Romantic Comedy Roundup
By popular demand and at the suggestion of Chrissy Teigen, we bring to you a curated list of the best romantic comedies currently streaming on a screen near you! Romcoms make us smile, cry, and cringe through meet-cutes, fallouts, and reconnections. They're the best comfort food, and it's a real crime against popular culture that Hollywood doesn't make enough of them these days. But good news! We've collected a list (in chronological order, because who could possibly rank these) of classics, indies, and genre gems that make us swoon.
Here's to all the happy endings ahead!
1. His Girl Friday (1940, on Amazon) In this classic screwball comedy, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell star as newsroom exes brought together once again to break a big story. Full of snappy dialogue, the movie is just as delightful in 2018 as it surely was in the 1940s—and it still holds the record for more words per minute than any other movie made! Walter Burns (Grant) and Hildy Johnson (Russell) set the stage for many future will-they-won't-they couples, and we all thank them for it!
2. You've Got Mail (PG, 1998, on HBO) You might not have realized it twenty years ago, but Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan really prepared us for the whole online dating trend. (And also for catfishing?) Basically Joe Fox (Hanks) meets Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) in a chat room, then finds out that his big-box bookstore is driving her indie one out of business, but falls in love with her online, and doesn't tell her it's him until the end—cue "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," a golden retreiver, and hearts melting around the world. Writer/Director Nora Ephron at her finest!
3. Bridget Jones's Diary (R, 2001, on HBO) Helmed by the inimitable Rene Zellweger, Bridget Jones taught us that Collin Firth is the most handsome person to ever exist, taking off Spanx is incredibly awkward and challenging, and, most importantly, it is a-ok to be a bit of a mess sometimes and Mr. Darcy will still like you, very much. Just as you are. (Because the world is a wonderful place, we got a new entry in Bridget's story with Bridget Jones's Baby [R, 2016, on Netflix]!)
4. The "Bromantic" Comedy Then there's the whole subgroup of films that really ground down on the comedy part of the genre—the "raunch romcom" if you will. See, for example, Along Came Polly (PG-13, 2004, on Netflix). Judd Apatow is the lord and savior of this group. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (R, 2008, on Netflix), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (R, 2005, on Netflix), and I Love You, Man (R, 2009, on Netflix) might not feel like romances, but they've been built on the foundation of our beloved genre!
5. Definitely, Maybe (PG-13, 2008, on Netflix) In this unconventional romcom, a recent divorcee dad tells his young daughter the story of how he fell in love with her mother... and (surprise!) discovers new love in an old flame along the way. Featuring Ryan Reynolds and an adorably precocious Abigail Breslin, Definitely, Maybe is one of those movies you can watch over and over. It's the perfect choice when you want something sweetly sentimental; when you want something romantic and swoon-worthy; when you want something pleasantly funny; or when you want something just a touch sad.
6. I Give It a Year (R, 2013, on Netflix) Tired of marriage plots? Then this is the prefect anti-romcom, romcom for you! Staring Rose Byrne, Simon Baker, Anna Farris, and Rafe Spall, the talented cast delivers cynical jokes as two newlyweds barrel toward divorce. (We swear it ends happily!) Watching this one is a bizarre, cynical experience, but we're including it because it's laugh-out-loud funny at times, and who doesn't need a good giggle every now and then?
7. Love & Friendship (PG, 2016, on Amazon) Holy moly do we love Love & Friendship! Based on Jane Austen's 18th century novella, the film follows the fantastically manipulative, recently widowed Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) as she takes refuge from her struggling reputation at her in-laws' estate—where she decides it's high time for her and her daughter to find themselves eligible husbands. Note: This film is very, very funny!
8. The Big Sick (R, 2017, on Amazon) If you don't know already, The Big Sick very well could have saved the romcom genre, with it's awareness of real-life challenges and joys of cross cultural love stories. The movie was written by Emily V. Gordon and comedian Kumail Nanjiani about their IRL meet-cute, which involved Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) being hospitalized—and unconscious, but it's not creepy at all we swear—while Kumail falls in love with her. (As an added bonus, Meet the Patels—a documentary about an almost 30-year-old Indian American who finds himself in a love triangle with the girl of his dreams... and his parents who want him to have an arranged marriage—is available on Netflix!)
9. Netflix Original Romcoms With the major studios vacating the field, Netflix has been filling the void with a steady stream of original romantic comedies. Now, that's not to say there aren't some clunkers out there (looking at you, The Kissing Booth...) But! There are also some really fun flicks well worth two hours of your time.
The Incredible Jessica James (TV-MA, 2017, on Netflix) A confident, inspiring, raunchy aspiring playwright (2 Dope Queens' Jessica Williams) bonds with a recently dumped, cynical nice guy (Chris O'Dowd). Unlike most Netflix OGs, critics heaped praise on top of praise on this movie. The script is witty, the acting is superb, and the storyline is fresh.
Tramps (TV-MA, 2016, on Netflix) Honestly, this might be the most under-appreciated movie on Netflix right now. I mean, it has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes... Just saying. The meet-cute is simple: Two twentysomethings, Danny and Ellie, are supposed to pick up a suitcase, deliver it, get paid. Of course, nothing is that easy. This movie is a gritty, working-class take on the genre. (Bonus? Mike Birbiglia stars basically as himself.)
Alex Strangelove (TV-MA, 2018, on Netflix) This is for all you teens (and not teens!) out there. A high school senior plans to lose his virginity to his girlfriend Claire, until he meets Elliot. A bit of a riff off of Love, Simon (which is still only for sale on iTunes...), but the world needs more LGBTQ romcoms, so get over it, haters.
Ibiza (TV-MA, 2018, on Netflix) This late-night movie feels like someone smushed together The Hangover and Girls Trip (on HBO!) and turned it into a romcom. Harper (Gillian Jacobs) takes her two BFFs (2 Dope Queens' Phoebe Robinson and SNL's Vanessa Bayer) on a work trip to Spain, where she falls for a DJ (Richard Madden). Prep yourself for house music, raunch, and some steamy scenes. (Um, very steamy.)
Set It Up (TV-14, 2018, on Netflix) This one is just fun, plain and simple. Two over-worked executive assistants set their bosses up so that they can get some free time. Parent-trapping it, if you will. If you love love, then you will love Set It Up. (Or if you love Lucy Liu, who plays a charming boss! Or Taye Diggs! Or that cute guy who played John Glenn in Hidden Figures!) This one is peak romcom.
While some people complain about streaming-services-gone-movie-studio, the truth of the matter is that thanks to Netflix and Amazon Studios—the latter of which produced both Love & Friendship and The Big Sick—for the first time in a while, we have romcoms worth watching. And critics are paying attention. The Big Sick was nominated for an Academy Award this past year, and people are heaping (maybe an excessive amount?) of praise on Set It Up. One review of the film even equated lead actor Zoey Deutch's performance to—wait for it!—Rosalind Russell's, the lead in His Girl Friday. Everything old is new again, and that's the case for the romantic comedy.
In short: The romcom is perfect and here to stay, in all its heart-eyed glory!!
xoxo, Liz and Grace