Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top 5, Bottom 5: Romantic Comedies

I have seen 209 romantic comedies... and chances are, I disliked most of them. I am not a rom com kind of girl. I think "cute" is not necessarily a positive verb, I don't identify with domestic girly girls OR hardened independent career women, and I think it's idiotic to watch a couple gets together after knowing each other for a total of two weeks and lying to each other about who they are for all but one day of those two weeks. (I am looking at YOU, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days.)

So, yeah. Not my favorite. However... 2 of my top 5 movies are classified as romantic comedies. So when I finally find one I like, it really works for me. I figured I'd share my 5 favorite truly great romantic comedies and the 5 that most make me want to tear my hair out.

Out of 1663 movies on my Flickchart so far...

Top 5:
1. Love Actually (2003, #2 on my Flickchart). This ensemble rom com has, unfortunately, led us to things like Valentine's Day and He's Just Not That Into You, but I genuinely like every story in this movie. Richard Curtis is a funny writer who writes entertaining scenarios.
2. Annie Hall (1977, #4). My favorite Woody Allen flick - a perfect combination of cynical and sentimental, with a much more uplifting ending message than most rom coms try to send.
3. When Harry Met Sally... (1989, #13). It's been awhile since the last time I watched this, so this is a bit too high on the list, but this is the best old-friends-turned-more movie I've seen. Easily Nora Ephron's best.
4. Company: A Musical Comedy (2007, #17). That's kind of a misleading tag. It's not at all a romantic comedy in the traditional sense. It's a comedy/drama about marriage, yes, but it's not like it even hints that he ends up with anyone at the end, much less anyone we've seen in the show so far. And I don't like it in the way I like a rom com, at all. I like it because it's deep and kind of sad. So I might not count this and try another #4.
4b. Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010, #21). OK, that's not quite a rom com either, but, oddly enough, it feels closer than Company. The extremely nerdy, extremely funny, extremely wonderful story of a guy who literally has to fight for the girl he loves.
5. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001, #28). Like I said, Richard Curtis knows how to write his rom coms. I love the story of someone who really isn't a perfect girl who has low self-esteem for no reason the rest of us regular people can see. She's got some pretty real life issues. It's the same reason I love Liz Lemon. I love seeing the stories of people who are as genuinely awkward as I am.

Bottom 5:
1. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004, #1645). Take an already-mediocre movie, add a sequel that has little to nothing to do with the original, throw in as many obnoxious characters as possible and remove the personality of the good ones... and ta-da!
2. License to Wed (2007, #1644). I watched this movie because of my love for John Krasinski, but he couldn't even come close to saving this. What a terrible message. What a terrible gimmick. What terrible jokes. What terrible interactions the engaged couple have.
3. Maid in Manhattan (2002, #1643). ...Did I rank these all together? Or are three in a row just rom coms? Both are quite possible. I sure have a bunch in the bottom 100. Anyway, I can't remember a thing about this movie except wonder how a movie possibly managed to make Ralph Fiennes boring.
4. 50 First Dates (2004, #1629). This movie has a terrifying ending, not a happy one. And Adam Sandler is least romantic male lead possible. His characters always strike me as disgusting rather than sweet.
5. Mr. Deeds (2002, #1590). I did like this less than 50 First Dates, but not by much. Everything I said about Adam Sandler still holds true. And I am so tired of the "falls in love while assuming a secret identity" trope. A romance built entirely on lies doesn't turn into a cute happy ending. It just doesn't.


  1. Cool lists, Hannah!

    Romantic comedies are tricky. There is quite the stigma surrounding them ("Crappy chick-flicks!") that you kind of associate the term romcom with all the run-of-the-mill clichéed films in the genre that really are pretty crappy. And then all of a sudden I find one I really like, and when I try to explain it or recommend it to someone, it goes like this:

    Me: "Yeah, this film is really good, actually. It's kind of like a romcom, but not really."
    Them: "Oh? How is it different from a romcom then?"
    Me: "Well, it's... you know... good."

    To be honest, a lot of the romantic comedies that I do love ARE quite different from the norm, either in tone or in content. But then you have a film like Love Actually, which is not just like a typical romcom but like TWENTY typical romcoms, and is still really good. So... I forgot where I was going with this...

    Anyway. I haven't seen a lot of the movies you've listed. Love Actually, as mentioned of course. Annie Hall too, and I need to see it again. I liked that film. And then there's 50 First Dates, which I'm sure I checked out some time after seeing Memento and wanting something similar. Turns out that what's a good idea for a thriller doesn't necessarily work for a romcom. As you said, that ending is terrible, and I have no idea what they were thinking.

  2. Ha! Yeah, I like to say that the rom coms I love aren't typical of most of them... but that's not entirely true, given that 3 of the ones I listed in my favorites are pretty traditional in their format. They just happen to be written well with characters I give a crap about.

    I used to do a "least terrible romantic movies I saw last year" roundup on Facebook, and this is reminding me I should do that again this year.