February gives us one big holiday with Valentine’s Day. The focus on romance may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it is at least worth a few laughs. Our crew calls out a few of our favorite romantic comedies.
I can recapture the joy of my favorite romantic comedies in just one image or scene. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from re-watching the entire movies anyway. My favorite moments include:
The final scene of Sixteen Candles, from “Me?” – “Yeah, you!” to the kiss over the birthday cake. The “I love Josh” realization moment in Clueless. The girls singing Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” in the cab of the truck in Mystic Pizza. The rain-soaked kiss in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “As you wish,” from Princess Bride. Finally, the iconic boombox scene from Say Anything, with John Cusack playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”
I’m old school. I grew up watching old movies on TV late at night, which led me to believe a proper romantic comedy stars Cary Grant. One of my all-time favorite movies is 1938’s madcap Bringing Up Baby. Grant co-stars with Katherine Hepburn and romance blooms even as mayhem ensues. For a more romantic feel, 1954’s Sabrina, starring Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn, has everything that young me loved: a Cinderella story, gorgeous outfits and a millionaire (older me has settled for comfortable sweats and a steady paycheck). A more modern film that makes me believe in love is 1989’s When Harry Met Sally. It shows romance can be found with a friend.
While love and romance are staples of good storytelling, romantic comedies should stay focused on the comedy. The 40-Year-Old Virgin tops the list in this respect. With a great cast and nonstop laughs, watching middle-aged Andy (Steve Carell) look for love in all the wrong places is both hilarious and endearing. If you’re looking for more traditional romantic comedy fare, The Wedding Singer should fit the bill. While Adam Sandler can be very hit or miss, his chemistry with Drew Barrymore is undeniable, and the ’80s-themed film brings plenty of laughs and feel-good moments to the table.
Even in dystopian films about cannibals (Delicatessen, 1991) and child kidnappers (The City of Lost Children, 1995), one can tell that French writer/director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has a keen sense of romance, and he brought that to the forefront with his solo 2001 film Amélie. Starring a radiant Audrey Tautou as the titular cafe waitress, Amélie tells the story of an imaginative soul who, shocked by the sudden death of Princess Diana, decides to bring happiness and love to those around her (and may find it for herself). The time seems right to revisit the color, whimsy and goodness of this little charmer.