It is always exciting to find a romantic comedy that doesn’t suck. A Touch of Class is exactly what the title suggests, classy, but just a touch so we can still be comfortable.
Here’s the story, Steve (George Segal) is a businessman and Vicki (Glenda Jackson) is a fashion designer, they both live in London and after a few chance encounters they admit to the obvious attraction and decide to go on a getaway to Spain together. Of course, it’s never that easy. Roadblocks start popping up before they even leave for the airport, for a while it looks like Steve will be taking his family along for his romantic getaway. By the way, Steve is American, married and has kids. So many things go wrong on that first part of the trip that it could look like Clark Griswold’s honeymoon. Thankfully, Vicki and Steve keep the antics more witty and less slapstick.
It’s only after everything has gone wrong that Vicki and Steve finally connect. From there on the film turns to a forbidden love story. We’re happy that they’re happy, but how long can it last? When they get back to London, Steve still has a family. The lengths they go to keep their relationship alive are smart, funny, but heartbreaking in that slow realistic way.
So, why is A Touch of Class a great romcom? Oh, let me count the ways:
1. It isn’t all about sex. Though it is the goal that sent the two to Spain, the first attempt is hilarious and only ends in Steve’s humiliation and the second attempt doesn’t exactly move the earth. It really does focus on their real relationship and near the end they just want to have dinner together.
2. Steve and Vicki are believable, unique characters that pair well with each other because they’re so different. Let’s think about characters like balloons. Most romcoms (and other craptastic films) decide to fill their plot with over-blown regular helium balloons (air heads) and all they can do is bump against each other the same way every time and make that horrible squeaking sound. Now, let’s think of Steve and Vicki as balloon animals (perhaps a dog and a bird). They can bounce and bump into each other in so many ways it could be an aerial ballet and that squeak hardly happens.
3. There is a real problem. It’s not cute and quirky but it won’t end or save the world; what about their real lives? What was first agreed to was “what you Americans call a quickie” turns into a relationship that can’t really happen, yet neither is willing to let go of it. This movie takes place in a real world, not happy romcom land. If it ever was there, they left in Spain.
Of course, you cannot take an American to Spain without a bullfighting scene.
But seriously, if you’re looking for a good romantic comedy that you feel you haven’t seen twenty times in the past ten years, check out A Touch of Class.
“Don’t cross-examine me in the rain. I’ll be there. Wet. But I’ll be there.”