Overthinking Romantic Comedies An exclusive post from the Subtraction.com newsletter

Things got a bit long-winded in today’s round-up of movies I watched in September when I dug into my feelings on Asian-American breakthrough films “Crazy Rich Asians” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” They’re complicated, to say the least. It’s as good an illustration as any of the tension between just being a movie fan and being, well, a wanna-be film critic.

I don’t pretend that anyone really pays much attention to my rankings on film, but the exercise of thinking analytically about what I watch—despite the fact that there’s hardly any professional relevance in doing that—is deeply satisfying to me. And yet once in a long while I do wish I could just simply watch and enjoy a movie, without having to compose a pretend review in my head. That’s the case with these two movies; I very much wanted them to be so rousingly winning that I’d be swept away from my normal tendencies to over-analyze. Didn’t happen, I’m sad to say.

By the way, if you want to watch romantic comedies that require no intellectual gymnastics in order to be appreciated, I highly recommend the other two films I mentioned: “Holiday” and “The Awful Truth.” Both are from the late 1930s, a golden age of romantic comedies when their semantics and politics—there I go again. To put it more succinctly: they were romantic comedies that were actually romantic and actually comedic.