In the film ‘Picture Perfect’ -1997-Glenn Gordon Caron, the first seven minutes show typical motifs of the comedy genre and it clearly shows how the film’s narrative might develop. Comedies are light-hearted dramas, designed to amuse and provoke laughter. In general there are two types of comedy, slapstick and dialogue based. Slapstick is comedy with broad, aggressive, physical action, including harmless or painless cruelty and violence, horseplay, and visual jokes. Dialogue based comedy is comedy of ideas. Dialogue including witty repartee and jokes is used to create the comedy.
There are main conventions in the comedy genre which most comedies use these are: the use of stereotypes such as in the film ‘Pillow Talk’-1959-Michael Gordon. He uses the stereotype of the virginal Jan. The use of puns, plays on words and jokes is another convention of comedy, this convention is present in the film ‘His Girl Friday’-1940-Howard Hawks where Walter Burns comments that Hildy’s fiance Bruce Baldwin looks like Ralph Bellamy the actor – a joke because Bellamy was playing the part of Bruce. Also the use of physical comedy is another convention of comedy e. g.
The Gold Rush’-1925-Chaplin where the tramp cooks, sits down and eats a boot for his thanksgiving meal. Another convention of comedies is to observe the shortcomings and frustrations of life, providing the audience with merriment. Watching comedies can provide the audience a brief escape from day to day life. Romantic comedy and screwball comedy are both part of the comedy genre. Screwball comedy is mainly dialogue based and contains ingredients from the romance genre, whereas romantic comedy has conventions of dialogue based comedy and slapstick, it also is a hybrid genre as it has conventions of the romance genre.
In my chosen extract we first meet our protagonist Kate she is in her living room with a man. We hear soft music and when we see Kate and her beau the lighting is soft and romantic. From this we can see that the film will fall into some sort of romantic genre as this is a typical convention of romantic films a man and woman together in a romantic place hugging and kissing. The comedy aspect appears when Kate kicks out her beau. We hear humorous dialogue from the man saying he doesn’t want to wear a condom because ‘it won’t be as good’.
Sex is a complex and uncomfortable issue but it can be dealt with because it is in the safe environment of the film world. This is another important convention in the comedy genre. Kate the next day receives a phone call and without saying hello or asking who it is she says ‘hey mom do me a favour and don’t fix me up again’. This character is the stereotypical ‘well meaning interfering mother’ recognisable without even seeing her on screen, just by dialogue. This stereotype highlights that the movie is clearly part of the comedy genre.
From these first few minutes we have already discovered that this film will be a romantic comedy. With the opening credits we see Kate walking down a busy New York street stopping over to look at jewellery on a stall. This busy city setting is very common in romantic comedies, the place where lovers meet against all odds for example ‘One Fine Day’, ‘Serendipity’ and ‘The Mirror has Two Faces’. The jewellery is also a convention of the romantic genre as jewellery is usually the romantic present given by men to women in this film genre.
We then see another convention of the romantic genre the confidant Darcy O’ Neil, Kate’s friend at work that she confides in. Throughout the film she is the one who shares all of Kate’s troubles. We also meet Sam when we first see him Kate is looking at him passionately. Again this suggests a certain genre and enforces it is a romance, as Kate is attracted to Sam. Darcy’s reaction to this is to make fun and tease Kate this creates comedy. Jennifer Aniston is a typical romantic comedy heroine and her casting tells us a lot about the genre of film and thus what sort of narrative it will have.
Within the first seven minutes we learn that the film will be a typical romantic comedy. When we watch the first seven minutes of the film we get an idea of what the film will be about. The types of characters we see on screen suggest reinforce the narrative. The protagonist is Kate. the audience knows this because we follow things from her point of view. We also know the antagonist is Sam as he is stopping our protagonist from being happy as Kate is attracted to him and he turns her down.
The confidant’ and ‘the well meaning interfering mother’ push the narrative of the film forward, as they are the helpers of Kate by giving her confidence in dating and introducing Kate to new men. We start to guess that Kate is searching for Mr Right because of her constant man trouble for example in the first sequence, but as the extract is only seven minutes we do not meet all the characters of the film yet so we are not absolutely certain who Mr Right is.
Looking at Sam and the way Kate admires him hints that Kate is in search for Mr Right and the rest of the film will be about this search. Also in the film because Kate was looking at the ‘Upsize your job’ poster on the bus it seems to suggest Kate will get a promotion (which she does- but in a comic way). Although the opening seven minutes of the film doesn’t fully establish the narrative of the film we do learn about the genre of the film and as it is a romantic comedy, we can guess what will happen next in the film.