Six Romantic Comedies That Miraculously Don’t Suck

It should be glaringly obvious by my article and film choices that romantic comedies are just not my thing. The way I see it, real relationships are hard enough work, I don’t want to waste my time watching others romantic follies, when I could just be getting into them myself. But, just because I don’t like the genre, doesn’t mean even my jaded ass can’t appreciate a particularly moving or hilarious love story, because I can. I just choose not to for the most part. But, there are films that transcend their respective genres and resonate with me as great films, regardless of the varicose vein of  love that may run through the thighs of some of them.

Here are six romantic comedies for people as weary and jaded as myself.  And to the one reader who always feels like commenting on the very few (sweet?) articles I write like this one and tell me they lost all respect for me (because I am supposed to be dark and edgy, or some such similar bullsh*t), it’s cool. I lost respect for me a long time ago.

Love, Actually

Yes, it’s true. Before all the walkers, Rick Grimes was romantic as f**k.

The best part of this is that I watched this movie on a dare. I told people, over and over, I hate romantic comedies. I think they are trite and contrived for the most part, and it takes a lot to charm me. Over and over, I was told I would love this film, because it is impossible not to. I reassured my friends I would hate it, and  honestly, it may be my favorite romantic comedy of all time. Why? Well, the cast for one. The cast of this film is like a who’s who of amazing British talent, and each one brings a distinct element to the table. On top of that,  I liked it because it is not just funny. There are real tragic elements to the story (death and infidelity, to name a few) and honestly, all of it is incredibly moving.

And much like I mention above, it features a young Rick Grimes who pulls a romantic maneuver that is KIND OF scummy, but unforgettable regardless. Also, it has this, which is pretty much the best thing ever. Really.

If there is a single thing not to love about this, I don’t know what it is.

40 Year Old Virgin

The movie is even better if you pretend it is Michael Scott from The Office, which makes perfect sense, actually.

Yes, Virginia. 40 Year Old Virgin is a romantic comedy. I know, people tend to pull off the “romantic” part and stick just comedy on it, but that is a bit of an injustice. Truth be told, as (wonderfully) vulgar as it is at times, this is still just the story of a man who is looking for love, and has no idea how to find it. And if you really pay attention to the movie, the love story that develops over the course of the film with Trish (played wonderfully by Catherine Keener) is actually incredibly innocent and sweet, especially by today’s relationship standards. But to reveal that love story, you need to endure a good hour of man-boy humor at its finest, and it only makes the journey that much more memorable.

See, I bet a few of you who enjoy my “most disturbing” lists are slightly relieved that the romantic comedies I am choosing may have some bodily fluids in them.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This one is quite bittersweet, actually.

While less outwardly humorous as some of the other films on the list, Eternal Sunshine deserves a nod for a few reasons. One, Jim Carey giving the best performance of his career, hands down. You can see the pain behind his eyes at times, and the elation at others, and he runs that spectrum beautifully in this film. And two, it asks an incredibly intense question of the viewer, and it is a question very few people can answer outright. If you loved someone dearly, and lost them, would you do it all over again, or erase that memory if you could? I am still not sure how I would answer that, even years after seeing the film and first having the question posed.

And the scenes of the memories erasing while he is still in them are some of the best “dream” sequence ever shot, pre-Inception. I almost put The Science of Sleep over this film, for they both have some very similar elements in them ( both dazzlingly directed by Michel Gondry), but Science of Sleep needs to be saved for another “dream sequence” list, down the road.

Lars And The Real Girl

I still consider it to be Eva Longoria’s least plastic role. Wait, that’s a sex doll?

So Lars And The Real Girl is about a man who falls in love with a sex doll he orders (not because he is a pervert, but more so because he is cripplingly lonely and socially awkward) and it is really a rather moving story about a whole town who tries to help keep this illusion alive for one man grasping to be understood. Lars, played by Ryan Gos…oh crap. I am talking about him again, huh?



That is Matt Dillon as every dude I  knew who had a band in the nineties.

Cameron Crowe is awesome, and honestly, all his movies could be on this list. But none resonate quite as intensely with me as Singles did. Granted, kids who grew up in the eighties or the aughts will have very little appreciation for this movie, because it was a topical romantic comedy set in Seattle in the nineties, and had cameos from every amazing grunge band (NO ONE call that an oxymoron, please) and really, for those of us who were growing up then, it is as much a love letter to the decade and music, as it is to love, itself.  Played more for laughs at times, but with some REALLY memorable scenes (Pearl Jam watching bees have sex for the win), an amazing cast, and a soundtrack that makes me wish my hair was still long (yes, I  was one of them), Singles is a movie that, whenever it is on, I will stop what I am doing to watch.

Another great reason to see it is Bridget Fonda dressed like Blossom. Seriously, guys with long hair and girls in giant hats. How anyone got laid in the nineties is beyond me.

(TIE) High Fidelity/ Say Anything

Jack Black always does best when he just plays himself.

Yup, Cusack gets TWO on the list, because he seemed to influence the ideal of Hollywoodromance far more than he would likely think. I will start with High Fidelity.

Much like Singles, High Fidelity is as much a love letter to music as it is to love, which is why it places on this list. Love is great, but merging love stories with awesome soundtracks tends to just make the story that much more epic and memorable. Also, I need to give this movie an ever bigger nod for being the movie (book, actually, but we will say movie for the sake of the article) that got me OBSESSED with lists. Seriously, before this movie, lists were just lists to me. After this movie, lists began to represent that much  more. A legacy that will survive long after most of us will. High Fidelity is funny and honest and every single other thing that makes these kinds of movies work.

