Good, old-fashioned romantic comedies are a rare commodity these days. There was a time when romantic comedies consisted of equally smart men and women and their trials with love. These films not only were entertaining but also had something to say about relationships that everyone could relate to or ponder upon as time went by. However, most these decade do not achieve these.
These decade romantic comedies fell under two categories. One is the “bromantic comedy” that deals with men’s love trials. This category produced a few great movies, three of which are on the list (or four if you look at my number four as one). The other is the “Matthew McCounaghey romatic comedy” which consits of a beautiful woman who can have any man she wants but falls for the irresponsible, immature, shirtless, man who she swore never to love.
Finding 10 films that lived up to the standards of those romantic comedies of the past, or some original ones. However, I was able to do it. The list consists of foreign films, animated film, bromances, period pieces, and possibly-dramatic-but-ultimately-funny films. The one thing they have in common is that I, and hopefully others, will enjoy them for many years to come.
Here are my picks for the 10 best romantic comedies of the decade:
10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Nicholas Stroller, 2008
Guy gets dumped, his life is shattered, goes on vacation, possibly find a new woman to love, his girlfriend is also vacationing in the same place and staying in the same hotel. Hilarity ensues. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a break-up movie where the guy is the oen affected the most by the event. Thanks to a great script by Jason Segel (who also stars), good direction by Nicholas Stroller, and great supporting performances form Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russel Brand, and Bill Hader, this movies is hilarious throughout and touching despite some of the gross-out comedy. Every character that is supposed to be likeable is, and those who are not are, which something that most romantic comedies fail to achieve. It also made me crave for “Dracula: The Musical.” Good job everyone, especially Jason Segel.
9. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Woody Allen, 2008
Some people don’t consider this a comedy because it takes a serious look at the relationships of the characters in the movie, but since it has some hilarious moments I do consider it one (after all, it won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy). Combined with those hilarious moments are realistic looks at how love affects people. There’s Vicky (Rebecca Hall) who’s engaged and falls for the dreamy Spanish painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) but has trouble with herself because she wants to stay faithful. There’s Crisitina (Scarlett Johansson) who just wants to have fun and ends up with Juan Antonio, but can’t help but feel jealous when his ex-wife Maria Elena (gets back into his life). The honesty and humor found in Woody Allen’s script (his best this decade) and direction, with great performances from the entire cast, great music, and cinematography, makes this movie a satyisfying experience.
8. 50 First Dates
Peter Segal, 2004
Chemistry between the leads goes a long way when making a romantic comedy. 50 First Dates has a lot of that. While it has many aspects of a typical Adams Sandler comedy (the humor, the supporting cast, etc.) the story is not something that he had done in his comedies at that point. It is a sweet story about a man falling in love who can’t possibly love him back and trying make things work. The movie works because of that, and the aforementioned chemistry between Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and some of the humor, although low-brow, manages to enhance the movie.
7. Something’s Gotta Give
Nancy Meyers, 2003
On the page it seems like any other comedy involving older people, meaning characters either too sour or too quirky that border on annoying. However, the finished product is not. Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton do wonders with the weak script that was given to them. The line delivery, their take on the characters, make for a more enjoyable movie than it should have been. Nancy Meyer’s work as a director is better than her script. The direction is not too stylish, nor does it feel amateurish, again like most romantic comedies these days. And I liked that it ended in an ambiguous note, leaving the audience to decide whether they want to give these two characters a happy ending or not.
6. Pride & Prejudice
Joe Wright, 2005
It may not be a comedy full of belly laughs, but it simply is one of the most delightful romance movies of the decade. Director Joe Wright’s take on Jane Austen’s novel, which has been adapted many times before, feels fresh due to lavishness of the sets and costumes being toned down, but making it up with lush cinematography by Roman Osin. And with Keira Knightley’s surprising fiery performance, as well as the awesome chemistry she has with Matthew Macfayden, and, well, the entire cast, makes Pride& Prejudice one of the most swoon-worthy movies in a long long time.
Andrew Stanton, 2008
Because of it’s ambition to tell a story in a different way than most animated movies, people seem to focus on this movie being a deep study of the loss of humanity and where the world will be in a few years. While it is that, people tend to forget that it is first and foremost a romance. The movie is about WALL-E, who has live alone for as long as he knows, falling in love with the hard-to-get to EVE and the lengths he’ll go to make her fall in love with him. Communicating with only a few bleeps and click, these robots have more personality than most humans in almost every movie in the last few years. That last scene is what romantic comedies are all about, and Hollywood doesn’t seem to grasp that idea.
4. Definitely, Maybe
Adam Brooks, 2008
My love for this movie even surprises me because it has one of my biggest pet peeves in movies, self-awareness. There is a lot of that during the 90s flashbacks, which make up more than half of the movie. However, the reason I love it is because of the story. I like the way in which it is told like a mystery although we already know what the outcome will be. Another reason why I like this so much is because of the cast. Ryan Reynolds is charming, as always, Rachel Weiz and Elizabeth Banks do good jobs in roles that did not demand it, and Isla Fisher gives one of my favorite supporting performances of the decade. It might be a personal thing, but I just love this movie.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001
Although it has a fairly simple story (girl likes to help other, but doesn’t help herself) it is more about what happens in the screen, the little moments, and the journey towards that incredible ending. Word can’t describe how amazing the movie is. One has to watch it to truly understand all the praise it has received.
Adrienne Shelly, 2007
This is one of the movies that after I watched it I felt like everything was alright. It does not have the typical rom-com ending, but it is the only way it could have ended. Sure, it is tough to watch at times but the climax makes it all worthwhile. Keri Russel (in an Oscar-worthy performance) gives one of my favorite performances of the decade as Jenna, a waitress who makes the most delicious pies, but is in a bad relationship and is expecting a baby she doesn’t want. There are also some great supporting performances by Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Siston, Andy Griffith (who deserved an Oscar nominatin as well), and Adrienne Shelly (whose script for this is among my favorites of the decade)
1. Love Actually
Richard Curtis, 2003
The DVD cover of this movie proclaims that it is “The Ultimate Romantic Comedy.” I was skeptical about this until I actually saw it. This movie is ensemble piece, featuring fine performances from the entire cast. Although there are a lot of stories going on, it feels like I knew every character well enough to care about their relationships. Like I said, every actor here is at the top of their game (especially Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman), and they are only helped by Richard Curtis’ great script.
There you have it, these are my picks for the best romantic comedie of the decade. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment about my picks.