For decades, romantic comedies have been considered by the film-going masses to be little more than chick flicks, designated as lighter fare that falls more into the guilty-pleasure viewing category than, say, Scorsese’s latest film. But with the modern era of 24-hour news cycles and social media addiction, there’s nothing like watching two people fall in love to briefly quell the existential angst. These movies allow you to get lost in the moment-by-moment nuances of courtship, and supply you with a hefty dose of witty banter, unlike a plot-heavy piece of Oscar bait.
Despite a lack of movies starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan these days, the genre is experiencing a resurgence, with new movies coming out all of the time and old classics finding new audiences. Streaming services are popping out original content faster than it can be consumed, with hidden gems on every platform imaginable. On Netflix alone, there are enough titles to keep you in the world of meet-cutes and quirky dates until you run out of popcorn. Luckily for you, we did the heavy lifting to whittle down the list to 11 rom com picks, including something for every kind of audience-whether you’re a genre devotee or a reluctant viewer, sci-fi fan or more into teen nostalgia.
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Valentine’s Day is one of those movies with an ensemble cast, focusing more on how the different characters’ lives intersect than on any one story in particular. And frankly, with a cast as star studded as this one, featuring Jessica Alba, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, George Lopez, Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift, just to name a few, it almost doesn’t matter what the plot is. This heartwarming movie might not blow you away, but it is a perfect choice if you’re looking to watch something that you can scroll Instagram to without feeling guilty.
A Cinderella Story
While technically a romantic comedy made for a teenage audience, A Cinderella Story holds up for viewers of any age. Hilary Duff plays the updated version of Cinderella, forced to live with her cruel stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) after her father (Dennis Quaid) passes away. The impressive cast also features Regina King as the fairy-godmother of sorts, and Chad Michael Murray as none other than the “Prince Charming”. With the quick pacing typical of a movie geared towards teens and fun, campy set design, this movie makes for a great movie night pick with friends, and is very re-watchable.
The premise of two people pretending to be a couple, only to end up falling in love in the end, predates the existence of filmmaking itself. Spoiler alert: Holidate} is one of those fake-couple-becomes-real-couple movies. But we don’t watch romantic comedies to wonder if the leads will get together in the end, it’s all about seeing the process of how it happens. In this case, Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey play the main characters, who fall in love while pretending to be a couple for the sole purpose of being able to bring someone home for the holidays.
Set It Up
Indie darling Zoey Deutch is infinitely charming opposite Glen Powell in the clever romantic comedy Set It Up. The movie achieves a unique self-awareness as Deutch and Powell’s characters work together to set up their overbearing bosses, orchestrating meet-cutes and spying on them relentlessly in the hopes of creating a relationship that will get their employers off their backs once and for all. Of course, in the process of scheming to create love where there is none, their organic feelings for one another develop. It might seem formulaic, but the payoff is decidedly worth the watch.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
The second high school love story on this list, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before explores a novel premise: what if our crushes knew exactly what we thought of them, down to every last embarrassing detail? In the film, high schooler Lara Jean (Lana Condor) accidentally ends up with a stack of love letters sent out to every boy she’s ever liked. Of course, chaos ensues, but also manages to resolve brilliantly in a way that is heartwarming without veering into overly corny territory. If you can’t get enough after the first installment of To All The Boys there are two sequels on Netflix as well, though they don’t quite capture the magic of the first.
The only movie on this list completely untethered to reality is About Time, a romantic comedy/science fiction mash up taking place in a world where time travel exists, as the name suggests. While there are some notable issues with the film-the rules of the time travel are a little inconsistent-requiring the viewer to suspend disbelief a little too far, all in all it’s a refreshing glimpse of what the genre can do, freeing the blend of romance and comedy to untether from reality. It’s about a couple who bonds over a shared love of model Kate Upton, sure, but it’s also about father-son relationships, growing up, and how we can and can’t control the passage of time.
Yes Man is movie that could have easily been too gimmicky, but the rules of the world and fantastic performance from Jim Carrey elevate it to the next level. It’s one of those movies that entirely hinges on the premise of a world like ours, but with one small caveat-Carry’s character must say “yes” to everything, from giving strangers money to learning a new language. He also says “yes” to a relationship with Zoe Deschanel’s manic-pixie-dream-girl character, in what is a perfectly quirky courtship.
She’s Gotta Have It
The romantic comedy genre is one with a notable lack in diversity, which many great filmmakers today are working hard to rectify. So if you’re on Netflix hunting for some silver-screen representation, or simply want to watch a great 80s movie, then look no further than th eSpike Lee joint She’s Gotta Have It. So before its time in premise, the movie about a woman exploring the New York City dating pool by dating three guys who have nothing in common has recently been adapted into a television series, also available to watch on Netflix.
Rumor Has It
Movies that reference or heavily rely on the plot of other movies are always fun nods to film history, and Rumor Has It… is no exception. In the movie, Jennifer Anniston plays a woman who discovers that the plot of The Graduate is based on a true story of her mother and grandmother’s affairs with the same man. Feeling lost in her career and relationship, and now questioning her paternity, she manages to track down the man who had dalliances with two generations of women in her family, and what happens next makes for a hilarious romp you won’t soon forget.
Always Be My Maybe
Another boundary-pushing romantic comedy is the Netflix original Always Be My Maybe which was co-written by and co-stars comedian Ali Wong, who is no stranger to breaking ground, best known for performing her stand-up special Baby Cobra while she was very pregnant. Taking place in San Francisco, the story unfolds when Wong’s character reconnects with her childhood neighbor (Randall Park) when returning home after becoming a successful New York City restauranteur. Only in the Bay Area to open up her latest fine-dining outpost, things get complicated when old feelings are dredged up.
A love story about fate and coincidences that’s set during Christmas in New York City, Serendipity ticks all the boxes of what you want in a classic of the genre. It stars John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale as the leads, who meet by chance and click immediately, but are soon separated by circumstance. Independently, they discover that sometimes in life and love you have to make your own fate, and manage to find their way back to each other, albeit with a lot of luck intervening. It’s the kind of movie that has you believing that everything will work out in the end, which is exactly the kind of neat resolution we yearn for in a romantic comedy.