The Romantic Comedies That Prove Why You're Wrong About Romantic Comedies
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The Romantic Comedies That Prove Why You're Wrong About Romantic Comedies

By Courtney Enlow | Guides | February 26, 2013 | Comments ()


Leading up to the Oscars, there was a lot of conversation regarding Silver Linings Playbook's status as this year's token "rom com" nomination. Was Silver Linings Playbook a romantic comedy? Of course it was. But the dismissive categorization stings of generalization, maybe even a dash of misogyny. Because what's the other phrase synonymous with "rom com"? Say it with me. It rhymes, too, and everything. Chick flick.

To dismiss all romantic comedies as mindless fluff is akin to dismissing all comedians as Dane Cooks. Yes, there's a lot of shit out there, because lots of people have terrible taste (like the filthy chalkduster who listed Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason as the third best romantic comedy of all time in a list that came up in my research). But the good is great.

Let's start with the pinnacle.


The Princess Bride

There is a fundamental truth to this world, and it is that there exists three perfect movies: Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and The Princess Bride. And while taste is subjective, if someone does not like any of these three movies, I don't want to know this person because I don't want to know people whose blood runs with the tears of children and whose hearts beat with a dull throb of Satan's worst hemorrhoid. And that's just that.

And, yes, people outraged at this classic being callously dropped into the category of "romantic comedy"--that's what it is. It's a love story, it's a kissing book, it's a romantic comedy. Deal with your life. You may cry, "but it's so much more! It's action and fantasy and adventure and and and" and that's true, but guess what it also is? A ROMANTIC COMEDY. Accept it. You like a romantic comedy. Once you embrace this, we can move on with the list.


When Harry Met Sally

There are people who don't like this movie. People I like. People I respect. And as a friend, I can categorically tell you that these people are entitled to their own opinions. And those opinions are wrong. This movie is made of warmth and snuggles and cute old people. Who doesn't like cute old people? Monsters. Monster people who lack souls. And my cat. She's not wild about old people. See that part about lacking souls.

A number of people who dislike this and several other films in the genre seem to be of the impression that all movies need to speak to them, to their experiences. So, sorry that your friend in college who was sooo saaaad s/he couldn't find someone just like you and showed no interest in having sex with you. That sucks. But don't blame Nora Ephron. Nora Ephron is a saint.


Better Off Dead

Others would have gone with Say Anything. I get it. It is, after all, one of my favorite movies of all time. But it's a bit more rom-com-dram. Lloyd and Diane, their love, while beautiful, is damaged. Diane needs a lot of therapy before things can really work out between those two crazy kids. If you want laughter with your love (and, yes, I'm going to start freelancing blurbs to Armond White) then you must go Better Off Dead. Because I love a movie that can be best described as "wacky" and manage to not be completely obnoxious and terrible, holding on to at least a modicum of intelligence and heart. And Fraahnch fries.

John Cusack hates it. Finding that out ruined my lifelong devotion to John Cusack. There ya go, Klosterman, there's the cure. Bottle and sell.


Bridget Jones's Diary

So, in the last five or six years, Jane Austen went mainstream. Good for Jane and all, couldn't happen to a better lady, but that led to some really painful things, like this and, for shit's sake, this (please read that plot synopsis, it will change your life). But, sometimes, a great adaptation and celebration comes along (Armond, boo, call me, I work cheap) and my beloved, beloved Bridget Jones is just that.



He likes you. Just the way you are.


While You Were Sleeping

Two words: Joe, Jr. He loves dah black underwears.


The Apartment

Sigh. If the other ones didn't do it for you, this will. And if this doesn't, well, your heart is a sad, empty place, and I'm sorry about whatever happened to you that brought you here. Did Jack Lemmon run over your dog? I'm really super sorry about that time Jack Lemmon ran over your dog.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Dan

    Bless you for including While You Were Sleeping. Everything about that film is perfect, from Bill Pullman getting to play a romantic lead to the family dinners. 'These mash potatoes are so creamy..' Underrated as hell.

  • This is a fantastic list. I hate rom coms but love just about all the ones here.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Well, you'd just HATE me...

    Yes to Princess Bride and Apartment
    Don't care one way or the other about Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Sandra Bullock. Billy Crystal was best as Jodie (doi), but that doesn't mean I hate...I'm not sure what I think, lately. Colin Firth's good, can't say I get the sweats about him but I always enjoy his work. And I have no stomach for Renee Zellwegger or Cameron Crowe.

