For someone who’s pretty sure she doesn’t like romantic comedies, I sure have seen all of them. As in, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen just about every classic rom-com, plus a few of the ones no one would ever venture to call classics, plus a few of those weird ones literally no one has ever seen that exist in infinity on Netflix.
Most of them were not very fun, or good, or anything. Some of them have a certain charm, I guess, but in much the same way as you can think that a family Christmas party objectively has charm at the same time you want to spend exactly zero minutes attending it. In short, I have long assumed I am Not A Fan of the romantic comedy.
So imagine my surprise when I was thinking up my list of all time favorite movies and I realized several of them are, categorically, rom-coms, kind of. And thus I must kind of like romantic comedies after all? Or at least only kind of not like them.
Without further ado, here they are: Kind-of romantic comedies for people who kind of don’t like romantic comedies.
About Time (2013)
dir. Richard Curtis; starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Okay, so I know I just said I don’t like romantic comedies. And I know it doesn’t get much more rom-com than Richard “British People Fall In Love In A Quirky, Obstacle-Ridden Way” Curtis. However. THIS MOVIE IS SO GODDAMN CHARMING THAT I DON’T CARE WHAT GENRE IT IS.
We have scene-stealing turns from Bill Nighy and Margot Robbie. We have an early-career Domhnall Gleeson in a leading-man role, being awkward and adorable all over the place. We have Rachel McAdams being equally awkward and cute, and also it’s Rachel McAdams, who is so beautiful and talented that my roommate calls her “Beeboop,” because, quote, “She could be named Beeboop and it wouldn’t even detract from how amazing she is.” We have an amazing soundtrack. We have TIME TRAVEL. And we have a romantic comedy with the takeaway that real life, with all its monotony and irritation and obstacles, is just about the most beautiful thing there is.
I am one of those people who often mentions that she doesn’t cry (speaking of — have I told you I’m not much of a cryer?), and yet I have never been able to get through the end of this movie without crying. “THE LUCKIEST” IS A VERY SAD SONG, OKAY?
Stream it for free on Netflix
His Girl Friday (1940)
dir. Howard Hawks; starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
Before we get into the significance of this film, and the impact it made on the film industry, and the ways critics lauded it upon its release and have continued to do so to this day, and the fact that The West Wing/any other Aaron Sorkin vehicle could hardly have existed if this film hadn’t (shoutout to the walk and talk), and the unbelievable banter between the two leads, and the surprising power of the career-girl protagonist in this rom-com from 1940, and the exciting plot, and all the various ways you grow to root for these characters, may I just say: Cary Grant is very handsome.
Actually, I think I’m just going to leave it at that.
Stream it for free on Amazon Prime
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
dir. Wes Anderson; starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan
This is a controversial categorization, and yet I am not the one making it. This film has comedy, and also it has romance (the whole Zero-and-Agatha plotline is worth at least a swoon or two), and some people have tossed that together to mean “romantic comedy.” It also has crime and violence and action and suspense and an Academy Award for Best Picture. More importantly, it has a beautiful pastel hotel to which Saoirse Ronan delivers beautiful pastries via a bicycle, which is as close to a single perfect event as I can imagine.
Unlike some of the other (equally and objectively magnificent) movies on this list, I don’t think I need to convince many people that this is something those who may not like rom-coms could conceivably like. But I will say, just to make sure:
Does everyone remember how good this movie was?!
This movie was very good.
Rent from $2.99
The Princess Bride (1987)
dir. Rob Reiner; starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn
Again, I don’t think I need to convince anyone that this movie is objectively good, nor do I need to persuade anybody that this is a movie that is occasionally categorized as a romantic comedy that people who do not like those will like. They cover that in the movie itself. (“Is this a kissing book?”)
Instead, let’s take this time to do something we should all do a lot more of: Think about The Princess Bride quotes. I’ll start us off with a classic:
“Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”
I’m going to go rewatch The Princess Bride now.
Rent from $2.99
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
dir. Colin Trevorrow; starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson
It is my belief that if I continue, to this day, to like anything that fifteen-year-old me liked, then that thing must be unfailingly, objectively, unusually good. This is true for cake pops in fun, seasonal shapes; it is true for the album Take Me Home, the masterpiece and standout of the One Direction canon; and it is true for this film, which has been my unflinching favorite movie since I was fifteen.
Everything about this movie is crazy. It’s a little bit rom-com, a little bit sci-fi, a little bit drama. It pairs Aubrey Plaza with Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson with Karan Soni, and both duos have enough chemistry and talent to carry the whole movie. Duplass plays the zither. Aubrey Plaza flirts via a can of Campbell’s soup. But the thing I always tell people when I’m trying to convince them to watch this (which is always) is that the last scene of this movie single-handedly convinced Steven Spielberg that Colin Trevorrow, the then no-name director of this movie, that he could handle Jurassic World. You know. THE ONE THAT MADE $1.6 BILLION.
This movie has enough time travel and non-romance emotion and banter to satisfy any cooties fearer. Also, I think I might love time travel.