Collage by Chloe Leeson
When romantic comedies are bad, they’re really bad. This is coming from someone who’s willingly sat through the hell that is Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. (Sadly, I enjoyed that more than The Wedding Planner, which goes to say how bad that is) So believe me, I know. But when romantic comedies are good, they can be great. Satisfying the hopeless romantic in all of us, giving us unrealistic expectations of love while simultaneously tickling our funny bone. Here are my top five favorite romantic comedies, what I consider to be some of the best of the genre.
When Harry Met Sally
This is definitely the cream of the crop, the best romantic comedy of all time. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have astonishing chemistry together as friends who navigate the ultimate question “Can men and women ever really be friends?” Billy Crystal as Harry believes that they can’t because sex will always get in the way. After years and years of friendship, Harry and Sally finally cross the lines of love, friendship, and sex and see what becomes of that. The movie also features one of the best scenes and quotes of all time, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Harry’s ending monologue makes my heart melt every time. Every New Years Eve I dream of having something like that happen to me one day. (Is that lame? Wouldn’t you want to hear this?? “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Sighhh.) When Harry Met Sally set a new standard for the romantic comedy genre that many have failed to meet.
Frankie and Johnny
This movie is SO underrated and I absolutely love it. But I may be a bit biased because I am kind of a little bit in love with Al Pacino. Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino star as a waitress and a cook at a New York greasy spoon. There’s hilarious supporting characters- most notably Nathan Lane as her gay roommate. (It’s not as cliché as it sounds, I promise.) Al Pacino gives an endearing performance. Sometimes his character can seem a bit pushy- a guy that can’t take no for an answer. But she does feel something for him, and he knows it. She’s just afraid. Michelle Pfeiffer’s character Frankie has had relationship problems in the past- ones that aren’t fully revealed until the end. She gives an incredible performance of a woman that is so much more than someone who’s been wounded. She’s not just a cliché of a woman that has been hurt in the past, but a fully realized character with many layers. What is important about Frankie and Johnny’s relationship is that he is not made out to be someone that saves her, but someone that she can walk shoulder to shoulder with through the bad times. As Johnny says in the film, “I know I can’t the make the bad go away. You’re right, I can’t. But when the bad comes again, I am gonna be next to you.” Frankie and Johnny is a sweet film about the fragility of human relationships, and about letting your guard down to open yourself up to the possibilities of others and the world around you.
Jerry Maguire is considered to be “guys” romantic comedy, a sports flick mixed with romance and comedy. What I love about Jerry Maguire as a rom-com is that it doesn’t follow the typical formula. This isn’t a boy meets girl story that ends with them walking down the aisle. What makes the film unique is that this couple rushes into things- they get married in a whirlwind and are not really sure if it was the right decision or not. The famous “You complete me” scene may seem cheesy after becoming a part of the pop culture pantheon, but Tom Cruise completely sells it. In fact, it’s great to see Tom Cruise in what he was like at his prime. He gives a dazzling performance, he truly is (was? Have we really seen a great performance from him lately?) a magnetic actor that is capable of great work. Director Cameron Crowe once again proves himself to be a visionary- one with a flair for great camera work and soundtracks to complement it. Songs from artists such as Paul McCartney, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen appear in the film, and it ends with Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm”. The song highlights the shot of Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger walk together arm in arm, they’ve finally found someone in their lives to shelter them from the storms of life.
Silver Linings Playbook
This movie makes me so happy, and mostly because it has dancing in it. Put a dance scene in a movie and you will automatically win me over. However, I understand that the film has some problems for people. Many feel that it oversimplifies bipolar disorder. Or that Jennifer Lawrence is miscast as the widow with a dark past. And that 40-year-old Bradley Cooper paired with a 23-year-old Jennifer Lawrence is a bit much. (This I agree with- but they have GREAT chemistry) I love the overall plot and relationships in the film- when Pat and Tiffany make a deal to perform in the dance contest in exchange for a favor, and Pat’s chaotic but close-knit and caring family that fervently root for the Philadelphia Eagles. I feel that it could’ve so easily been a wacky family comedy or cheesy rom-com, but it’s much more.
Benny and Joon
Benny and Joon is definitely one of the most creative, unique, and off-beat romantic comedies out there. The title characters do not refer to the couple themselves, but rather the female lead and her brother. Joon, played by Mary Staurt Masterson, and Sam, played by Johnny Depp, are not the typical couple that you usually see portrayed in film. Sam is shy, cannot read or write, and has an affinity for silent film star Buster Keaeton. Joon has a mental illness that is never explicitly stated, although Wikipedia states it as schizophrenia. They strike up an unlikely friendship and eventually fall in love. Joon’s brother, Benny, is worried and enraged at this. He feels that both of them do not have the tools to survive in the modern world, and that Joon cannot live independently. He has taken care of her for so many years since their parents died, so naturally he feels some possessiveness. Benny and Joon could have fallen into traps of mawkishness and oversaturated quirkiness but it truly has a lot of heart, humor, and gracefulness to the story. Sam and Joon have a sweet connection and the film has an eccentric charm.
Caroline was raised out of steel in the swamps of Jersey, a 23-year-old film junkie and feminist. She loves anything from the feel-good Hollywood classics to slasher films, from the magical Studio Ghibli to Vietnam War movies. Her favorite director is Martin Scorsese, especially when he’s directing Robert De Niro. It’s nearly impossible to pick her favorite movies without listing tons of them, but a few of them are Amadeus, King Kong, When Harry Met Sally, Raging Bull, The Godfather, Jaws, and An American Werewolf in London. Her absolute favorite will always be The Lord of the Rings. Her tumblr is cinematicvisons , she blogs about film at cinematicvisions (same name, different place) and her twitter is crolinss.
Categories: Anything and Everything