Romantic Comedies

Sabrina-WilderSo apparently, winter is the time when we especially want a nice snuggly romantic comedy.  To me, this makes heaps of sense (warm fuzzy feeling = warmth period), but being generally attracted to romance in general, I watch my rom coms in all kinds of weather.  After all, they work when it’s sunny.  They work when it’s rainy.  Whether it’s cloudy and dry, or blistery and cold, I love romantic comedies.

I’m pretty stringent, though, in my requirements, and I stick very closely to the words “romantic” and “comedy.”  Mate, if it’s not funny, it’s not a comedy.  And romantic is not synonymous with sappy.  I have to simultaneously not gag and be able to see this couple together ten years in the future.  And as with romance novels, I find it pretty hard to enjoy a romantic comedy if I don’t sympathize with the protagonist, especially if we’re talking about a heroine.

The best romantic comedies are 90 minutes of zinger and fun, and just like the best romance novels, they leave me happy and feeling good about life and love.  With that in mind, here is a list of my favourite romantic comedies, in no particular order:

  • Never Been Kissed (1995) – Drew Barrymore is so loveable, so adorable, despite her massive slip-ups and hang-ups, that I watch it again and again to see her smile.  And even though there are some really questionable ethical boundaries crossed in the romance, hey, it’s a movie. 
  • The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – You’ve Got Mail is good, but Shop Around the Corner is better.  The original “I love the guy I hate, particularly since I didn’t know they were one and the same,” with James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan.
  • The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996) – The world needs more Janeane Garofalo.  She’s a splendid actress and here makes a great heroine: Wise-cracking, smart, a little insecure, but not a whole lot self-pitying.  The plot hits all my buttons: Average-looking radio host likes cute guy, who likes her gorgeous neighbor (Uma Thurman) but who likes talking to Janeane Garofalo even more.  Fabulous.
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – A friend once observed that the difference between Bridget Jones and Shopaholic’s Becky Bloomwood is that although both heroines make fantastic, cringe-worthy mistakes, Becky is fundamentally dishonest about her faults, whereas Bridget acknowledges them and tries to fix them.  That, in a nutshell, is why I love Bridget Jones.  And Colin Firth is just a bonus.
  • Sabrina (1954) – Nothing wrong with the Julia Ormond version, but it’s not nearly as light-hearted and sparkly as the original.  Perhaps the comparisons aren’t quite fair, though.  To me, no one can replace Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden. 
  • About a Boy (2002) – Hugh Grant at his most selfish, and to me, at his most likable.  His character is the ultimate couch potato, living off of the royalties of his father’s one-hit-wonder.  The real draw is his interaction with a twelve-year-old boy, but there’s also a  nice romance with Rachel Weisz.  I sometimes wonder if she would ever truly accept him for who is he, but I think the film sets up his transformation with convinction, and I can believe that he has grown up enough. 

There are many other comedies, romantic or not, that I really like, but I didn’t include them here for one reason or another.  I will mention When Harry Met Sally, which I know is defined as a romantic comedy and which I love a lot.  But to me, it’s not romantic because I cannot see Harry and Sally lasting.  I really can’t.  I think eventually they’ll divorce; hopefully it would be amicable, but I think she’s too neurotic and he’s too cynical to make it together.

Now it’s your turn: Which romantic comedies are on your list?  What are your requirements for a good romantic comedy?

- Jean AAR

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