    So, does that get me Shame Shackled here? Probably, I'm feeling pretty sheepish especially knowing Cameron Crowe's god-like status at this site.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Okay, I meant with Meg Ryan and Sandra that I don't see reason one as to why I should ever have cared about them. Not to confuse that with random hatred, but I just never 'got it' with them. Shoulder-shruggers is what they are for me.

  • AudioSuede

    The Apartment is great, but I'm more of a His Girl Friday type. Maybe it's the sharp journalistic dialogue of old-timey newspapermen, but something about it tickles my rowdydow with a huskau made of honeysuckle.

  • Archie Leach

    No one has bothered to bring up "City Lights"? Probably due to the vast majority of persons here having never heard of it.

  • Strand

    The Holiday is something I shamelessly indulge in every year since it came out. I've no idea why, it's not particularly witty, or funny... parts of it are emotionally manipulative (dead spouse incoming!). I guess I just love the cast that. damned. much. Yes, you too, Cameron Diaz, you get in here too.

  • Jormis

    The Princess Bride is meh as a rom-com. It's a fairy tale where in a couple minutes Peter Falk narrates that Buttercup and the other one are in love and we're supposed to (magically?) believe it. How about: show, don't tell?

  • BWeaves

    Because in the "show" part, they had no chemistry together. But I loved the rest of the movie.

  • Jormis

    ... the blood and hearts thing was spot on.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Astrophysicists expend excruciating amounts of effort to craft perfectly smooth mirrors for telescopes. Any tiny flaw or imperfection can throw the whole thing off and waste the entire enterprise. Looking at 80's Cusack's face I can't help but think: you guys are really wasting your time - just harness whatever impossibly smooth material it is that his face was made of back then because, fuck me, that thing just caresses its way through the universe.

  • ,

    I'm a guy and I liked "Silver Linings" a lot. Christ, you've got Jennifer Lawrence talking filthy and dancing in that tight white thing. What's not to like?

    I still don't get the love for "Ghostbusters." I saw it in a theater when it first came out, and I didn't think it was very funny then. Now it's on Movieplex, of all places, this month and I caught the last half hour or so the other night and I don't think I laughed once.

    After a while, I stop thinking there's something wrong with me and start thinking there's something wrong with YOU.

  • Aaron Schulz

    You can show yourself out

  • ,

    I know, I know ... but ... "He slimed me." "It's the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man." These are big laugh lines? They were in the theater. I just don't get it.

    OK, there's the door. Bye.

  • Finn

    I'm mostly grateful for that header! You can't possibly imagine how ofteb "baby fish mouth, baby fish mouth!" comes up in the family lexicon.....and, I don't even feel the need to offer further explanation.

  • DeltaJuliet

    That and "They don't make Sunday. Because of God."

  • Finn

    Also....the name Sheldon has been forever affected by: "you're an animal.....SHELDON, give it to me......SHELDON"

  • PonyofPonies

    Finally! Someone else loves while you were sleeping.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I've been a Pullman fan since he played the stupidest man on the face of the Earth in Ruthless People. And of course Sandra Bullock.

  • lilianna28

    Well as long as it's science, I approve

  • And a few more great ones, because I love RomComs with a passion:

    The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, and Forget Paris. I know a lot of people dislike the latter, but I can't help but find it charming as hell.

  • InternetMagpie

    i LOVE Forget Paris! and it has chicken piccata!

  • Pigeon to the head!

  • I love it too. Tooooooyota.

  • Please, someone tell me that I'm not the only one who remembers and loves The Matchmaker. It's sadly short on the romantic side, maybe, but I still find it adorable. That and The Truth About Cats and Dogs. I think it's mostly the Jeneane Garofalo awesomeness.

  • pumpkin

    Love The Matchmaker. Love it, love it, love it!

    Love The Truth About Cats and Dogs, too.

  • Finn

    Totally with you on The Matchmaker. David O'Hara's voice is reason enough to watch it.

  • Yes! And it's just so, so funny. Has one of my favorite lines ever: "Tell me, is being an idiot like being high all the time?"

  • I love the HELL out of While You Were Sleeping. It is the most adorablest of adorable movies. It is the pinnacle of Sandra Bullock Sweetness and Sunshine and it's just so goddamn sweet and hilarious. I love it so much. SO MUCH.

  • Mr. E

    Sleepless in Seattle...that is all.

  • scotankhamen

    can we please add "Chocolat" to this list? and if someone already asked that, please accept my apology :-)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    see, that has the romance, but not so much the comedy. More whimsy. Kind of like Amelie.

  • jlc1967

    My sisters and I always watch "Return to Me" whenever we're together. (David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, dead wife, heart transplant, gorillas ... what's not to love?)

  • yesknopemaybe

    I can never stop myself from sobbing in the part where the dog is waiting for her to come home. Kills me. Even now I'm tearing up.

