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Scott Ware

I'm sure I speak for many readers when I say I'm grateful your blog exists as a standard-bearer for romantic comedies. Thanks also for reminding us to go back and check out these great films.

Perhaps another worthy list could be made up of films that many (or most?) folks found moving in a romantic way, such as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Love Actually," as opposed to conforming to certain criteria, as heartfelt and well-reasoned as it is.

Because love can be messy, as well as our feelings about these movies.

Perhaps both lists could "just get along?" As this isn't exactly the action-adventure genre, it would seem possible :)

mernitman

Scott: Thank you for the elegant "get out of jail free" card you offer. I'm already getting heat for the Love Actually call, understandably, though I'm happy to see nobody's picking up the pitchforks (yet) for my inclusion of Wall-E...

E.C. Henry

Billy,

How is "Shaun of the Dead" a romantic comedy? I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago on cable, and it thought it was a "bad" zombie moive. Also how is "Meet the Parents" a romantic comedy? I've seen this one too, and its dominating force of attraction is the rift between the central characters played by Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

What about the rom-com movie, "13 Going on 30"? No love for that? Need I remind you it has a cast comprising of: Judy Greer, Andy Sirkis, Jennifer Garner, and Mark Ruffalo.

Lists are cool, you should do your top 25 romantic comedies of all-time, as I remember from your "Writing the Romantic Comedy" book that you know A LOT of romantic comedies, currious what your all-time favorites are, not just the ones from a 10 year block.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

mernitman

EC: Since you asked, it says so right on the poster ("It's a romantic comedy - with zombies" http://latimesherocomplex.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/shaunofthedead-poster.jpg), but less facetiously, the movie's plot beats conform exactly (and consciously) to the rom-com paradigm, and the central gag of the story's entire Act 1 is: "boy's so obsessed with keeping girlfriend that he doesn't notice London being taken over by a zombie horde," while the character-driven through-line is: only by defeating zombies can boy win girl in the end.

As to "Parents," you've got a valid point, but it's a combo-platter: movie's premise is "winning Dad over so I can marry girl" (the picture starts with Stiller practicing his marriage proposal, and the through-line is his trying to sustain his relationship in spite of Dad), so I see the movie as a bromance AND romantic comedy.

Re: "13" we get into subjectivity and taste, i.e. it's a movie I like, but I don't see it (personally) as one of the "top." Your love for it does make me want to view it again, though! For the list of my other all-time faves, hit on the link in this post's first para. And as always, thanks for weighing in - Happy Valentine's Day, dude!

OlliS

I'm just going to grumble.

I haven't seen Meet the Parents, only one of the sequels–I forget which. I assume the original must've been better, because hooo boy the one I saw was a bloated dead body of a whale. Only sparks of life came when De Niro went head to head with Harvel Keitel.

So how'd you rank the sequels?

Another one I've a hard time understanding–which, by the way, isn't the same as agreeing–is The Proposal. It's one of the few movies I've walked out of.

The cliches and the stereotypes were clogging my arteries, so I just had to leave the theater before having a stroke.

Again, a question: what made The Proposal work for you?

mernitman

Thank you, OlliS, for keeping me honest: The "Parents" sequels suck, especially the third, which no one should ever have to sit through, but the first one is pretty damn funny. Meanwhile, my embrace of "Proposal" is indefensible: The sane me knows that it's silly-stupid dreck, yet I always get sucked into its goofy vortex when I come upon it; this and the movie's astonishing popularity make me grudgingly tip a hat to its plumbing of a certain zeitgeist hot spot: out of all the "Career Girl Gets Alpha Guy" movies, it's one of the only ones I know of that actually takes on, however glancingly, the issue of gender-reversal power dynamics in the contemporary workplace (with a tacit older woman-younger man subtext, no less), extra points for arguably being the most watchable Ryan Reynolds movie, and because: Betty White. See what I mean? Indefensible.

Caroline Godin

Do all the Nicholas Sparks movies not count because they're all kind of sad endings ... thinking of The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle in particular.

I would also humbly suggest that Return to Me should go on the runner up list.

Not sure I'd have put Meet the Parents on the list but I have no issue with Wall-E! I loved it and cried a river at the ending.

Sue Hepworth

THANK GOD you left out Love Actually, Billy.
Your list makes me think it was a pretty thin decade. Let's hope for something even better in the years to come.
My favourites of all time?
The Philadelphia Story, When Harry met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Tootsie, Before Sunset, Moonstruck, Charade, Breakfast at Tiffany's and.......how does Casablanca fit with your definition?

mernitman

Caroline: Yeah, the Sparks movies are romantic dramas. Return to Me is a good one and definitely rates further exploration.

I'm ready to move Meet the Parents from Top 10 to Runner-Up, because in truth, I think (500 Days) is a far more interesting rom-com, and you're not alone in calling its inclusion into question, so...

Sue: Ah, Charade...! A longtime personal fave that made a huge impression on me in my youth. Casablanca is a romantic drama. But check my earlier post's list against your favorites, and you'll see quite a lot of overlap.

mernitman

To one and all: In the interest of Life After Valentine's Day, I've compulsively revised the list, taking your responses into account. Two of my "Alternates" (in truth, two personal faves) have been swapped out with two Top 10ers, the controversial Meet the Parents and (widely mocked) The Proposal.

