Romantic Comedies that are Actually Romantic

I know I’ve been doing a lot of posts lately.  What can I say- I’ve just been in the mood!  As everyone knows Valentines Day is coming up next Monday.  Fake holiday or not, it does tend to bring a girl’s mind to the romantic. I’m too old for visions of knights in shining armor and long passionate kisses but still the idea of falling in love has its mystery.  It is the great unknown in life.  When will it happen?  Who will it be with?  Is he walking by me right now? Have I known him forever and not known it…

While I don’t believe in ‘the one’ or fate, I do believe that God directs us in our lives to what we need.  There may not be ‘the one’, but I don’t think there are 150 ‘just rights for Rachel’ running around. If there are, they certainly do a good job hiding themselves!

Anyway, today I spent a few minutes filling out valentines for my sisters and nieces (the real loves of my life!).  As I signed my name to Disney Princess cards I began thinking about romantic movies and books.  My internet friend Forest Hartman recently put out an interesting article (he’s a movie reviewer I follow) of “romantic comedies that are actually funny.”  The point of his list is that most movies prescribed as romantic comedies are more romantic dramas or at best straight romances.

While I agree with this basic point, I do not agree with most of his selections, which include many of the modern raunch-filled, hard-R movies such as Something Like Mary, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  I must confess to only seeing one of these movies, I did not find it funny or romantic.  I was too distracted by all the adult content. A movie doesn’t have to be PG rated, but I usually wish the adult content was left out.

If my humble opinion were taken into account a romantic movie should be funny but it should also be innocent and tender.  A true genius like Cary Grant knew how to build romantic tension while still keeping the characters likable and funny.  All the sex and foul language make characters less sympathetic and ruin the romantic tension.  What’s it all leading to if sex is already off the table? Getting married? I guess but that’s not as tense and funny?

I guess I am just too old-fashioned for modern romance but considering modern romance includes three movies last year where women went to sperm banks maybe that’s a good thing? To some it might sound crazy but I believe in a romance where a girl meets a guy, they fall in love, overcome struggles, stay morally clean, get married, and have a family.  Isn’t it a little scary that this notion sounds archaic?

I am willing to make some exceptions.  For instance, I love Juno but I feel like the character learns from her mistakes and finds love.  The movie certainly doesn’t treat sex and love as nothing.  I also liked the movie Last Chance Harvey which was more of a drama but about real people who fall in love because of common interests not from stupid bets, competitions, pratfalls, and meaningless sex?

Almost all of the romantic comedies I have seen in the last 10 years have been awful- and most of them starring Jennifer Lopez, Ashton Kutchor, Kathrine Hiegel, or Matthew Mcconaughey.  Why do I keep going you ask? Good question.  Most of the time I give into peer pressure, figuring I’d rather see a lame rom com then be alone.  Tough call? Lately I have seen much better romantic movies on lifetime and hallmark channel original movies!

The main point is these movies are not romantic.  They aren’t even sexy or exciting.  The characters usually hate each other and are hateful throughout the film and then we’re supposed to believe ‘poof ‘ they fall in love.  They are also put through ridiculous impediments to their love- mainly because the right impediment, chastity before marriage, is considered a joke.

So to borrow Forest’s title I’m going to suggest a list of ‘romantic comedies that are actually romantic. I sincerely tried to think of a few selections in the last decade but could only come up with two.  Most of them are much older. It is a great list.  I highly recommend ordering them on netflix now and enjoying them with your honey on Valentines Day.  What movies do you find romantic?

1. His Girl Friday- the rom-com that all others have been copying for 70 years.  The way to do snappy dialogue and opposites attract right.

2. Shop Around the Corner/ You’ve Got Mail (2 different movies, same plot, both wonderful)

3. When Harry Met Sally (this one does have a tiny bit of adult language) but great Nora Ephron dialogue.  I love her!

4. Talk of the Town- may be hard to find but worth the effort.  A philosophic romantic comedy! Can borrow from me if you want.

5. Bringing Up Baby- if you want a rom com that is super funny this is it.

6. Roman Holiday- perfect for Valentines. Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck in Rome- perfection!

7. Return to Me- a bit of a stretch as a comedy but has comedic moments and I love it. I also love that they manage to fall in love without her taking her shirt off to show her scar.  Most Hollywood movies would find such a notion unrealistic.

8. Clueless- hilarious. based on Jane Austen’s Emma! (Mostly funny for those who went to high school in my era.)

9. 500 Days of Summer- wildly creative, love the ending, a few adult moments.

10. Moonstruck- family, betrayal, anger, love, humor and opera- great script and good performance from Cher! Who’d a thunk it?

11. Juno- I have to do an 11. The dialogue is a bit glib but I love it.  I think it is funny and romantic and tender.

Happy Valentines Day!  I love you all!


10 thoughts on “Romantic Comedies that are Actually Romantic

    1. thanks. I don’t think there is much I love more then a good movie. Too bad so many of them fail to impress. Last year I liked Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, and Tangled. Once again mostly kids movies!

      1. I just want to clarify that by no means are movies from the 50’s free of innuendo or full of chaste characters. Certain films have quite a bit but it is not done in the open, vulgar way of modern romantic comedies- to me subtly is sexier, more romantic and funnier.

  1. i agree with you totally. there is so much to be said about the “innocents” of some of the classic movies. i could watch some of the classics a hundred times and still laugh but more importantly feel connected with the characters. i think that too often in modern romantic comedies there isn’t any kind of character development, just casual encounters and random pitfalls. i would recommend “bedtime stories” as an excellent modern romantic comedy. it was made by disney but stars Adam Sandler. its a child friendly movie also, so the adult content is really, really low. i feel as if they develop the main characters and make the eventual ending of boy gets girl seem more deserved.

    1. thanks Mary. I will have to check out that movie. Oddly enough I think some of the best movies and even romances of the last 20 years have been for kids. For instance, I loved Tangled.

  2. Good list of movies– but I think there is something wrong with the idea of an ‘old-fashioned’ romance. I think the whole concept of a man and a woman falling in love, staying morally pure, getting married, having a family is a social norm we as a society push on people when for many it’s completely unrealistic. I think there should be something romantic about a sperm bank, or choosing to have sex before marriage, even though they deviate from the norm. My biggest problem with romantic comedies is that they don’t show enough of these other options outside of the tradition family unit (man woman 3 kids dog).

    1. thanks for your comment. Its always interesting to hear a different perspective.

      Obviously I believe in traditional marriage but my critique is more nuanced. I think older movies are funnier because the sexual tension creates humor. In current movies everything is so out in the open that there is no unknown, no tension. They usually try to create tension by having a bet, game, competition or some other impediment to love but I think these gimmicks usually are lame and unfunny.

      I am surprised to hear you say that rom coms don’t show enough alternative lifestyles. In my view, I have a hard time thinking of examples of traditional couples in modern movies. Almost all of them have sex or live together before marriage. There are many couples who believe in chastity before marriage, but you wouldn’t think there were any by watching recent rom coms.

      There are some exceptions, I thought He’s Just That Into You was a good example of a rom com that profiled many different types of relationships (although none of them strict traditionalists) in a funny and insightful way. In the end, I just want something funny and romantic.

      Anyway, perhaps my argument is mute because art should be reflecting the era of its creation and film is certainly art. Still, I wish the rom coms would have better scripts and more likable characters. It is a tough genre.
      Thanks again for the comment. It made me think.

  3. Reblogged this on Smilingldsgirl's Weblog and commented:

    I am writing this romantic chick lit book. Made me think of all of these wonderful romantic movies. So few good one’s made nowdays. What are some of your favorites?

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