Just Because It's Christmas / A Rom-Com Round Up
I love romantic comedies. Why am I telling you this? Well, Christmas is just a month away, and if Christmas is known for one thing, it’s for the birth of baby Jesus. BUT IF IT'S KNOWN FOR ANOTHER, it’s for being rom-com season - the setting for many of the genre's best films.
And so, just because it’s Christmas - I want to come clean and proudly celebrate these long dismissed movies. Of course, as with most genres, you’ve got to search for the diamond in the haystack or whatever. So this is me doing that for you - making a definitive list of romantic comedies to watch over the Christmas break. You're welcome.
(Oh, and when I say rom-coms, I’m not talking about the “well, technically Kill Bill is a rom-com if you look at it from blablabla” bullshit. I’m talking the pure stuff. I’m talking the guy is an architect who can’t commit! The lady is busy businesswoman with a douchey boyfriend! They hate each other! But they have pretend to be married for a week! And both of their parents are at the same restaurant! Oh no, a misunderstanding! People give advice while shooting hoops! He runs to the airport! She quits her job! A post credit sequence tell us that they eventually have kids! If the poster doesn’t include the leads standing back to back, smiling at the ground or laying in bed with an 'Uh-oh!' expression, it isn’t worth my god-damn time. Like I said - the pure stuff.)
These movies usually aren’t critically acclaimed - but they are still great,with some genuinely good com to go with rom. Here are some classics and some lesser known gems to get you started.
Fever Pitch (2005)
This list is going to have a lot of Drew Barrymore so if you don't like it please get off this page and out of my life. Fever Pitch (or The Perfect Catch in some regions) is a caricature. Really - just think of every rom-com trope and this one manages to pull it off. Jimmy Fallon is Ben, a goofy school teacher who loves the Red Sox. Drew Barrymore is Lindsay, a business lady with no time for love (she tells her friends while on the elliptical). But Ben spends all his time and money on sports! Lindsay is too busy with work! You know what - I think they’ll both learn a lesson in compromise!
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Yes, more Drew. This movie was her debut to the genre, and to the reoccurring pairing of herself and Adam Sandler - cinemas most iconic couple (said only me)! Barrymore is a waitress engaged to a real d-bag, and Sandler is the singer/hopeless-romantic they've hired for their wedding, whom Barrymore quickly befriends. The fiancé is too busy with business things to help with the wedding, so the wedding singer steps up like the top bloke he is - from trying wedding cakes, to sorting invitations and even practicing the wedding kiss (normal, right?). I wonder…just wonder…if it blossoms into something more. I also wonder…just wonder…if we’ll get a dash to the airport AND a romantic declaration of love in the form of a song. Hmmm, I wonder.
The Proposal (2009)
Having some Sandra is compulsory, and she has some DOOZIES when it comes to rom-coms (in both the positive and negative sense). This movie is her best stuff. Sandra is a busy business lady, who’s about to be kicked out the country for an expired visa (she’s Canadian). Ryan Reynolds is her assistant who agrees to a green-card marriage in exchange for a promotion. It’s a simple trade, until they need to spend a week with the grooms family and pretend to be a couple! Uh oh! I have a feeling that Sandra’s harsh demeanour has something to do a with a tragic backstory, and with some help, she’ll be brought out of her shell.
It’s Complicated (2009)
Yes, Nancy Meyer films are elderly catnip, but if you actually sit down and watch them, you’ll forget that there has ever been pain in the world. Somehow this gem managed to recruit some of the biggest A-listers out there. Meryl Streep is a successful bakery owner with adult children, who starts a secret affair with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) ten years after their divorce! BUT Steve Martin is her architect, with whom she also has a connection! A Bakery! An Architect! Misunderstandings! Having to play coy while the two people you’re dating are in the same room! WE ARE IN FOR A WILD RIDE!
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
HE owns a big chain of bookstores. SHE owns an independent book shop. THEY don’t seem like they’d get along, but little do they know - THEY'VE already met! ON THE WEB! I don’t need to sell this one too much. You know it. You’ve probably seen it. It’s got Tom Hanks when he’d still show up for a rom-com, and Meg Ryan before she got too old for a woman in Hollywood. One of the joys of this movie is witnessing how it has aged probably worse than any movie in the history of movies. Both of the characters own book stores for crying out loud. Anyway, it's full of those ‘missed connection’ moments and that Meg Ryan haircut - you'll love it.
Love Actually (2003)
This rom-com out rom-coms itself by putting about a dozen rom-coms into one rom-com. Yet somehow it works? Don’t ask me. It honestly shouldn’t. In many ways it's also just a recipe for success. It’s bloody Christmas in bloody London. It's snowing so there's loads of cute bloody scarves. There’s a even a bloody Prime Minster (who else but Hugh “bloody” Grant) who falls for his bloody assistant. There’s a bloody dash to the airport. There’s a bloody dude holding up signs to tell a woman he loves her because his best-friend/her fiancé is inside and he can’t make a noise! Yes, that’s messed up! But it’s BLOODY CHRISTMAS SO IT DOESN’T MATTER. DRINK THE KOOL AID.
The Holiday (2006)
Oh boy, this is treat! A cynical workaholic American (Cameron Diaz) swaps homes/lives with a clumsy romantic English woman (Kate Winslet) over Christmas - and I’m sure they’ll learn a thing or two from one another! Jude Law is a bumbling fool and Jack Black is an unexpected romantic lead? Okay. There’s also an old man who gives sage advice, and a montage that demonstrates falling in love. I don’t know how else to describe this, but it's the film equivalent of eating a half-melted marshmallow that's been sitting in a hot chocolate.
Music and Lyrics (2007)
YES THIS IS THE THIRD DREW BARRYMORE MOVIE SHUT YOUR MOUTH. Anyway, Hugh Grant plays a washed up 80’s musician who is hired by a young pop star to writer her a song BY THE END OF THE WEEK! That’s gonna be a stretch! Problem is, he’s only good at writing music, not lyrics! Barrymore is a writer who has been hired to water his plants who IS really good at writing lyrics. They’re both stuck in the past for different reasons, and though they don’t initially get along, one can’t help but think that writing a love song together may lead to something more. Don't worry, they acknowledge the weird age gap and you won't mind it too much.
Man Up (2015)
We’ve been hitting some a lot of mid-2000 classics, but this one came out last year and it’s a ripper. Nancy (Lake Bell) is a cynic who has given up on love! When a charming romantic (Simon Pegg) mistakes her for his blind date - she plays along. It's got a brilliant misunderstanding, a dance number, witty banter, English accents, scarves and even a final chase scene! I'd reccomend this to newbies and lovers of rom-coms alike. It takes place over the course of just one night, but manages to fit in (and celebrate) almost every genre cliche in there. This movie proves that the well hasn’t dried on rom-coms, and is a great entry point for the nay-sayers.
AND THAT'S THE LIST. Yeah, I know I made fun of the movies a lot in my descriptions but I’m doing it from a place of genuine love. And yes, like the rest of modern cinema, the genre’s not perfect. However, I argue that in a time where we desperately need films to comfort watch, there’s no genre better for the job.