The Rom-Com (part 1)

Annie: “Now that was when people knew how to be in love. They knew it! Time, distance; nothing could separate them because they knew. It was right. It was real. It was…”

Becky (Rosie O’Donnell): “…a movie. That’s your problem. You don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie.”

source: USA Today

What is a rom-com?

The short answer is a movie that has romance and comedy. There is a distinctive formula for many rom-com movies. Similar to the cheesy holiday movies I wrote about in December. The rom-com formula can include a meet-cute, hate/disgust turned to love, a clumsy character, love in a major city, love on vacation, a love triangle, obstacles to love, misunderstandings, cheating partners, mismatched partners, heartstring-tugging speech, a profession of love, running through the airport, a kiss in the snow, rain, etc., a makeover, and fabulous outfits. These movies provide us with iconic moments and quotable lines.

The American Film Institute’s broad definition of “a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations.

Meriam Webster defines it: “as a light, comic movie or other work whose plot focuses on the development of a romantic relationship.

Why do we watch rom-coms?

Rom-coms get a bad reputation as “chick flicks,” but not all rom-coms are just for women. Some rom-coms have action and are comedy heavy with a little romance mixed in.

I will admit a lot of rom-coms are geared toward women and highlight female friendships as well as romance.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 days – Paramount

Women enjoy romantic stories because we were introduced to them early. For example, Cinderella and Snow White were popular children’s stories when I grew up.

My love of love in movies started with Grease (1978 on Paramount+) and Sixteen Candles (1984 on Prime Video). I wanted Jake Ryan to pick me up in his Porsche so we could live happily ever after. The comedy in this rom-com is problematic, but that was the type of humor in most 80s movies. My best friend and I acted out scenes from Grease, and I played the soundtrack album on repeat.

The rom-com genre is my favorite because I love a love story. These movies typically make you laugh and feel good about love and friendship.

When researching movies for this post, I came across some “best rom-coms” lists. It’s hard to define what makes a rom-com the best. However, you can call it a good rom-com if it has many top rom-com qualities.

Here are a few lists I found:

From TimeOut, The 70 best romcoms of all time

#1 on the list is one of my favorites: When Harry Met Sally (1989 stream on HBO max)

From Good Housekeeping, 60 Best Romantic Comedy Movies of All Time

From Vanity Fair, The 33 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time. Number one is When Harry Met Sally and number two is another favorite of mine.


From MovieWeb, The 20 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time, Ranked

Universal Pictures. #1 on the list is one of my top ten rom-coms. About Time (2013 on Prime Video)

From PopSugar, Love Is in the Air! These Are the Best Rom-Coms Currently Streaming on Netflix. “From heartbreaks to rekindled romances, these rom-coms on Netflix have all the love and lust you’re looking for.” There are 79 movies on this list, including some cheesy holiday movies. A few of my favorites (that I could watch again) on the list are:  “When We First Met”,  “Ibiza: Love Drunk” “Always Be My Maybe”  “Set It Up”“Someone Great”  “Love, Guaranteed”  “Mr. Right”  “Holidate”

From Good Housekeeping, 60 Best Romantic Comedy Movies of All Time.

A lot of my rom-com favorites are included on the Good Housekeeping list, one that I’ve recently fallen in love with is The Photograph (2020 romance/comedy/drama on Prime Video). “Blame the ’90s nostalgia, the throwback storyline, excellent soundtrack and fabulous costumes or the on-point performances by Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield, but this dual-timeline love story has us convinced that matters of the heart know no limit.

Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae fall in love in “The Photograph.”Credit…Emily Aragones from The New York Times

I’m not going to share my list of favorites because it would be too long, and I’m wondering if I could name a number one. I’m listing rom-coms movies under categories I’ve created, and I will put stars next to my favorites. A favorite is a movie I quote, has my favorite outfits, I would watch again, have watched several times, and share with friends.

The Brat Pack

The rom-coms of the 80s starred this group of talented actors. From Wikipedia, “The “core” members are considered to be Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy.”

Columbia Pictures – St. Elmo’s Fire

****Pretty in Pink (1986 on HBO max), “One of the many films to star Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy during the decade, this film, which also stars James Spader, has become a cult classic. Andie is an average high school girl with a quirky best friend who is secretly in love with her. And apparently so is the bullying rich kid who resents her because she once turned him down. Meanwhile, she has a crush on one of the preppy boys.