MaryAn Batchellor

My grumble is in the direction of Knocked Up. No matter how many times I see it, what I do not see are characters falling, stumbling, growing, or diving head first into love. We blink and it is like we missed that whole act.

Christina

Great post! But I see one glaring omission. How about Before Sunset? 2004. I think that is one of the best endings in a love story ever.

"Baby, you are gonna miss that plane."
"I know."

Another indie rom com I love is Tao of Steve from 2000. Did you see that one? I still watch it once a year. Donal Logue!

mernitman

MaryAn: You and I have the same complaint - what's missing in Knocked is, in fact, the "how they fall in love" beats - nowhere to be seen; we're supposed to take it on faith. A glaring hole... and yet the movie is one of the most influential pics (for better and worse) of the decade, helped reinvigorate and keep the genre alive in the back end of the 2000s... and is really, really funny.

Cristina: I totally share your love for the ending of Sunset - one of my favorite last line exchanges ever... but the rest of the movie is less-than-great, in my book (I can't remember much of it at all, to be honest, and Sunrise is definitely the stronger entry). Very much liked the Tao! Would like to see it again...

Sue Hepworth

I don't think there are memorable plot points in Before Sunset, but I was mesmerised from beginning to end..

MARTIN

One of my personal favourites was Definitely, Maybe. I thought that was a wonderful film.

mernitman

Sue: Fair enough.

MARTIN: Def Maybe is getting lots of love in these parts - Adam Brooks is an old friend, and in truth, I worked on the film in my capacity as story analyst at Universal. I love the "which one's your mom?" conceit of the film, and its ambition (i.e. the social history involved). But I see it as more of a "personal favorite" and a "sleeper" than a top ten rom-com of the decade that would generally be deemed the cream of the crop.

John

That's a much stronger list with the revision. I think you're penalizing Definitely, Maybe because of your connection to it: every single person I know that actually saw it thinks it's one of the better rom-coms they've seen in a REALLY long time.

My list:

High Fidelity
Sidewalks of New York
Lost in Translation
Love Actually
Eternal Sunshine
Before Sunset
Sideways
Wedding Crashers
Definitely, Maybe
500 Days

I think Sidewalks is an overlooked gem and is one of Ed Burns' best films.

Wedding Crashers could easily come off for an Apatow (40YOV or Knocked Up), depending on the day of the week.

Frank Conniff

By excluding Love Actually, you've assured yourself a place in heaven.

mernitman

John: Nice list. You may be right about Def Maybe. But you're underrating the importance of Apatow - the 2000s was his decade; one can't have a top 10 of the 2000s without either Virgin or Knocked Up in the mix. Crashers is a great movie, but those two were game-changers.

Frank: Thank you for giving me something to look forward to.

Patrick

I'm kind of late, again, but - it's not you, it's me, I guess, not that crazy about most of this list. The Seth Rogen character in Knocked Up was such a slovenly person I could never see the Heigel character having anything to do with him. Mostly I just didn't find the characters appealing. I really like Lost in Translation but not quite sure of its romantic comedy-ness. Eternal Sunshine would be my favorite of this list, think that one will be around for a while.

I go along with the Definitely Maybe crowd, liked that one a bunch, I think it could replace all but two of the picks on the list. Here is one that just about only I seemed to like, more reviled even than Love Actually, and that is How Do You Know? Maybe it's just my thing for Reese Witherspoon on that one, since no one seemed to like it.

mernitman

Patrick: Clearly we're in "agree to disagree" territory. Again, even though I also agree that the "why did she fall in love with him?" question isn't satisfactorily answered in Knocked Up, this movie was inarguably the date movie game-changer of the decade (go ahead; Name me a 2000s rom-com that was more influential), and for that reason, not just because "I like it," it makes the list. Meanwhile, we're potato-poTAHto on How Do You Know? which I don't think most people would see as James L. Brooks' finest hour... but that's what makes horse-racing, eh?

Rob in L.A.

I'm here to discharge my customary gainsaying: I don't think of "High Fidelity" as a rom-com because the film is more about Rob (Cusack) maturing than about Rob and Laura (was Hornby a "Dick Van Dyke Show" fan?) becoming a couple. I feel that "Sideways" is in a similar camp. Otherwise, terrific, fun, and thought-provoking list.

My work here is done.

Judith Duncan

Hey Billy,
It's been a while since I checked in,I've been crowdfunding...oh god relentless self promotion is exhausting. I had to give myself a break. It's a rainy Sunday afternoon and as I sit here at my laptop reading your ten best list I found myself sayin out loud,"Yes,Yes,Yes,Yes, and when I got to Amelie Oh Yes!" Goodness kn0ws what the neighbours think? Luckily I have my blinds pulled.
Cheers,
Judith

mernitman

Rob: I, too, have always wondered about the odd Rob & Laura Van Dyke-ism of it all... Subject for further research.

Judith: Let the neighbors think what they will! Happy to be a source of pleasure... ;->

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