What is a screwball comedy?
"Screwball comedy was unconventional, went in different directions, and behaved in unexpected ways…It was made popular in the 1930s and 1940s and involved 'the battle of the sexes' with strong women oftentimes challenging their male counterparts." Andrew Bergman, We're in the Money: Depression America and Its Films.
I saw a smartly written very funny movie called Maggie’s Plan starring Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke, written and directed by Rebecca Miller. This new romantic comedy throws a screwball pitch. I laughed out loud. Other audience members laughed with me. I thought, "Wow, I'm having a shared moment with a group of strangers." And it is a beautiful thing.
I've had similar experiences with my other screwball favorite: What’s Up, Doc? What’s Up, Doc? came out in 1972 and stars Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. The director Peter Bagdanovich masterfully concocts a madcap ride. And of course sparks fly between our two lead characters. I have seen it with different groups of people, and no one is able to resist grinning from ear to ear by the end. I challenge you to try. I am so thrilled to see a recent movie that is both sincere and whacky with complex female characters. And it does not necessarily end up where you expect. This may come as news to Hollywood, but us audience members like to be surprised.
I put together a list of screwball comedies old and new(er) just for you that we have in our collection. I recommend pairing these movies with pajamas, a comfy couch, and Chinese food.