****Sixteen Candles (1984 on Prime Video)  “Sixteen Candles is another film written and directed by John Hughes. The 1984 movie starred Brat Packers Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall as Samantha “Sam” Baker and Ted; Sam is a sophomore turning 16, and Ted is a geeky freshman obsessed with Sam. Sam, however, has a crush on senior Jake Ryan (to reiterate, swoon).” Movieweb

****The Breakfast Club (1995 on Hulu) From Screenrant, “Arguably the film that best defines the Brat Pack, this John Hughes flick includes most main members: Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy. Again, set in high school, The Breakfast Club is a teen coming-of-age comedy-drama that looks at a group of very different kids who are all stuck in detention together for different reasons.

**St. Elmo’s Fire (1985 on HBO max) “Joel Schumacher co-wrote and directed this 1985 film starring Brat Packers Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy, and a top-of-his-game Judd Nelson. The film revolves around a group of recent Georgetown University graduates who are navigating post-college life personally and professionally. The group gathers at St. Elmo’s Bar to catch up on their lives, and they always have a lot of catching up to do as each and every single one of their lives are a complete mess, like so many other recent college grads.Movieweb It is more of a drama romance with some funny bits, but it’s a classic brat-pack film.

*Class (1983 on Prime Video) “Class from 1983 starred Brat Packers Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe at an expensive preppy boarding school, where Jonathan (McCarthy) arrives at his new prep school to meet his roommate, Skip (Lowe). Basically, Skip bullies Jonathan, but since this is a movie, they eventually become the best of friends. On a trip to Chicago, Jonathan has an affair with a beautiful older woman who, he finds out over the Christmas holiday, is Skip’s mom. Ah, the 1980s! The film may not be a masterpiece, but it’s noted for being the film debuts of the fun Andrew McCarthy, John Cusack, and Virginia Madsen, and is only the second film from Rob Lowe, just four months after his debut.Movieweb

*Oxford Blues (1984 rent) “Brat Packers Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy starred in this 1984 remake of the 1938 film A Yank at Oxford. Oxford Blues is Rob Lowe’s first fully headlining role in a film. Lowe played Nick, a Las Vegas casino employee working to make enough money to pursue his crush, Lady Victoria Wingate, to Oxford. He applies and gets into Oxford University, joining the rowing team in an effort to win her over. Unfortunately, she’s got a boyfriend who’s also on the rowing team. Sheedy plays Rona, another American at Oxford, who is the coxswain of the rowing team. Movieweb

*About Last Night (1986 rent) “It’s an interesting story about free-spirited 20-somethings who finally decide to try and settle down instead of date around, a story to which young adults today can still totally relate. Based on the 1974 play Sexual Perversity in Chicago by David Mamet, a 2014 remake of the film starred Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, and Regina Hall.Screenrant

**Weird Science (1985 on Prime Video) “In this movie, Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith are Gary and Wallace, two geeky high school kids who, after being humiliated by some high school bullies (one of whom is played by Robert Downey Jr.) when they are caught gawking over their girlfriends, decide to try and build their own virtual woman.Screenrant

*One Crazy Summer (1986 rent), “This romantic comedy technically only starred one core Brat Packer: Demi Moore. But it also includes another actor who was considered Brat Pack-adjacent: John Cusack. In it, Cusack is a high schooler named Hoops who, after failing to get into a prestigious school of design on a basketball scholarship, has to pen and illustrate a love story in order to gain admittance.Screenrant

The Pick-up Artist (1987 on HBO max) Serial pick-up artist and commitment-phobe Jack Jericho (Robert Downey Jr.) takes lessons in the art of seduction from aging player Phil Harper (Danny Aiello). Jack finds a formidable opponent in Randy Jensen (Molly Ringwald), a fiery tour guide who has a retort for his every line. 

*Mannequin (1987 on HBO max), Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy), an unemployed artist, finds a job as an assistant window dresser for a department store. When Jonathan happens upon a beautiful mannequin he previously designed, she springs to life and introduces herself as Emmy (Kim Cattrall), an Egyptian under an ancient spell. 

