Why the rom-com is almost extinct

June 20, 2013 10:48 PM

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“Much Ado About Nothing,” Joss Whedon’s larky adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play that opens Friday, transposes the action from 17th century Sicily to modern-day Santa Monica, where in Whedon’s sprightly re-imagining, the verbally sparring Beatrice and Benedick fall in love in the director’s own modern mission-style home, amidst shots of tequila, beeping iPhones and scads of political intrigue.

But Shakespeare’s play — with its deceptions, schemes, setbacks and ultimate victory of true love — also serves as a sobering reminder of how romantically impoverished mainstream American cinema has become. “Much Ado,” which for decades served as the classic template for bickering couples from Hepbu...

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