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Meet cute

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In the genre of romantic comedy film, a Meet Cute is the encounter of two potential romantic partners in unusual circumstances, a comic situation contrived by the filmmakers entirely in order to bring them together. Sometimes used as a verb, "to meet cute," or uncapitalized, "the meet cute," or hyphenated, "the meet-cute."

In many romantic comedies, the potential couple comprises polar opposites, two people of completely different temperaments, situations, social statuses, or all three (It Happened One Night), who would not have anything to do with each other under normal circumstances. The meet cute provides the opportunity.

In movies, the chemistry of the lead characters must be established quickly and firmly. The subject matter of romantic comedies are the obstacles that the potential pair must face before they can acknowledge, fulfill, or consummate their love, and the audience must care enough about the relationship enough to finish the movie. The meet-cute, by virtue of its unusual situation, helps to fix the potential relationship in the viewers' minds, and the spark of the meeting is the impetus by which initial vicissitudes of the developing relationship are overcome.

Certain movies are entirely driven by the meet-cute situation; circumstances throw the couple together for the span of the movie. However, movies in which the situation is the main feature, rather than the romance, are not considered "meet-cutes" (Some Like It Hot).

The use of the meet-cute is less marked in television series and novels, in which there is more time to establish and develop romantic relationships. In situation comedies, relationships are static and meet-cute is not necessary, though flashbacks may recall one (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mad About You) and lighter fare may require it.

Roger Ebert, a film critic, popularized the term in his reviews, and may have originated the term. The culture of the extremely compressed movie pitch meeting may have also contributed to its continuing usage.

While the device seems clichéd today, it may be a victim of the decline of rigid class consciousness in the U.S. since its heyday during the Great Depression. Screwball comedy, which made heavy use of these contrivances, also peaked during this period.

Examples

Canonical examples of meeting cute include:

  • In My Man Godfrey ditzy socialite Irene (Lombard), following her sister to a dump, chooses Godfrey (Powell) to be her "forgotten man" for a charity scavenger hunt
  • It Happened One Night throws runaway heiress Ellie (Colbert) and world-weary ex-reporter Peter (Gable) together in a dispute over the last seat on a bus
  • In Bringing Up Baby nervous paleontologist David (Grant) finds that his golf ball and his car get inadvertently driven by strong-willed heiress Susan (Hepburn)

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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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