***Wargames (1983 on AMC+) This is more of an action, suspense movie with a little romance. Stars Aly Sheedy and Matthew Broderick. IMDB, A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III.

Rom-Com Royalty

What actors, writers, and directors do you think of when it comes to rom-coms? Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Nora Ephron, and Nancy Meyers, to name a few.

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks

*****Sleepless in Seattle (1993 rent on Amazon or Apple TV), Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met? Written and directed by Nora Ephron.

****You’ve Got Mail (1998 on HBO max), a classic featuring the two actors plus a strong supporting cast. Can two people who hate each other fall in love? Directed by Nora Ephron.

*Joe Versus the Volcano (1990 on HBO max), A far-fetched story but a cult classic with funny and cute moments. Meg Ryan plays several characters.

Tom Hanks

****The Money Pit (1986), Has home improvement laughs with a love story. Lots of great physical comedy by Tom Hanks. Also starring Shelly Long.

***Splash (1984 on Disney+), Directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. It follows Hanks as a young man who reunites with the mermaid who saved him as a child and falls in love with her. Also stars John Candy and Eugene Levy.

*The Man with One Red Shoe (1985 rent), Is Tom Hanks a musician or a spy?

*That Thing You Do (1996 on Starz), Music, love, laughs, and drama.

*The Terminal (2004), This is more of a drama with a little laughter and romance.

*Larry Crowne (2011 on HBO max), Tom Hanks directed and starred in this film with Julia Roberts. The story of a middle-aged man reinventing himself.

*Turner & Hooch (1989), A bit of a love story with a man and a trouble-causing dog, plus a bonus romance between a vet and dog owner.

Meg Ryan: From MovieWeb, Meg Ryan’s Best Romantic Comedies, Ranked

My top 2 Meg Ryan movies:

*****French Kiss (1995 on DVD), “Ryan stars as Kate, a young woman madly in love with her fiancé Charlie (Timothy Hutton), whose world crumbles when he calls her halfway through a trip to inform her that he’s fallen in love with another woman and isn’t coming back.” She meets Kevin Kline on the flight to Paris, and many mishaps occur on her quest to get back her true love. Kevin Kline plays the perfect grouchy Frenchman.

****When Harry Met Sally (1989 stream on HBO max) In 1977, college graduates Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) share a contentious car ride from Chicago to New York, during which they argue about whether men and women can ever truly be strictly platonic friends. Ten years later, Harry and Sally meet again at a bookstore, and in the company of their respective best friends, Jess (Bruno Kirby) and Marie (Carrie Fisher), attempt to stay friends without sex becoming an issue between them. Great supporting cast, written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner.

*Kate & Leopold (2001 rent), “Kate is a fast-growing businesswoman living in 2001. Leopold (Hugh Jackman), for his part, is the Duke of Albany in 1876. When amateur physicist Stuart (Liev Schreiber), Kate’s ex-partner, opens a portal from 19th-Century New York into the present, both Kate and Leopold cross paths, sparking an unforeseen romance across distance and time.

Addicted to Love (1997 rent), “Inspired by the Robert Palmer song, 1997’s Addicted to Love delves into the boundaries of romantic obsession, featuring Ryan, Matthew Broderick, Tchéky Karyo, and Kelly Preston.

*Prelude to a Kiss (1992), “The movie is based on the play of the same name written by Craig Lucas and directed by Norman René, the team that also heads the cinematographic production. It revolves around Rita (Ryan) and Peter (Alec Baldwin), a completely opposite pair who fall in love at first sight. Upon their wedding day, a peculiar visit turns their lives upside down: when an elderly man named Julius (Walker) kisses the bride, their souls unexpectedly swap bodies.

Hugh Grant

Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant star in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” 
Gramercy Pictures

****Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994 on HBO max) Lovable Englishman Charles (Hugh Grant) and his group of friends seem to be unlucky in love.

***Love Actually (2003 on Prime Video) has an ensemble cast. Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England. IMDb

***About a Boy (2002 on Prime Video) Based on a 1998 book by Nick Hornby. An eternal bachelor living off his father’s music royalties becomes the reluctant companion to a bullied 12-year-old who teaches him how to be a man.

