Posted by Kim
Earlier this week, my friend Jenn tweeted that she made a list of her top 25 Romantic Comedies and I called her out on it. “25?!” I said, “That is NOT a list.” I then challenged her to cut it to ten, because, come on, why even make a list if you are not going to try to be DEFINITIVE? Sure there are tons of great romantic comedies out there, but when you are talking about BEST, I feel like you should always cut things down to ten. My challenge was met with MUCH weeping and gnashing of teeth from both Jenn and our friend Jaime and I was called many names for remaining firm in my demand for ten. Finally as suggested by Chelsea, we compromised on 15.
I still say you should be bold enough to pick ten. 😉
It also just so happens that Jenn, Jaime, Sage and I have been discussing launching a podcast and this great romantic comedy debate felt like it would be a great topic for our first episode. So the four of us set out to choose our top 15’s and we will be coming together to discuss our choices and our rankings, as well as how we feel about the state of the romantic comedy as a genre (answer: not good) and what our individual parameters for good romantic comedy are. It’s been a lively debate already, and I am sure it will get much livelier.
So without further ado, here’s my list. Jenn’s can be found here and Sage and Jaime’s lists will be published by the end of the weekend…
15) One Fine Day (1996)
Melanie: Your Peter Pan complex is so 90s.
Jack: What Peter Pan complex?
Melanie: The one you’re so proud of.
Jack: Do you have any friends?
Melanie: I don’t have time for friends.
Jack: That’s because of your Captain Hook complex.
This vastly underrated gem of a film feels like an homage to the great romantic comedies of the 30’s and 40’s like Bringing Up Baby and It Happened One Night. Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney play single parents who in the span of a day meet, hate each other on sight, become reluctant allies, then friends…then maybe something more. I love that the movie takes place in the span of a day. I love that it is a love letter to my beloved New York City (up until Doctor Who‘s “The Angels Take Manhattan, I forever associated the Bethesda Fountain with this movie). And I love that it is a movie about two GROWN-UPS, which has been the problem with so many modern rom coms…the protagonists are getting younger and younger, and (to me) less relatable. Jack and Melanie are grown-ups with problems and EARNED neuroses. Finally…it’s Clooney at his Caesar-cut Clooniest. If you don’t swoon when he finally says, “What would you do if I kissed you right now?”, there is something wrong with you.
14) Runaway Bride (1999)
Maggie: I love Eggs Benedict, I hate every other kind. I hate big weddings with everybody staring. I’d like to get married on a weekday while everybody’s at work. And when I ride off into the sunset, I want my own horse.
Ike: Should I be writing this down?
I consider Runaway Bride to be the least of the Julia Roberts romantic comedy canon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still better than most of the combined rom com filmography of Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Katherine Heigl. What I DO love about this movie is that the love story of Maggie and Ike almost feels secondary to me…instead it’s really about Maggie learning to love HERSELF and figuring out what she wants outside of a relationship. It’s only when Maggie realizes that she has been using relationships to set her sense of self that she actually learns how to stand alone and be happy on her own…and THEN she’s able to be happy in a relationship. It’s quite possibly the most important lesson anyone can learn. Runaway Bride is filled with delightful supporting performances from Joan Cusack, Rita Wilson, and Hector Elizando and paints a lovely portrait of life in a small town.
Plus, Richard Gere is the definition of “silver fox” in it.
13) The Wedding Planner (2001)
Steve: I barely know you. I don’t know your dad’s first name, I don’t know if you ever wore braces, or contacts, or glasses and I have no idea how you came to be a wedding planner, Mary. But I do know the curves of your face. And I know every fleck of gold in your eyes. I know that the night at the park was the best time I’ve ever had. Pl-please say something.
Mary: I’m a magnet for unavailable men, and I’m sick of it. It’s simple, I love Fran, I respect her, and she loves you. So besides your tux measurements, that’s all I need to know. Please go away.
