Rom coms where the love interest is introduced later?
January 22, 2013 3:39 PM   Subscribe

The standard format for a romantic comedy has both key characters introduced very early in the script/movie -- say, in the first ten pages/minutes. I'm looking for examples of romantic comedies where one of the romantic leads is introduced later in the movie.

I'm looking for examples of romantic comedies along the following lines:

(1) Examples of romantic comedies where one character is introduced early, and the other romantic partner is introduced later ... say, in the last half of the movie?

(2) Examples of romcoms where a love interest is not introduced in the first ten minutes/pages, and is still introduced somewhat later but not as late as the last half.

posted by allnamesaretaken to Media & Arts (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I hate to write anything because I hate spoilers but the French film Heartbreaker.
posted by beccaj at 3:45 PM on January 22, 2013

Joe Versus the Volcano? Patricia doesn't get introduced until about halfway through if I remember correctly. Though Meg Ryan is in it from the beginning as other characters.
posted by Garm at 3:47 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. Couldn't swear to it being after the halfway mark but must be pretty near.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

That does not exist.

Certainly not for an actual romantic comedy -- can sometimes happen in a film that has a romantic element or love interest, but isn't a romantic comedy by genre. I guess? Even then, when you write a screenplay, you're expected to introduce all your major characters within the first 30 pages or so.

I recently saw Silver Linings Playbook, which, in the cinema, felt like a pretty late introduction of the love interest. But if I were reading the script, my guess is that it happens before page 25.
posted by Sara C. at 3:51 PM on January 22, 2013

If you want an example from TV, 8 seasons into How I Met Your Mother and we haven't met the female love interest yet.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:54 PM on January 22, 2013 [7 favorites]

Reading plot summaries, it sounds like Miss Pettigrew isn't a romantic comedy, per se, and my guess is that the love interest in Heartbreaker shows up in the first act, since her father hiring Alex & co to break up her relationship seems to be the inciting incident of the plot.
posted by Sara C. at 3:55 PM on January 22, 2013

I don't know from pages, but "40 Year Old Virgin."
posted by rhizome at 4:00 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The John Corbett character is introduced pretty late, but I'm not exactly sure when.
posted by TrarNoir at 4:05 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

you're expected to introduce all your major characters within the first 30 pages or so.

In other words, Act one. While it is certainly a good structural practice to introduce all of the characters early, to say "this doesn't exist" is absurd and flatly incorrect. People violate rules of structure all the time, and there are romantic comedy structures that deviate from the standard "meet cute."

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is just one example of a movie that is clearly a romantic comedy by any reasonable definition, but where the first act deals with main character's breakup and depression, before he ever meets his eventual love.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:08 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Definitely, Maybe. I think.
posted by kjs4 at 4:10 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

TiMER might fit the bill, although it's a little complicated since there are two (eventual) love interests. The first guy is introduced early on, the second guy a little later. The first guy is the primary romantic interest and source of drama for almost the entire movie, but the guy who ends up being the main character's "soulmate" doesn't even meet her until the very end. Up until that point, he'd been happily dating her best friend, and there was little indication the established alpha and beta couples wouldn't just work everything out and live happily ever after (except of course for the weird sci-fi deus ex machina hanging over their heads the entire time). The film ends on a bittersweet and ambiguous note.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:12 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

There was a mockumentary I saw called 20 Dates which starts as a film-maker documenting a series of bad dates. I think it sticks to that premise over the half-way point before he goes on a good date.
posted by RobotHero at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2013

I dunno about Definitely, Maybe. They're all introduced as possible love interests early on, you just don't know which he ends up with.

I think you might have better luck with asking about fiction where it's not as apparent right off the bat as to who the winning love interest is, such as TiMER. It's bad writing to not have the winner be onscreen at all until halfway through the movie, but it's more acceptable to have someone turn out to be a stealth dark horse. But that said, I am stumped as all hell as to what would be an example.

Okay, I thought of one: Walk The Line. We know that Johnny Cash was fond of June Carter on the radio as a kid, but he doesn't meet her IRL for quite awhile in the movie--maybe around 20-30 minutes in.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2013

drjimmy - there's playing fast and loose with the "rules", and then there's doing things movies don't do.

It's pretty much unheard of to have a true romantic comedy feature film where the love interest isn't introduced in any way until the second half of the film.

All the films mentioned here that might apply probably don't -- they most likely have longish first acts due to the need to establish a more complicated dynamic for the main character and introduce a love interest towards the end of that longish first act rather than very early on, as would be more traditional.

I think a film where it ultimately doesn't work out between the two lovers doesn't count as "not meeting the love interest until the end of the movie" -- they met in the beginning, but it just wasn't meant to be. Same with movies that introduce the character early on (like you do for all major characters) but they don't get together until later.

