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Subverting the Rom-Com

In Safety Not Guaranteed and Lola Versus, love doesn't mean an insult to the audience's intelligence.

Safety Not Guaranteed, with Aubrey Plaza, Karan Soni and Jake Johnson, is a road-trip rom-com with a light sci-fi spin.
Safety Not Guaranteed, with Aubrey Plaza, Karan Soni and Jake Johnson, is a road-trip rom-com with a light sci-fi spin.

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Safety Not Guaranteed

Rated R. Opens in Houston June 15.

Lola Versus

Rated R. Opens in Houston June 22.

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At the end of the press screening of Lola, a colleague turned to me and said, "I can't tell if that was a genius subversion of a bad romantic comedy or just kinda bad." Personally, I think it starts as the latter, moves into the realm of the former and ends up somewhere in between. But in its cheeky deflation of the happily-ever-after ethos, Lola is ultimately uninterested in pulling off the magic trick of a sincere romance, which is to actually get us to forget the construction of what we're watching and momentarily, at least, believe in the possibility of love between the people on-screen. Ironically, in practice, this intentionally meta movie feels less subversive than Safety Not Guaranteed. Both films assume their viewer is too cool for rom-com school; Lola feeds on that presumed cynicism, while Safety flips it on its head, ambitiously aiming for a transcendence that it almost achieves.

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