  • TheKoiPolloi

    Nostalgia Chick *just* did a bit on that movie! It's... not complimentary, alas.

  • Leigh

    How did I forget that one?! So good. And Bonnie Hunt, Jim Belushi, Carroll O'Connor etc... are one of the best ensembles ever.

  • Bridget Jones Diary, While You Were Sleeping, Better Off Dead - YES.

    Someday I should really watch The Apartment. Someday.

    But When Harry Met Sally? Nyet. I love rom coms, but Nora Ephron's movies leave me cold.

  • Joe

    Glad to see While You Were Sleeping on here. Good movie, not ashamed to say it.

  • emmelemm

    I HATE RomComs with a burning, burning passion. The ones on this list are pretty much the only acceptable ones, in my view. And I'm not even that keen on Bridget Jones' Diary. (Sorry.)

    (With the addition of Say Anything, Grosse Point Blank, and High Fidelity, although they all cause phantom needle pain. (See VonnegutSlut's comment.)

  • Lee

    I'm a girrrrl and I feel the same way as you, bar Bridget Jones Diary (can watch that movie endlessly and never get sick of it. This is a good list though - they are the few exceptions. But I'd be more than happy for J. Aniston, K. Hudson and K. Heigle to drop off the face of the earth and never be heard from again.

  • I feel the same way about those worthlesses. But I'm an unabashed adorer of the good ones.

  • emmelemm

    I'm... also a girl.

    HATE romantic comedies. HATE them. Literally, except for the ones on this list.

  • Three_nineteen

    Some Like it Hot. That is all.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    oh, my, yes. Sing it, Sugar.

  • $27019454

    That's Sugar Kevalchic

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    It's 4 perfect movies and the fourth is Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

  • Jerce

    1) You left out Splash.

    2) I like all but one of the movies you list above...but you left out Splash and that is really bothering me.

  • BWeaves

    Can it really be a rom/com if the female doesn't have a vagina?

  • Mrs. Julien


  • Yes to all of the above. Romcoms are my favorite genre because when it's done well, it makes my whole day better. I might add It Happened One Night and A Room With a View to the list of perfect romcoms.

  • Bedewcrock

    I never really thought of A Room With a View as a romcom but you're totally right. Also, had to do a triple take when I realized her fiance was Daniel Day-Lewis. So good.

  • Leigh

    It Happened One Night = perfect movie.

  • fracas

    Isn't The Apartment more of a drama than a comedy? It has it's funny moments, but it's mostly sad. It's a great movie though.

  • roodle

    nope theres only one perfect movie and it is called Tootsie.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Oh Tootsie.....saw that movie SO many times growing up... It's the BEST!

  • $27019454

    YES!! Tootsie!! WHERe...whaaaa... and why and HOW could you leave Tootsie off this??


  • duckandcover

    The only two I haven't seen are Better Off Dead and The Apartment, and I know what crime I'm committing by saying that. UGH THIS LIST IS SO GOOD.

    To comment on Jane Austen going mainstream: if you want a modern twist on an adaptation, I adore the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. They're video blogs that are about 4 minutes each that chronicle the entire Pride and Prejudice storyline in a modern way. ALSO, THE GUYS ARE REALLY HOT OKAY AND YOU WON'T REGRET IT.

  • Oh my god, I am so hooked on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! It's just so earnest and adorable.

  • duckandcover

    It is! I was really surprised, because I'm always wary when friends recommend me things. The last time someone started a sentence with "I know you like P&P," they showed me the Zombies book. :|

  • Three_nineteen

    The Apartment is on Turner Classic Movies Saturday afternoon.

  • duckandcover

    Excellent! I'll trying to catch it.

  • Mrs. Julien

    How's about Sense and Sensibility?

    I meant something less mournful, dearest.

  • $27019454

    What is swabbing...?

  • Mrs. Julien

    I would give a great deal (up to 35.99) for a pair of penguin jammies like Bridget is wearing in the opening credits.

  • $27019454

    I saw that photo and I thought, "O My God I have those jammies." I had conflicting emotions for a sec. Then I realized they were penguins and mine have black and white puppy pawprints.

    Soooo close.

    JC, BTW

  • Zirza

    I see your point, I do, but While You Were Sleeping has one fucked up plot.

  • InternetMagpie

    SORRY TO BE THAT PERSON, but HOW can Sleepless in Seattle not be on this list? Unless you're only putting ONE Meg Ryan vehicle on there?

    I'm sorry, Courtney. I love everything you do. But this cuts me deep.