Quite a few examples mentioned here actually do introduce their love interest during the first act, they just do it in a subtle way. For instance in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the guy she ends up with is the very same guy who inspired her to get out of her shell in the first place. They just don't have a "meet cute" until later.
posted by Sara C. at 4:21 PM on January 22, 2013

Oh, wait: the Mame/Auntie Mame movies. I think it takes awhile to bring in her eventual husband, and then later on there's a crappier love interest.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:21 PM on January 22, 2013

In North by Northwest the love interest isn't introduced until page 67, or a little further than a third in. I guess whether it's a romantic comedy or not is debatable, but certainly you could consider it one.
posted by phoenixy at 4:23 PM on January 22, 2013

the Mame/Auntie Mame movies.

Not a romantic comedy. At least the first one isn't.

I mean, I guess it's sort of structured like a romcom, but between the nephew and his aunt? Maybe? But definitely not a standard romantic comedy at all.

North By Northwest

This is not a romantic comedy.
posted by Sara C. at 4:25 PM on January 22, 2013

A lot of these movies don't fulfill criteria (1), but they fulfill criteria (2).

It's been a long time since I saw the Meg Ryan vehicle Addicted to Love, but IIRC she isn't seen for a long while and isn't introduced for at least 15 minutes. Which would fit criteria (2).
posted by muddgirl at 4:28 PM on January 22, 2013

About A Boy? I seem to remember the female love interest showing up pretty late.
posted by fshgrl at 4:28 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is not a romantic comedy.

[I realize you are trying to be helpful, but please let the asker referee other folks' answers for criteria as they set fit and do not volunteer to do this yourself.]

posted by cortex at 4:29 PM on January 22, 2013

Does Amelie count as a romantic comedy? Nino shows up at 40 minutes in. The movie runs two hours.
posted by mochapickle at 4:30 PM on January 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

posted by pazazygeek at 4:32 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

For your first criteria, (500 Days of) Summer. It bills itself as an anti-romcom, but it follows most of the rules of one. The female lead finds her romantic partner somewhere between halfway and three quarters through the film. The male lead, after finally getting over the female lead, finds his in the last five minutes of the film.
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:37 PM on January 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

In Move Over, Darling, we don't meet James Garner until 22 minutes in, in the second act. (The main characters are married, but the wife had been lost at sea and declared dead. Hilarity ensues.)
posted by mochapickle at 4:41 PM on January 22, 2013

Bridesmaids was my first thought too.

This is a stretch, but in Love Actually, we don't meet the kid's love interest until the big concert, though we know she exists early on. His dad also meets his (assumed) love interest after the concert, but that's almost a throwaway moment.
posted by natabat at 4:44 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ooh, What a Way to Go! has a sequence of love interests (the premise being that the protagonist's husbands keep dying in ironic and humorous ways) and each one is pretty much kept to his own segment. I don't know if that's what you're looking for, though, as the individual segments themselves are fairly traditionally structured.
posted by phoenixy at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2013

I love this question! Last one for now: In The Apartment, we don't meet Fran until minute 16, well past the point of the setup of CC Baxter lending out his apartment. So that would be Example 2 as well.
posted by mochapickle at 4:50 PM on January 22, 2013

I don't know if you will be able to find a copy of it, but in Yves Robert's delightful Alexandre le bienheureux (1968), the love interest is not introduced until quite late in the film.
posted by ubiquity at 4:57 PM on January 22, 2013

Le rayon vert ('The Green Flash', France, 1986)
It has been a long time since I saw this, so I'm not even sure that it is a comedy, but the love interest appears quite late in the final reel.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:28 PM on January 22, 2013

Under the Tuscan Sun.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:19 PM on January 22, 2013

Oh! While You Were Sleeping. 27 whole minutes alone with Sandra Bullock's original nose before Bill Pullman and his haircut walk through the door in the second act.
posted by mochapickle at 6:43 PM on January 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

In Moonstruck, Loretta (Cher) doesn't meet Ronny Cammareri (Nick Cage), until a good 20- 30 minutes into the movie - maybe even longer.
posted by kbar1 at 7:26 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is Sleepless in Seattle cheating here?
posted by lunasol at 8:48 PM on January 22, 2013

Would Mighty Aphrodite count? From what I recall, Linda doesn't meet her true love until the very end.
posted by princeoftheair at 11:03 PM on January 22, 2013

Definitely, maybe

The premise of the movie is "how I met your mother" and the eventual love interest does not appear immediately.

I feel so cheap.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:59 AM on January 23, 2013

I feel like About a Boy would fit. I think the central relationship is Will and the little kid, but it gets very romantic comedy when Will meets Rachel Weisz' character.
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 AM on January 23, 2013

Midnight in Paris
posted by galvanized unicorn at 2:32 PM on January 23, 2013

The Baxter is somewhat a send-up of traditional romcoms, so it's sort of appropriate that Michelle Williams doesn't come in right away; maybe it's earlier than I remember, but there has to be time to set up the "wrong person" first.
posted by bah213 at 9:31 AM on January 27, 2013

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