Rob Reiner is having a pretty great time at the Toronto International Film Festival, between debuting his most personal film to date, “Being Charlie,” and teaming with Jason Reitman for a special live-reading of “The Princess Bride” for festival audiences. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a grouch about what’s happened to Hollywood lately.
So what does the man who brought us “When Harry Met Sally …” think of the current state of the romantic comedy? “I think the state of any movie that isn’t a franchise at the studios is basically dead, and all of the genres — whether it’s romantic comedy or it’s an adult drama or it’s a thriller — whatever the thing is, it’s got to be financed independently,” he says. “It’s all in the independent world, because studios are not making any of those kinds of films. They just don’t do them.”
Studios instead are focusing on franchise pictures at the expense of everything else, he argues, with budgets for tent poles ballooning while others shrink. “Everything’s $200 million or $2 million. It’s crazy,” he says. “If you don’t have the word ‘man’ or a number in the title — ‘Iron Man 2,’ ‘Spider-Man 4,’ whatever. It’s got to have a man and a number, then you can make the movie. If you don’t have those, you can’t make the movie.”
In addition, Reiner sees some problems with what’s happened to the romantic comedies that are getting made, regardless of studio proclivities toward superheroes. And let’s just say he’s not that impressed with Amy Schumer or Judd Apatow. “The romantic comedy now, first of all they’re R-rated now and they never used to be. Now because of the audiences, they’ve ratcheted up the violence and they’ve ratcheted up the sex, and they keep doing that to get audiences to come into the theater,” he explains. “Everybody’s having sex. It’s like soft-core porn, you know? They’re all R-rated. And now because of technology, whether it’s Tinder or online or whatever, it’s that kind of thing. What’s that one now with Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie? ‘Sleeping With Other People.’ ‘Trainwreck’ is the Amy Schumer. It’s that same kind of thing.”