  • Because, love it as I do, if I try, I can find a flaw in SiS (it's a small one and it's called "poor Bill Pullman"). The rest of these are flaw-LESS.

  • InternetMagpie

    Poor Bill Pullman.

  • James

    Lack of "Predator" in the "perfect movie" list is disheartening.

  • oilybohunk7

    Better Off Dead is so wonderful... minus the cartoon hamburger part.

  • Jezzer

    Colin Firth, the tapioca of romantic leads.

  • anikitty

    Do you like tapioca or dislike it?

  • Jezzer


  • BWeaves

    Strangely enough, rice pudding is my favorite dessert and Colin Firth my favorite romantic lead. I'm sensing a theme.

  • wsapnin

    Sometimes "Baby Fish Mouth" is our team name on Trivia Night.

  • $27019454

    It's sweeping the nation.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Here's the thing...I don't think categorizing Silver Linings Playbook as a romcom is dismissive (if it's even accurate; I haven't seen it yet). If people had categorized it as a chick flick, yes, that would've been dismissive, but I never heard that said about it. I know plenty of guys who love romcoms (one ex made pretty much every mix tape ever by rearranging Serendipity's soundtrack.) I don't see the problem with saying a film is a genre film - be it sci-fi or action - as long as it's also a given that some films transcend their genres to just be great films.

    Though I don't remember finding The Apartment funny.

  • yesknopemaybe

    Parts of it are funny, but overall The Apartment felt very sad to me. *Spoilers* She tries to kill herself for god's sake.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    She is a true manic pixie dream girl - they liked them a little more troubled in the 60s, like Holly Golightly.

  • MRC210

    I wonder if it feels sad to us because we're used to a whole different scale of happy ending. Today The Apartment would end with Sheldrake, Dobisch and the other executives utterly and publicly humiliated, Bud and Miss Kubelek would stage a take-over of the company and Bud would carry Miss Kubelek over the threshold of the CEO's office while the entire staff applauded. A quiet, subdued ending like The Apartment's seems a bit downbeat to us now.

  • chanohack

    I whole-heartedly nominate Sean of the Dead for this list.

    (And no, I'm not just in "zombie love mode" today, this is my natural state.)

  • Bedewcrock

    But alas, they're British so they spelled it "Shaun". Upvote of course because the friendship/love element/zombies IS THE BEST. Oh and everyone hates David.

  • chanohack

    D'oh! I knew that. I did.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    No lie, I said this exact thing to Courtney earlier when I helped annoy her enough about sucky rom-coms to cause her to create this post. AND I STILL HATE MOST ROM-COMS.

  • You're the meaning in my life, you're the inspiraaaattiooooon... for this poooost and maybe me getting baaaaanngs...

  • $27019454

    "OH! I got bangs. My hair is so now."
    Where the hell is Legally Blonde?

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Where it needs to be.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Amelie drags every single one of these films out behind the dumpster and beats them to death with a shoe.

  • TheOtherGreg

    I don't see Amelie as a 'Rom-Com'. I love the movie, possibly more than The Princess Bride, and it's very romantic, and very funny, and yet it comes in from a different angle, and to me just doesn't fit. It needs its own category.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I think it counts but I can see what you mean.

  • Kballs

    The Joie de Vivre category?

  • TheOtherGreg

    I believe you've nailed it! In a good way.

  • Kballs

    Not the first time I've put it in that category . . .

  • Ted Zancha

    My step mother and sister hate Princess Bride. I just get really depressed whenever they say can you hate that movie? I don't understand how you could dislike it but to hate it. It's just dumbfounding.

  • emmelemm

    Here's the thing. I actually love the movie Princess Bride, and it has many wonderful qualities and special things.

    Unfortunately, I had read the book as a young child *before* the movie existed, and for me, in my opinion only, neither Robin Wright Penn nor Cary Elwes embodied Buttercup and Wesley as I pictured them. (Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant and Wallace Shawn, sweet perfection all.) But the small let-down over Buttercup and Wesley is always there, in the back of my mind.

  • mswas

    What's their rationale? I must know!

  • Ted Zancha

    They just think its dumb. That's all they say. Absolutely no rationale (which I agree is frustrating). They don't like fantasy movies. But they LOVE romantic comedies. It makes absolutely no sense. They should love it, but they HATE it.

  • Bedewcrock

    I think it's because sometimes the point of romcoms is to have a somewhat relateable female protagonist (Buttercup). I don't think Buttercup fits the mold especially if you see it as an adult. And if you've ever read the book, she's pretty insufferable (and hilarious).

  • Jormis

    Maybe that's it. For me, Buttercup is bland. Now, if Buttercup was like Claire Underwood ...

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