Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Subscribe To Empire Today
Save money and get 12 issues for only £25
Feature
The 7 Romantic Comedy Movie Poster Clichés
If you thought the movie was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet...

submit to reddit

Looking at the likes of Morning Glory and The Dilemma’s posters, you can’t help but sigh and wish they’d done something more original. They’re just so… generic. You feel like you’ve seen them before – and that’s because you have, and we’re here to prove it. From the back-to-back pose to ‘the lean’, not forgetting the park bench one-sheet and the attack of the giant heads, there seem to be a very small number of concepts permitted for rom-com posters... and they're all here. Unless we've inadvertently missed a cliché – in which case, let us know in the comment box below, there’s a good chap.

WORDS ALASTAIR PLUMB
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  1 of 7 Next

Cliché #1: Back-To-Back

Pretty Woman (1990)
 EXAMPLE 1 
Pretty Woman (1990)
Ah, Pretty Woman, the king of the back-to-back cheeky romantic comedy movie poster. By our reckoning, it was this little one-sheet that kicked off the whole look, and because of this, Marshall, Gere and Roberts should be ever-so-slightly ashamed. Or smug that they got in there before Intolerable Cruelty ruined it all. Either / or, really.
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (2009)
 EXAMPLE 2 
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (2009)
As any romantic comedy-loving fool knows, Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past is loosely based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. And as anyone with eyes knows, its poster is loosely based on Pretty Woman's, with Richard Gere's tie swapped for Matthew McConaughey's scarf, and, you know, Jennifer Garner not being a hooker and stuff. Plus, the photos on the wall (another classic rom-com poster trope) echo the 'The Three Floaty Faces' cliché. But more on that later…

Four Christmases (2008)
 EXAMPLE 3 
Four Christmases (2008)
Taking the whole wrapped-up-in-ribbons thing to its illogical conclusion, the Four Christmases' poster plays with the fact that Reese Witherspoon ain't that tall and Vince Vaughn ain't that small. Plus, presents are Christmassy, and red and white as a theme is very, very, very romantic comedy poster.
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
 EXAMPLE 4 
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
Another red and white number here, plus a crossed-arms-frowny-face-contrast pairing, AND a heart motif. It's as if The Brothers Coen were so desperate to point out this was a commercial rom com number they just took as many poster clichés as possible and mixed them up in a big, critics-dividing pot. And had George Clooney pull a face. For some reason.

How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days (2003)
 EXAMPLE 5 
How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003)
Matthew McConaughey, as others have pointed out before, is not afraid of a good lean on a movie poster, having done it against a tree, Elizabeth Hurley and Sarah Jessica Parker. Here, he's doing his leaning thing with Kate Hudson, perfectly combining the leaning cliché with the back-to-back cliché. Kate whacks in a crossed-arms-frowny-face too, and Matthew does a tiny-shoulder-shrug-plus-hands-in-pockets manoeuvre, just for good measure. Hell, we almost like it.
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
 EXAMPLE 6 
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
Look back at How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days. Then back to this. Female lead: crossed-arms-frowny-face. Male lead: tiny-shoulder-shrug-plus-hands-in-pockets. And, for some reason, they seem to be floating on water, Jesus-stylee. AND, (and this is a big, very important 'and' here) THEY FORGET THE APOSTROPHE. What. A. Clanger.

Killers (2010)
 EXAMPLE 7 
Killers (2010)
This is a rare poster, admittedly, with an alternative title, so maybe it doesn't really count, but it's so goddamn generic we couldn't not put it in. Also, do not watch this movie. Seriously, don't. Don't, don't, don't.
Run Fatboy Run (2008)
 EXAMPLE 8 
Run Fatboy Run (2008)
A German poster here, but of note because it highlights the Photoshopping shamelessness of foreign markets taking other movies' art assets and doing whatever they bloody want with them. In other Run Fatboy Run posters, it's obvious these two aren't standing together. For starters, why is Thandie Newton digging her high heel into Simon's leg? Not very nice Thandie. Not very nice at all.

The Ugly Truth (2010)
 EXAMPLE 9 
The Ugly Truth (2010)
Red on a white background? Check. Heart motif? Check. Jaunty leaning a-again? Hells yes. But the thing they decided to add to mix it up a bit? A wall. Not a real wall mind; just a big black line. We prefer the toilet-gender-signs version, to be honest.
Milenge Milenge (2010)
 EXAMPLE 10 
Milenge Milenge (2010)
Out the same year as The Ugly Truth, this Indian interpretation of Serendipity does the exact same leaning trick with a wall, but adds in the tiny-shoulder-shrug-plus-hands-in-pockets manoeuvre and crossed-arms-frowny-face because, you know, that's just what you do.

Life Or Something Like It (2002)
 EXAMPLE 11 
Life Or Something Like It (2002)
GOOD LORD ANGIE'S FACE IS HUGE. This poster doesn't do Edward Burns's ego any favours, but it does, somehow, manage to do a back to back number, even if one of the actors' backs is gigantic and their shoulders aren't anywhere near touching. See also cliché #4 'The Giant Heads'.
Laws Of Attraction (2004)
 EXAMPLE 12 
Laws Of Attraction (2004)
This is the mother lode, so expect to see this poster again. First off, it's a back to back; secondly, there's leaning; and thirdly, it's on a bench. And there's some crossed-arms-frowny-face action going on! This is it! We've reached total rom-com-ocity! There are so many clichés here that they almost cancel each other out and become original. But not quite.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
 
1 of 7
Next

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.

