Romantic comedy films (abbreviated as rom coms or romcoms, and sometimes known as chick flicks) are films with light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as a true love able to surmount most obstacles. Romantic comedy films are a sub-genre of comedy films as well as of romance films and often have elements of screwball comedies and stoner comedies. Romantic comedy can also be used to describe some television series.
The basic plot of a romantic comedy is that two protagonists, usually a man and a woman, meet, part ways due to an argument or other obstacle, then ultimately reunite. Sometimes the two protagonists meet and become involved initially, then must confront challenges to their union. Sometimes the two protagonists are hesitant to become romantically involved because they believe that they do not like each other, because one of them already has a partner, or because of social pressures. However, the screenwriters leave clues that suggest that the characters are, in fact, attracted to each other and that they would be a good love match. The protagonists often separate or seek time apart to sort out their feelings or deal with the external obstacles to their being together.
While the two protagonists are separated, one or both of them usually realizes that they are ideal for each other, or that they are in love with each other. Then, after one of the two makes some spectacular effort to find the other person and declare their love, (this is sometimes called the grand gesture), or due to an astonishing coincidental encounter, the two meet again. Then, perhaps with some comic friction or awkwardness, they declare their love for each other and the film ends happily. The couple does not, however, have to marry, or live together "happily ever after". The ending of a romantic comedy is meant to affirm the primary importance of the love relationship in its protagonists' lives, even if they physically separate in the end (e.g. Shakespeare in Love, Roman Holiday).
There are many variations on this basic plotline. Sometimes, instead of the two lead characters ending up in each other's arms, another love match will be made between one of the principal characters and a secondary character (e.g., My Best Friend's Wedding and My Super Ex-Girlfriend). Alternatively, the film may be a rumination on the impossibility of love, as in Woody Allen's film Annie Hall. The basic format of a romantic comedy film can be found in much earlier sources, such as Shakespeare plays like Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
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