****Noting Hill (1999 on Netflix) A chance encounter brings together reserved bookstore owner William Thacker and Hollywood icon Anna Scott, who forge an improbable romance.

***Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001 rent) “Based on the novel of the same name by Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary follows a single thirtysomething woman named Bridget as she tries to establish a romance with her coworker Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) while fending off her family’s attempts to set her up with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Over the course of the film and its two sequels — Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Bridget Jones’s Baby — Bridget deals with ups and downs in both her personal and professional life, all the while approaching things with a sense of dry British humor.US Weekly. Plus two sequels, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (2004 on Starz) and Bridget Jones Baby (2016 on Starz)

***Two Weeks Notice (2002 on HBO max), A lawyer decides that she’s used too much like a nanny by her boss, so she walks out on him. IMDb

****Music And Lyrics (2007 rent) A washed up singer is given a couple days to compose a chart-topping hit for an aspiring teen sensation. Though he’s never written a decent lyric in his life, he sparks with an offbeat younger woman with a flair for words. IMDb One of my favorite Hugh Grant movies with a fun soundtrack. Also stars Drew Barrymore and Kristen Johnston

The Rewrite (2014 rent) A washed-up screenwriter (Hugh Grant) reluctantly takes a college teaching job and meets a single mother (Marisa Tomei) who changes his life in more ways than one. I can’t rate it; I’ve never seen it.

Sirens (1994 on Peacock) When a painting is termed blasphemous, a young minister and his wife visit the artist… and the three sexually playful models living with him. IMDb I can’t rate it; I’ve never seen it.

Nine Months (1995) “Nine Months is the classic tale of an unexpected pregnancy and a guy kind of being a jerk about it. It stars Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, and Joan Cusack. There are also appearances by Jeff Goldblum and Robin Williams.” Cinemablend

John Cusack

****Say Anything (1989 rent) A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe.

****The Sure Thing (1985 on DVD) Directed by Rob Reiner. Walter Gibson is a university freshman going through a dry spell. His old buddy arranges a “sure thing” for him in California. Gibson and his classmate Allison then take a long road trip out to Cali, and both foil each other’s plans. IMDb

***Better Off Dead (1985 on Showtime/Paramount+) After his girlfriend ditches him for a boorish ski jock, Lane decides that suicide is the only answer. However, his increasingly inept attempts bring him only more agony and embarrassment. Filled with the wildest teen nightmares. IMDb And lots of laughs “I want my two dollars.”

***Serendipity (2001 on Paramount+) A couple search for each other years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced that one day they’d end up together.

*Must Love Dogs (2005 rent) A thirty-something preschool teacher looks to the personals for a change of pace and a relationship, with hilarious results. IMDb Also stars Diane Lane.

*High Fidelity (2000 rent) When Rob is dumped by his girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle), he decides to visit each ex on his list of 5 Worst Breakups to determine what went wrong. From Screenrant, John Cusack’s RomCom Roles, Ranked From Most Toxic To Most Romantic.

*America’s Sweethearts (2001 rent) From Screenrant, John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones play former Hollywood golden couple Eddie and Gwen. They are separated, having to appear together at a press junket. Eddie is lost, heartbroken, and depressed. And he deals with his emotions really badly. Also stars Julia Roberts and Billy Crystal.

Julia Roberts

Buena Vista / courtesy Everett Collection

From BuzzFeed, I Watched Every Single Julia Roberts Rom-Com — So Here They Are, Ranked

****Pretty Woman (1990 on Apple TV+)

**Runaway Bride (1999 on Paramount+)

***My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997 rent)

*Eat, Pray. Love (2010 on Netflix)

***Mystic Pizza (1998 on HBO max)

*Valentine’s Day (2010 on HBO max)

The Mexican (2001 on HBO max), The Mexican is a dark comedy about Brad Pitt as Jerry who works for a gangster and is given the task of retrieving a gun from Mexico. I can’t rate it; I’ve never seen it. Real-life romance alert- Julia Roberts met her current husband while filming this movie.

