to do something brave. Is that a criticism? Yes, but sometimes all you need is a film that feels comforting and that rides along on conventions. Not Another Happy Ending is that film. It won’t join the ranks of great romantic comedies but it doesn’t belong to be lumped with the genre’s worst offenders either.