Your Comments

1 Manhattan?
Are they not sitting on a park bench in Manhattan, it's a bit far away but they are definitely on one More

Posted by edjones95 on Saturday October 22, 2011, 17:39

2 Bendy Ben
Is it just me or has Ben Affleck suddenly gone all Mr Fantastic in the poster for Forces of Nature? More

Posted by Enzino on Wednesday March 16, 2011, 14:20

3
the accidental husband poster has absaloute crap editing... More

Posted by supernaturalfan93 on Thursday January 27, 2011, 09:40

4 How do they forget the template of two-four faces in horizontal panels?
When I saw this headline on IMDb, I was sure someone would finally be torn into for using the same freaking template for like ten movies. But no! It's the horizontal panel photos with the title in the middle in thin serif font, seen in the following movies, for example: Something's Gotta Give (http://www.imdb.com/media/rm232299776/tt0337741) The Holiday (http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4200108544/tt0457939) I Could Never Be Your Woman (http://www.imdb.com/media/rm998872576/tt0466839) Th is one's remarkably similar: Because I Said So: (http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2412745472/tt0490084) S ame freakin' template! Could you get any lazier about your poster design? It pisses me off. More

Posted by keelover on Thursday January 27, 2011, 05:16

5 Red-on-white
The WORST RomCom trait ever - white background, red fonts. Doing the in-house displays in my work irritates the hang out of me, 'cos I can never put the RomCom posters together as they all look like the same film!! The Ugly Truth, The Rebound, Morning Glory, Love and Other Drugs, the Heartbreak Kid *shudder*, there must just be a 'generic RomCom' button on most studios' Photoshops... More

Posted by GypsyTrash on Wednesday January 26, 2011, 11:57

6
Rom Coms...a bloody waste of space in the film market More

Posted by ronniem on Wednesday January 26, 2011, 09:58

7 What about...
Shallow Hal in the bench department: http://pinartarhan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ amorcego2.jpg More

Posted by Seannybo on Wednesday January 26, 2011, 09:42

8 Excuse Two Weeks' Notice
Like the Run Fatboy Run poster, the Two Weeks' Notice one is not in English, it's Italian. So maybe they don't have the same grasp of apostrophes. More

Posted by Enzino on Wednesday January 26, 2011, 09:11

9 Non-rom-com films that use these cliches
1 - Back to Back: A View to a Kill (original poster), Iron Man 2 2 - Floaty faces: Goodfellas, Wall Street, Saving Private Ryan 3 - Park Bench: Forrest Gump, Good Will Hunting 4 - Giant Faces: Election, No Country for Old Men, Avatar 5 - The Collage: Magnolia, The Truman Show, Donnie Darko, Boogie Nights 6 - Pick Me Up: As Good As It Gets 7 - The Lean: Gone With the Wind, The Persuit of Happyness More

Posted by G MAN on Tuesday January 25, 2011, 23:49

10 Three to Tango
Seen it - is it wrong that kinda totally like it? More

Posted by mebbetheywasinjuns on Tuesday January 25, 2011, 20:35

11 Kevin Connolly must...
... be absolutely MORTIFIED at that shot of him in 'He's Just Not That Into You'. Jesus Christ, look at that face! More

Posted by Concise_Statement on Tuesday January 25, 2011, 20:29

12
To be fair, there aren't THAT money ways to make a poster! More

Posted by jamie325 on Tuesday January 25, 2011, 20:23

13 A few more...
1. White background, wording in two colours (the proposal, the back up plan, the break-up) 2. White background - bold font, narrow font (Date Night, Leap Year, the ugly truth, definitley maybe, made of honour) 3. Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Lopez More

Posted by House_Of_Myrmidon on Tuesday January 25, 2011, 16:50

14 A few more...
1. White background, wording in two colours (the proposal, the back up plan, the break-up) 2. White background - bold font, narrow font (Date Night, Leap Year, the ugly truth, definitley maybe, made of honour) 3. Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Lopez More

Posted by House_Of_Myrmidon on Tuesday January 25, 2011, 16:45

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Hateful Eight - The Story So Far
We delve into the short but tangled history of Quentin Tarantino’s latest

Gallery: Unseen Star Wars Poster Concept Artwork
JW Rinzler takes us through a history of the franchise in jaw-dropping art

The Future Of Film: Lasers Will Save 3D (If Your Cinema Is Big Enough)
Big will be beautiful in the brave new world of frickin' laser beam projection

The Bond Girls Who Made It Big
The actresses who overcame the curse of 007 to forge successful careers

The Future Of Film: A Woman Will Direct Star Wars
No longer a men’s club, Hollywood is going to start opening its doors...

The Empire Podcast #130: Interviews With Rosamund Pike, Lee Child And Antoine Fuqua
The Gone Girl star, Jack Reacher author and The Equalizer director pop in for a chat

The 50 Greatest Voice Performances In Movies
Who has the most talented tonsils in town?

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)