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The Rewrite – In Cinemas Wednesday – The best rom-com movie collaborations

07 October 2014

Once upon a time, screenwriter Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) was on top of the world – a Golden Globe Award and a hit movie to his name, a beautiful wife and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of wit and charm.  But that was fifteen years ago: now, he’s divorced, broke, approaching fifty and hasn’t written a hit film in years.  Luckily, his agent has a job for him – a university in the quiet town of Binghamton is looking for someone to teach a course in screenwriting, and with an empty wallet as his motivation, Keith can’t say no.  Hoping to give minimal attention to his duties and focus on writing a new script, his attitude slowly begins to turn when he meets Holly (Marisa Tomei). A single mum working two jobs to earn her degree, the pair find themselves connected by their mutual need for a second chance.

As Hugh Grant and director Marc Lawrence collaborate for the fourth time on The Rewrite, we take a look at some of the best rom-com duos, from Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson to Garry Marshall and Julia Roberts...

Hugh Grant and Marc Lawrence

It was in 2002’s Two Weeks Notice, starring Sandra Bullock, that Hugh Grant and Marc Lawrence collaborated for the first time. Grant played reckless billionaire bad-boy George Wade, who falls for his Chief Counsel after she decides to stop working for him when his playboy tendencies get out of control. The film was a huge success at the box office and began to cement Hugh as King of the rom-com. Grant and Lawrence again joined forces for 2007’s Music and Lyrics, which saw Grant star as a washed-up former pop legend who forms a relationship with a young aspiring songwriter, played by Drew Barrymore. Lawrence wrote and directed the film, in which Grant did all of his own singing under the coaching of ABC’s Martin Fry. A combination of rom-com royalty, Did You Hear About the Morgans? was yet another Lawrence-Grant collaboration, this time also taking Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker. Parker and Grant starred as a successful Manhattan couple on the brink of divorce when they witness the murder of a client and are placed under a witness protection program in Wyoming.

Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis

Not short of partners in the rom-com circuit, Hugh Grant has also collaborated with writer Richard Curtis on four of his best-known films. Curtis penned the script for Four Weddings and a Funeral, the film that flung Hugh into the limelight and won him a BAFTA for best actor. They would later team up in 1999 on Notting Hill, which was to become the highest grossing British film released that year. The film follows two characters, Will (Hugh), a bookshop owner who falls for Hollywood superstar Anna (Julia Roberts) when they have a chance encounter. Two years later, both Hugh and Richard worked together on Bridget Jones’ Diary, based on the book of the same name by Helen Fielding. Hugh played caddish bad boy Daniel Cleaver, the object of Bridget’s (Renee Zellweger) affections. The 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy Love Actually saw Hugh and Richard collaborate again, this time with Richard directing the film as well as writing the script. Hugh took on the role of the Prime Minister of England, falling for one of his new members of staff (played by Martine McCutcheon). The film won multiple BAFTAs and remains one of the most successful rom-coms to this day.

Garry Marshall and Julia Roberts

The actress-director duo behind the most successful rom-com of all time, Julia Roberts and Garry Marshall have teamed up on more than one occasion. They initially joined forces for Pretty Woman, widely regarded as the number one romantic comedy. The film sees successful businessman Edward (played by Richard Gere) hire a Hollywood Boulevard prostitute (Roberts) as a girlfriend and plus one to social events. To this day it is one of the most financially successful entries in the romantic comedy genre. Gere, Roberts and Marshall also collaborated on the 1999 rom-com Runaway Bride, a story about a woman who receives unwanted tabloid fame when she leaves three different men at the altar. There were initially plans for Runaway Bride to be a sequel to Pretty Woman, however Garry rewrote the storyline. In 2010, Julia Roberts starred in Garry’s latest rom-com Valentine’s Day, also starring Ashton Kutcher, Patrick Dempsey and Anne Hathaway, following a group of interlinked characters and their struggles with love.

Dennis Dugan and Adam Sandler

Perhaps one of the longest-running but lesser known actor/director duos, Dugan and Sandler have been working on comedies together since Happy Gilmore in 1996. The film followed the story of Gilmore (Sandler) an unsuccessful ice hockey player who discovers he has a talent for golf whilst falling for the team’s PR director. Dugan and Sandler developed the character of Gilmore together, basing him on one of Sandler’s childhood friends. Much recently, the pair collaborated alongside rom-com queen Jennifer Aniston in the 2011 film Just Go With It, where Aniston plays the best friend to Danny Maccabee (Sandler) but pretends to be his wife to help him get the girl he really wants. Dugan was also behind Sandler’s comedy hit Grown Ups, which follows five friends on a wild journey when they are reunited after decades apart.

Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson

Once claiming she would “sew the hems of his pants if he asked me to,” Johansson has long been seen as a muse for Allen, first collaborating with him in the 2005 drama Match Point. She played Nola, a woman who has an affair with her boyfriend’s brother in law. Kate Winslet was initially cast as Nola but resigned a week before filming was due to begin, and so the character was rewritten as an American and Johansson was subsequently cast. They were to team up again in Scoop, a rom-com/murder-mystery where Johansson played an American journalism student investigating a murderer called the Tarot Card Reader. Most recently the pair collaborated on the 2008 rom-com Vicky Christina Barcelona, a story of two women who travel to Spain to discover themselves and begin new relationships. Both Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona are regarded as two of Allen’s greatest films.

Thomas Shadyac and Jim Carrey

When Tom Shadyac took on a then unknown Jim Carrey to star in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective alongside Courteney Cox, it was the start of a partnership which would go on to collaborate in many more comedy films. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the 1994 cult classic about a Miami-based private investigator, launched Jim into the spotlight and made him one of the most sought-after comedy actors. In 1997, the duo released Liar Liar, the story of Fletcher (played by Carrey); a career-focused lawyer who is left unable to lie for 24 hours after his five-year-old son makes a birthday wish. The film was the second of three Shadyac/Carrey collaborations and did extremely well at the box office. The third film, Bruce Almighty, was released in 2003 to rave reviews. It starred Jim Carrey as Bruce, a man who is given the chance to be God for a week when he loses his faith. Jennifer Aniston played his girlfriend, Grace, and the film enjoyed widespread success.

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