Now, onto Say Anything.

When I did this with an iPod, people just pointed and laughed at me.

John Hughes is another who never missed, and I easily could have filled this list with just his movies. And though I ALMOST went with Some Kind Of Wonderful (I just got to talk about that movie two articles in a row in the same week. I officially believe in God again) for being the underdog, is there ANY image from films that represents teen love so perfectly as the the boombox under the window of the upper class girlfriend? No, no there isn’t. To NOT end the article with this film would have been inexcusable.

Honorable Mentions:

500 Days Of Summer: Though it has lost some of its charm on me over time (because I find Zooey a little bit grating), this is still an awesome film, and I loved how it was as bitter as it was sweet. Also, JGL. That dude is boss. And the musical scene owns life.

Wall-E: While some may choose not to call it a romantic comedy, that is exactly what it is, actually. And so damn charming, seriously. I adore this film.

Wall-E was programmed to trip balls.

Knocked Up: Not on the list because similar in tone and delivery to 40 Year Old Virgin, but a cute love story about a man and his bong. I hate Kathrine Heigl, and would have saved the bong, too.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: People can hate on this film all they want, but to me, it was about as perfect as a comic-to-movie translation can get. And the love story, though odd and offbeat, was epic and quite sweet, actually. Also, see every other Michael Cera film, namely Youth In Revolt and Juno, for other quirky, indie, romantic comedies.

Everyone thinks he is so sweet and charming because of the roles he picks, but he impregnated three of my friends. The same night. In the same room. At the same time.

Also, check out my site. I write stupid (albeit hopefully enjoyable) stuff, and I do it solely for you people. Show me some love, lest I wither and die.

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  1. Glad to see High Fidelity on the list. It definitely got me obsessed with lists, as well as organizing collections in the most insane manner possible. Autobiographically for the win.

  2. I recently watched Safety Not Guaranteed. That one surprised me. Great movie.

    Gondry not so much.

    Love, Actually? Maybe I saw a different movie.

    Wall-E is exactly that, but better.

    Lars and the Real Girl is amazing.

  3. Meh. Too comfy a list for my choices, but I’ll admit that I’m no fan of romantic comedies in general. I do love Belushi’s CONTINENTAL DIVIDE. LOVE AT LARGE is another good one. Strand Releasing’s THE WOMEN ON THE SIXTH FLOOR is very entertaining, too. Otherwise, I prefer my romances steamy.

    *Kicks self like seven times.
    Great call. Adored that movie. Am actually mad at self for missing that one.
    Like mad. I am not talking to me right now.
    @ E. Lee, I can honestly say I know none of those movies (and I say that very rarely) so I am excited to check them out, you have not misled me yet.

  5. Zack and Miri make a porno was surprisingly good, I watched it with my mum so i was expecting an hour and a half of super awkwardness but i laughed through it.

  6. High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies period. It also sticks pretty close to the story of the book (if that’s the kind of thing that matters to you). It’s definitely one of those movies that I think most will appreciate more after they’ve been through a bad break up or two.

    Love Actually was probably the first romantic comedy I truly enjoyed. It’s a shame it inspired those crapfests named after holidays.

    One more recent one that I’d put on my list is Crazy, Stupid Love. The ending is kind of Hollywood stereotype, but I love the way the story develops and all of the actors/actresses play so well off each other.

    I’ve got Safety Not Guaranteed sitting on my TV stand right now. The positive reviews are convincing me to watch it sooner rather than later.

  7. “Blind Date” with Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger.

    1. The James Brown Car Alarm.
    2. Phil Hartman kills it in every scene he’s in.
    3. Mr. Feeny as the ex-boyfriend’s father, who absolutely hates his son. He also has his butler kill the dog when it won’t stop barking.
    4. The ex-boyfriend is sociaopathically hilarious.

  8. Great list! I feel exactly the same way about you as romantic comedies and most of the ones you mentioned, such as Eternal Sunshine and Scott Pilgrim, are my exceptions also. Personally, I also liked Stranger Than Fiction.

  9. @Nuala : holy cow, forgot that one, excellent choice. “I brought you flours…” I too will stop speaking to myself, though I am not certain that I will comply.

    also without a doubt Stranger made the best use of the having Ferrell singing and transitioning into the original artist. Also introducing a new generation to a one of the few truly great love songs.

  10. Shallow Hal was on while I was reading this and I can’t help but like it. Its romantic without being boring and hits a real nerve with me about how much crap people get for not looking practically good. If your happy with them, they make you laugh, you can’t make it through the day without them then WHO THE FUCK CARES what they look like!

  11. Oh man, Say Anything is my favorite movie ever! Despite the fact that it came out the year I was born, the first time I saw it I fell madly in love with Lloyd Dobbler. John Cusack is an awesome actor. Love it!

  12. I’m sorry, but 500 Days of Summer was a terrible and exceedingly (although, at the same time subtly, which I must say impressed me slightly) misogynistic movie. Girls aren’t made for boys to find, fall in love with, and make them whole. Then when this doesn’t happen Summer is labeled as a bitch when, in actuality, she’s just a human. *sigh* So annoyed.

  13. I’m not a fan of the implication that Rom/Coms suck more than any other genre. With onslaught of bloated, half-assed comic book movies that genre has gone from batting .500 to below the Mendoza line. Not sure if this list was posted before Celeste & Jesse, but it supplanted Definitely, Maybe for my favorite. And no love for Harold and Maude?

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