Sandra Bullock

*****While You Were Sleeping (1995 on Disney+)

**The Lost City (2022 on Prime Video)

*Forces of Nature (1999 on Prime Video)

**Miss Congeniality (2000 rent)

***The Proposal (2009 on Hulu)

*The Lake House (2006 on HBO max) drama/fantasy/romance

**Hope Floats (1998 rent) drama romance

***Practical Magic (1998 rent)

*Love Potion No. 9 (1992 rent)

****Speed (1994 rent) Action/Thriller with a little romance.

George Clooney

**One Fine Day (1996 on Hulu)

Intolerable Cruelity (2003 on Prime Video)

**Ticket to Paradise (2022 on Peacock) with Julia Roberts.

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson

****How to Lose a Guy in 10 days (2003 on Paramount+), An advice columnist, Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson), tries pushing the boundaries of what she can write about in her new piece about how to get a man to leave you in 10 days. Her editor, Lana (Bebe Neuwirth), loves it, and Andie goes off to find a man she can use for the experiment. Enter executive Ben Berry (Matthew McConaughey), who is so confident in his romantic prowess that he thinks he can make any woman fall in love with him in 10 days. When Andie and Ben meet, their plans backfire.

*Fool’s Gold (2008 on HBO max), Treasure hunter Ben “Finn” Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) has sunk his marriage to Tess (Kate Hudson) and his trusty boat in his obsessive quest to find the legendary Queen’s Dowry. When he finds a vital clue that may finally pinpoint the treasure’s whereabouts, he drags Tess and her boss, billionaire Nigel Honeycutt, along on the hunt.

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner in “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.”

***Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009 rent) Matthew McConaughey stars with Jennifer Garner in this romantic comedy about a committed bachelor who gets a wake-up call from his late, legendary, hard-partying Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) and his own Ghosts of girlfriends past.

*Failure to Launch (2006 on Paramount+ and Prime Video), A young man (Matthew McConaughey) continues to live at the home of parents who, in desperation to push him out of the nest once and for all, hatch a plan. Also stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Bradley Cooper.

**The Wedding Planner (2001 on Paramount+) Jennifer Lopez leads this high-scoring rom-com with a strong supporting cast. Can the wedding planner find love?

Kate Hudson

***Almost Famous (2000 on Prime Video) This is more of a drama romance with some funny moments. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe and loosely based on his story.

***About Adam (2001 rent) Temptation takes on a wickedly delicious new flavor in “About Adam,” as every character is seduced. . . all by the same mysterious man: the sinfully sweet Adam (Stuart Townsend). 

***Dr. T and The Women (2000 rent), “Dr. T & The Women is a 2000 American romantic comedy film directed by Robert Altman, featuring an ensemble cast including Richard Gere as wealthy gynecologist Dr. Sullivan Travis (“Dr. T”) and Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Shelley Long, Tara Reid, Kate Hudson, and Liv Tyler as the various women that he encounters in his everyday life.” Wikipedia

**Alex & Emma (2003 on Hulu) A writer must turn out a novel in thirty days or face the wrath of loan sharks. IMDb . Also stars Luke Wilson, directed by Rob Reiner.

*Raising Helen (2004) After her sister and brother-in-law die in a car accident, a young woman becomes the guardian of their three children. IMDb

 *My Best Friend’s Girl (2008 on HBO max), Lovestruck Dustin (Jason Biggs) is dating Alexis (Kate Hudson), his ideal girlfriend, but when she dumps him for coming on too strong, Dustin takes drastic measures to win her back. He asks his pal Tank (Dane Cook) to take her on a horrible date so that she will come running back to him, and Tank happily agrees. However, Alexis is more than a match for Tank’s shock tactics, leaving him torn between loyalty to Dustin and a growing attraction toward Alexis.

*Something Borrowed (2011 on HBO max) Based on a book by Emily Giffen. Also stars Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski. Friendships are tested and secrets come to the surface when terminally single Rachel falls for Dex, her best friend Darcy’s fiancé. IMDb

3 thoughts on “The Rom-Com (part 1)

  1. You truly are the “movie expert”!! That was a thorough and cleverly categorized list of seasonal movies. Uncle Nick and I have been struggling to find a movie we both would enjoy. We watched some on the Academy Awards list; they make me miss the old classics even more!! We enjoyed “Lady in Gold” – more enjoyable for our generation. Aunt JoAnn is watching “The King and I” !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s