August 15, 2016
The glorious Garry Marshall passed away a month ago, and I wanted to share the sincere (and only slightly) embarrassing love I have for him. That love began while watching Nick at Nite reruns before bedtime. A majority of these reruns were TV shows he had written for or created, such as Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. The theme songs were catchy and the shows were silly, but even as a child, I’ve always favored movies to TV. And boy, was I lucky to have been born at the start of his transition to filmmaking.
In a quarter of a century, Garry gave the world many rom-coms, date movies, holiday movies, mom movies and feel-good flicks. Over the course of my adolescence, I’ve seen Overboard, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Beaches, The Other Sister and The Princess Diaries a ridiculous number of times because I watched any movie my mom wanted to rent, tape or catch on TV. Besides his major contribution to the sitcom, he’s mostly associated with jump-starting Julia Robert’s career and proving how charming she could be as a prostitute. I was too young to understand her character’s “profession,” but I became so smitten with the idea that her and Richard Gere were married, and I was convinced they represented true love. I was 8 years old when the two reunited in Runaway Bride. I watched the rented VHS tape so many times that I ended up ruining it. I was pretty weird…. but as I grew up and developed my own taste, I discovered good films, then great films and dedicated more of my time to being my own self-proclaimed film aficionado. Garry’s films were, not surprisingly so, ever mentioned among the film greats. I didn’t know how to think about Garry Marshall’s filmography other than to dismiss it and leave it behind with other embarrassing childhood memories. Yet, I cannot go on in this world without Runaway Bride and the Gere. There came a point where I had to get off my high horse and give into the Garry films I knew I couldn’t deny were a part of me.
I’ve sampled the best of cinema and the absolute worst. And since not everything can be easily categorized as great or terrible, there must be an in-between area that exists. Sometimes movies are so far-fetched and absurd, that you can’t help but enjoy them. I’m sure we can all relate to that. Whether we like them or not, they are a part of cinematic history and hold cultural importance. Common examples of this are Michael Bay films or Nicolas Cage doing whatever insane thing he’s doing. (Ed.: Thank god for Nicolas Cage.) These are fun, over-the-top, and too entertaining to not love. Garry Marshall took a blissful attitude used previously for his work in television and utilized them into his films, making a successful catalog of sentimental movies. He has said in multiple interviews that all he wanted was to make happy, nice films. And how can you argue with that? He seems like such a good sport. Garry always showed up and made the films he set out to make and had success with it. He also made Julia Roberts wear two horrendously similar wigs over the course of her career.