By Kristy Strouse
“I can’t stand romantic comedies.” We’ve all met someone like this. Whether or not this is a genre that you like, love, or simply feel abhorrently about, I believe that there are some classics that are embedded in the history of film that can’t be discredited. Ones that warm even the coldest or most cynical of us.
Since I think that these lie within the very fabric of what makes movies like this so comforting, these are five I’d suggest for anyone. However, we all have our own tastes and sentimental trappings when it comes to ”feel good” cinema, or “cry your eyes out” romance. Find your own, but if you need help, check these out.
1.) When Harry Met Sally
There is a reason that this comes up so often. “When Harry Met Sally” doesn’t age. All of it still sticks: the humor, the chemistry and quick banter between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, and the question of whether or not a man and a woman can be friends. I’d say there probably isn’t one definitive answer to that, but for these two in the years that pass as they meet, meet again, and then form a real bond, do we want them to be?
As college graduates they are both certain of themselves, and have differing opinions on this question. When the two can’t seem to stay away from one another, and as they get older and their ideas of relationships challenged, their initial dissonance becomes their shared experience. It’s a story by one of the best in this particular business, Nora Ephron, and it is one worth revisiting.
2.) About Time
I think there is something effortlessly pure within ”About Time” (2013) by Richard Curtis. It has a lot of hats that it hides under, fantasy, drama, comedy… but ultimately, it is about love. What we would do to keep it, and the love for life itself. I’d wager that most have left this movie feeling better about themselves and their situations, because it puts perspective on living within each moment.
Granted, these characters get the benefit of time travel- wholly unfair, but never the less…Domhnall Gleeson is adorably inept when it comes to love. He’s shy, not particularly savvy with the women, but his big heart and genuine smile make it very easy to want to tag along on his journey. When he learns from his father (the always amazing Bill Nighy) that the men in his family have the ability to travel to different moments in their life, everything changes. When he meets the woman (Rachel McAdams) he feels destined be with it begins a messy, comical, and heartfelt series of experiences. It reminds me a bit of “Groundhogs Day” (1993) in its blending of descriptors, but also about its message. “About Time” is a sweet, and yet deeply profound take on the rom-com.
3.) Sleepless in Seattle
Speaking of classic tales of wondrous momentous romance… ”Sleepless in Seattle” (1993) has an iconic status because its story is a rare one. Yes, it takes some cues from movies before it (don’t they all?) but it exists primarily on the concept of that rare sort of love that seems to be made only in film. Which, is why, many flock towards it.
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks really sell the story though. As a grieving husband, when he son unexpectedly blasts him on the radio (in hopes of helping him) Annie (Ryan) hears him talk beautifully of his late wife. Despite being engaged herself and across the country, she feels drawn to him. This makes her analyze her own feelings, and wonder- what if?
This specific romantic comedy is definitely funny, but it’s also gushy, gooey, tear-jerkingly penetrable. I think that if a movie like this ends with you gazing at the screen, the way these two do at one another in the end, you’re sold.
4.) The Princess Bride
Number four is true love, AKA, “The Princess Bride” (1987). Maybe you’ll see this and think “really?” Or, perhaps, you have safeguarded this little delight so close to your heart, that it doesn’t often register as a romantic comedy. But, it is. It’s silly, over the top (in the best of ways) and it’s a story that embodies the love of storytelling in all its fairy-tale grandeur, without forgetting the most important note: love. It’s ingrained in our adventures, our heartaches, and our life-affirming moments.
Another Rob Reiner film to make it on the list, with Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Wesley (Cary Elwes) their story to love is quick, but takes a dangerous turn when they are split up. Never lose hope though, because these two are meant to be and find themselves together again, even if the circumstances aren’t as they planned.
This movie is one of those rare features that bottles a feeling, call it love- hope- joy- what have you, and turns it into a feel-good experience that isn’t just for the lovesick or romance yearning film fans. “The Princess Bride” is the epitome of a heartwarming movie-going experience.
5.) The Big Sick
Anything written from real events lends itself to be more heartfelt, especially when one of the wriers is also the star. Kumail Nanjiani gives us a smart, meaningful portrayal of love found and almost lost, but definitely endured, when the woman he falls for (played here by the lovely Zoe Kazan) gets sick. As a pakistan-born man his family expectations, along with meeting hers for the first time in less than ideal circumstances, proves to cause complications.
It’s a fresh, but funny film that doesn’t skirt around the difficult moments in life, but instead embraces them with humor and soul. “The Big Sick” (2017) is an intelligent and terrific movie that boasts a inspiring message along with its quick wit.
This wasn’t an easy list to concoct, and so many were left out that I feel should be seen. These were five that were variant, but still important to the genre for various reasons. We have some terrific newer films like ”Love Simon” (2018), and “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) that should be sought, and many other classics I didn’t dive into. These are just five that are timeless, the others? We’ll have to see, but for now, they make our romantic comedy future…hopeful.
Which is what we need.