The Wedding Planner is pure fluff and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s one of those movies that I will almost always stop and watch when it is on cable…even though I OWN it on DVD. Jennifer Lopez had a run at becoming the next “romantic comedy queen” in the early aughts, but she was never more relatable than she was as Mary Fiore. She’s Type-A (yet lovelorn) without being abrasive or pathetically desperate for a man, which is the problem with SO MANY romantic comedy heroines these days. Mary is independent and THOROUGHLY competent in her job and while the script does include some pratfalls (her meet cute with Steve and the scene with her horse getting spooked), it doesn’t rely on them to make us like her. Where The Wedding Planner also succeeds is in making Steve’s fiancée Fran incredibly likable, especially when we are supposed to cheer for Steve and Mary to get together. It would be very easy to make Fran an uncaring shrew, but she’s not. She’s warm and friendly and smart, and she loves Steve…even if she is not necessarily right for him. Throw in lovely supporting performances from a pre-Grey’s Anatomy Justin Chambers, the ever-dependable Judy Greer, and a delightfully drunken Joanna Gleason and what do you get? A movie that is as comforting as a bowl of hot soup on a cold day.
12) The Wedding Singer (1998)
Robbie: [singing] I wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad / Carry you around when your arthritis is bad / All I wanna do is grow old with you. / I’ll get your medicine when your tummy aches / build you a fire if the furnace breaks / Oh it could be so nice, growin old with you. / I’ll miss you, kiss you, give you my coat when you are cold. / Need you, feed you, I’ll even let you hold the remote control. / So let me do the dishes in the kitchen sink / Put you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink. / Oh I could be the man to grow old with you. / I wanna grow old with you.
Made on the heels of comedy classics Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore (okay, fine. Classics to ME), The Wedding Singer showcased a side of Adam Sandler we had never seen before, mainly thanks to his delightfully unexpected chemistry with Drew Barrymore. The Wedding Singer is sweet and goofy, with just enough of the (at the time) signature Adam Sandler-ness to keep it from becoming saccharine. Barrymore’s Julia is the perfect foil for Sandler’s Robbie…they are both hopeless romantics who bring out the best in each other. The movie is also a delightful homage to the 80’s and also inspired a musical that I will shamelessly love forever.
Basically, whenever I go to a wedding, I think of The Wedding Singer. One wedding I went to, I was seated at the dreadful table 9 (“But the worst thing is: that Me, Fatty, Sideburns Lady, and the mutants over at Table 9, will never ever find a way to better the situation, because apparently we have nothing to offer the opposite sex.”) which just made me LAUGH. Also, I forever judge the first kisses on the church tongue/porno tongue scale.
11) The Holiday (2006)
Arthur Abbott: He let you go. This is not a hard one to figure out. Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.
Iris: You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god’s sake! Arthur, I’ve been going to a therapist for three years, and she’s never explained anything to me that well. That was brilliant. Brutal, but brilliant.
Sadly, this is the most recent movie on my list, which is a definite comment on the state of the romantic comedy as a genre. If there is an heir apparent to the great Nora Ephron, it’s Nancy Meyers. Like Ephron, I feel like Nancy Meyers truly GETS romantic comedy and the kind of stories and dialogue it needs. I don’t feel like it’s Christmas until I have watched The Holiday (and Love Actually, but we’ll get to that later).
I had always been dying for my queen Kate Winslet to star in a modern romantic comedy and man, she nails it with this one. There are few characters I have related to more than Iris Simpkins. At the time of seeing The Holiday I was in a relationship very much like the one that Iris has with Jasper, so I cried watching her journey from a spineless doormat to a strong and self-assured woman with “something resembling gumption”. It was still awhile after I saw The Holiday before I got out of *MY* Jasper relationship, but I sometimes think that she gave me the strength to see my relationship for what it was.
And let’s be honest…both Jude Law and Jack Black (HOW IS HE SO SEXY IN THIS MOVIE AND WHY WON’T HE DO MORE STUFF LIKE THIS?!) are relationship PORN in this movie.