I’ve endured numerous romantic comedies while searching for the tolerable ones, and honestly there are quite a few both men and women will enjoy. Without further ado, here’s a list that any film lover could enjoy.
It may just be a play on the “Odd Couple” story, but Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds spice up what could have been just another romantic comedy. Bullock is an evil book editor and Ryan Reynolds is her overworked assistant who, in order to save his job, pretends to be Bullock’s fiancé so she isn’t deported to Canada. Reynolds takes Bullock home to meet his parents, and surprise! Craig T. Nelson is the dad. Betty White also lights up the film as Reynolds’ grandmother, and the interaction between Bullock and White is at some moments priceless. This one is not overly sappy, so it has gender appeal on both sides.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall””
Honestly, one of my favorite comedies of all time. Jason Segel (one of my favorite actors) stars as a commercial music producer who gets dumped by his movie star girlfriend, played by Kristen Bell. He still uses his pre-planned honeymoon, however, and he ends up running into his ex, who is dating a washed-up British rock star played by Russell Brand. Jonah Hill and Mila Kunis co-star. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard — I clearly remember having a headache while watching it — and one scene in particular, involving all four of the main characters in compromising positions, is one of the most inspired moments in a Judd Apatow production. Ever.
“(500) Days of Summer”
One of the more original romance films in a while, “Summer” is a relatively simple boy-meets- girl story with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The twist? The movie begins with their break up. Gordon-Levitt spends most of the movie trying to understand where it went wrong. “Summer” is a quirky indie romance, and while it may not be laugh-a-minute both stars cement their leading role status. Plus, it has one of the best dance sequences over the last decade of film.
“The Family Stone”
“The Family Stone” features a rather routine plot, but the cast involved elevates the proceedings. Sarah Jessica Parker is engaged to Dermot Mulroney, and he brings her home to meet his parents, played by the always-classy Craig T. Nelson and Diane Keaton. She’s not the girl his family expects, and his mother makes it quite clear. Did I mention Rachel McAdams plays Mulroney’s sister? And Luke Wilson plays his brother? And Claire Danes shows up? The cast alone is enough to warrant a viewing, but the tension between Parker and Keaton, as well as the tension between Parker and McAdams, drives plenty of humor.
Jason Reitman is one of my favorite directors, and the Reitman-Diablo Cody collaboration for “Juno” brought some of the last decade’s snappiest dialogue. Ellen Page stars as the title character, a high schooler who becomes pregnant and puts the baby up for adoption. However, the couple on the receiving end, played by Jason Bateman (also one of my favorite actors) and Jennifer Garner, have a few secrets of their own. The back-and-forth between Page and her parents is well written, and Bateman plays a character a bit darker than the typical straight man.
Here’s another film where the plot leaves much to be desired, but the performances are quite entertaining. Meryl Streep plays a bakery owner who begins to have an affair with her ex-husband, played by Alec Baldwin, who left her years ago for a younger woman. At the same time, she starts a relationship with her architect, played by Steve Martin. See? It’s complicated! It’s also priceless when Streep’s character takes a marijuana hit. More importantly, it’s a decent Valentine’s Day choice because the plot isn’t very heavy.
“Midnight in Paris”
Woody Allen’s Oscar nominee features Owen Wilson as an American novelist who comes to Paris with his wife, Rachel McAdams (Readers are going to see a pattern here.) Every night at Midnight, Wilson is transported to a bar filled with famous novelists including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a boy-girl love story; it’s a love letter to Paris, and a love letter to literature. Wilson’s character is clearly a younger Woody Allen, and I’m glad Allen chose to let someone step in as his typical neurotic character. It’s certainly different, but worth the time.
“Crazy, Stupid, Love”
What would happen if “Crash” were a romantic comedy? Okay, maybe that’s not the best example, but this romance features Steve Carell, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and many others in various love stories that address dating, yearning and near-end relationships. And, of course, everything connects. The film is equal parts comedy and drama, and it is nice to see Carell leave his comfort zone. Julianne Moore deserves special recognition as Carell’s character’s soon-to-be-ex wife.
“Silver Linings Playbook”
This 2013 Best Picture nominee proves why Jennifer Lawrence is a force to be reckoned with. Lawrence plays a 22-year-old widow who has a love- hate relationship with Bradley Cooper’s character, a clinically depressed man whose wife cheated on him with his co-worker. The relationship certainly isn’t traditional, but the chemistry is incredibly high and the film balances the bleaker moments with hope. It was also #3 on my Top Movies of 2012 list, so now is the chance for readers to see what all the hype is about.