Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door (2006)
Forget Barbie Ken wants Crystal
TV movies often get mocked for being cheesy, sentimental and unoriginal but when it comes to romantic comedies they can often been as good if not better that their big screen counter parts. The reason why is that they often have an element which is missing from modern big screen romantic comedies and that is charm, they create this sweet drama, an air of romance and a touch of wamth all of which frequently get ignored by big screen rom-coms which focus purely on the laughs. So that brings me to "Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door" a rather long title for a pleasant romantic comedy which serves up a nice blend of romance and comedy whilst capitalizing on the charm of Santa Catalina Island. It is by no means the most original ideas, rivalling mothers making romance between their children a stressful nightmare but it does what it sets out to do.
Bridget Connolly (Patty Duke) and Betsy Lucas (Shelley Long) may be neighbours but they have been rivals for longer than they care to remember over a feud which they don't really know how it started. But it means than when Bridget's daughter Theresa (Crystal Allen - Maid in Manhattan) returns to Santa Catalina Island and falls for Betsy's son Mark (Ken Marino) it spells trouble as they have to keep their relationship a secret from their mums. But when they decide to tie the knot there is no option but to tell them which leads to stress as both Bridget and Betsy get to work on organizing their wedding, a wedding which was meant to be simple rather than stressful.
"Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door" is a simple romantic comedy which in reality is not so much about Mark and Theresa falling in love but about their mothers and their feuding. What this means is that for the first half of the movie we get the charming romance between Mark and Theresa, the lovely almost fairytale dates mixed with their mothers Bridget and Betsy being arch rivals. It is basically all about one up-manship as they both have Halloween parties, 4th of July parties and so on each trying to out do the other whilst their long suffering husbands amusingly try to keep a low profile knowing that whilst Bridget and Betsy are rivalling each other they will escape their wrath.
This simplicity and to be frank predictability carries on when Mark and Theresa decide to get married and have to tell their mums, the dads already know about their relationship but have kept it quiet for a peaceful life. So now we have them trying to outdo each other when it comes to organizing their children's wedding and turning what was going to be a simple ceremony into something more, something a lot more stressful. Well it is all very obvious and without telling you what happens as Bridget and Betsy go over the top you can guess the emotional turmoil it causes Theresa and Mark.
But the thing about "Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door" is that it gives us a lovely blend of romance and comedy. The whole series of dates may border on being cheesy and fairytale like with Mark taking Theresa flying but they are romantic, well outdoor cinema in a graveyard is sort of romantic. And the humour of Bridget and Betsy not only trying to out do each other but making life stressful maybe predictable but it is old school funny. Throw in the charm and beauty of Santa Catalina Island where they use golf buggies to get about on and the dad's trying to keep out of things and you have a lot of quirky, charming, sweet and cute pleasantry going on.
What is also nice is that everyone has a part to play and are not just making up numbers even Brigid Brannagh and Greg Cromer who play Theresa and Mark's stereotypical friends. But it means that we have the cuteness of Crystal Allen and Ken Marino falling in love as Theresa and Mark as well as the stress of planning a wedding. We get the humour of Patty Duke and Shelley Long being rivals as Bridget and Betsy plus we have Patrick Duffy and Bruce Boxleitner as the husbands who keep a low profile. They all work well together making what are stereotypical characters amusing.
What this all boils down to is that "Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door" is a very nice romantic comedy which manages to deliver both romance and comedy. It isn't the most original of movies, it's not even the most memorable of movies but it is pleasant and a pleasure to watch especially when so many romantic comedies struggle to deliver that blend of romance and comedy.
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