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February 16, 2007

The King and Queen of Meeting Cute

If you can't bear to watch the new romantic comedy Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, know this: The inevitable love story starts as the leads Meet Cute when (I'm not making this up) replacement plant-waterer Barrymore starts singing words (lyrics) to a melody (music) played by former pop star Grant, who is conveniently suffering from a tragic case of writer's block. I'm capitalizing the phrase "Meet Cute" because that's how its popularizer Roger Ebert does it. (Although, unlike him, I refuse to use it as a noun.)

Meeting Cute (or, fine, a Meet Cute) is, according to that bastion of all knowledge, "the contrived encounter of two potential romantic partners in unusual or comic circumstances." They are generally "polar opposites." Luckily for cinemaphiles, Grant and Barrymore have experience in this particular line of work. A little online detective work shows that these two "Meet Cute" with other romantic leads on a regular basis:

Movies in which Hugh Grant is described as Meeting Cute:

Love Actually

Bill Thompson, Post and Courier: "Worst are the characters played by Grant and Martine McCutcheon, as newly installed British prime minister and his staff aide. They meet cute (love at first sight), they part cute, they reunite cute. It's so sweet you'll get a toothache."

Two Weeks Notice

William Arnold, Seattle Post Intelligencer: "In the entertaining if forgettable comedy Two Weeks Notice, these two opposites meet cute when [Sandra Bullock] challenges [Grant's] efforts to tear down her Coney Island neighborhood's cherished community center."

Notting Hill

Ebert: "The film, of course, begins with a Meet Cute; she wanders into his bookstore, enjoys the way he handles a would-be shoplifter, and their eyes, as they say, meet."

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Chris Willman, Los Angeles Times: "The sweet, sharp farce has [Grant] striking up romance with Andie MacDowell in a circuitous route that takes the tentative couple through a 'meet-cute' times five, encompassing all the title ceremonies."

Movies in which Drew Barrymore is described as Meeting Cute:

Fever Pitch

Soren Andersen, Tacoma News Tribune: "Yes, the couple meets cute when [Jimmy] Fallon gallantly mops up after a barfing Barrymore on their first date."

Fifty First Dates

Paul Clinton, CNN.com: "To use the Hollywood vernacular, they 'meet cute' at a local diner. Lucy is fond of using her breakfast waffles to build little log cabins, and Henry helps her make a waffle door using a toothpick as a hinge."

Ever After

Ebert: "Danielle's [Barrymore's] entry into the life of Prince Henry [Dougray Scott] is handled through a series of coincidental encounters after a Meet Cute in which she bops him with an apple."

Mad Love

Ebert: "The movie takes place in a Seattle suburb, where Casey (Drew Barrymore) is the alluring new girl in school. Matt (Chris O'Donnell) is her good-looking classmate who lives across the lake and finds his telescope trained less often on the stars than on Casey's house. He contrives a Meet Cute, and after a little awkwardness, they like each other, and before much longer, they are in love."


Jack Mathews, Newsday: "How Anita [Barrymore] and Howard [James LeGros] get together redefines the phrase 'meet cute.' Misunderstanding a class assignment to find pen pals, Anita begins corresponding with a lonesome inmate—Howard—at the state pen."

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