Valentine’s Day has barely past, but the smell of chocolate still wafts through the air. Much like Christmas, the advertising was everywhere. You couldn’t even fire up your favorite streaming service without being assaulted by oodles of kissy kissy flicks.
I’ll be frank: romantic comedies are not my favorite film genre. I’d rather watch something from the bottom of Uwe Boll’s oeuvre than watch another movie about a schmuck failing to fall in love over and over again.
That being said, there are a few romantic comedies I tolerate. Like, five of them. Hey, that’s enough for a list! Here we go!
5. Arthur (1981)
I’m talking about the original, not the Russell Brand abortion of a remake from 2011. Nominated for four Academy Awards and winning two of them, this odd romantic comedy follows the titular rich alcoholic (Dudley Moore) falling in love with Linda (Liza Minnelli). Alas, his family wants him to wed hoity-toity Susan (Jill Eikenberry) or he’ll lose his family fortune. Many of the jokes in writer-director Steven Gordon’s script are dark and droll. Both funny and depressing, Arthur is the film that lies between the moon and New York City.
4. Love Actually (2003)
Love Actually is the romantic comedy version of The Expendables. Starring every comedic British actor worth a damn (including the late Alan Rickman), it crams 20 lbs. of plot into a 10 lb. bag. Despite its narrative overcompensation, there are several winning performances. Daniel (Liam Neeson) giving his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) the lessons of love is a subplot that manages to be moving, just on the right edge of twee.
3. Trainwreck (2015)
Aside from her blistering appearances on a handful of Comedy Central roasts, I’m not too familiar with Amy Schumer. That’s why it was a pleasant surprise to see how slick she played the lead in Trainwreck, the latest lengthy Judd Apatow flick. Schumer also scripted this quirky tale that mixes love, sports medicine, and Billy Joel standards. The real surprise is how Schumer holds her own in dramatic scenes opposite SNL veteran Colin Quinn.
2. Annie Hall (1977)
Woody Allen has written, directed, and starred in more romantic comedies than I have fingers and toes, yet his old chestnut Annie Hall rises above them all. Detailing the well-trodden path of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy dates other girl, boy rebounds with the first girl, Annie Hall hits so hard because it’s so true. A famous ending joke involving chickens and eggs is a real gut puncher. I need the eggs, indeed.
1. I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
This unseen gem matches up Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor in a tale based on a true story. Corporate malfeasance and prison romance rarely make good partners, but I Love You Phillip Morris is the exception to the rule. Carrey delivers his best performance since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while McGregor delivers a subtle performance with a relatively decent stab at a Southern accent. I Love You Phillip Morris is the best romantic comedy you’ve never seen.
Article by contributor Mat-Bradley Tschirgi.