Spin Control (The Romantic Comedies)

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Why is there no actual Shakespeare on this list? Instead, we have movies that are actually fun to watch, like Shakespeare in Love , and this one, a teen-ready take on The Taming of the Shrew. Like Bring It On , and unlike most films, especially teen films, this one is female focused. The heroes we cheer for.

And they are active in as much as the narrative as they are subject to it rare! A story about how our parents love us, and each other—despite the difficulties imposed society, time, and work—and how in turn, we learn to love, or not. The romance is great, the jokes are great, the costumes are great, and not to ruin anything, but Billy Idol is pretty great too.

The highway scene. Ryan Gosling hunkered over the piano. Her spins. The way she pulls at her dress. The way he grins while he smolders. Their love. It embraces their greatness as it embraces us in its giant, vibrant arms. We lean closer to the screen, not to learn but to feel for the whole experience of youth and performance: all that hope, drive, sweat, and love. The movie that inspired 90 percent of vacation hookup jokes since but seriously, we need to talk about Taye Diggs in a puka shell necklace; the man can make anything look good.

Workaholic executive and single mom Stella Angela Bassett finds more than she bargains for when her best friend, played by Whoopi Goldberg, convinces her to take a much-deserved Caribbean vacation. Cheeky, subversive, and sexy as hell, this movie turned the tables on so many male-dominated rom-coms courtesy of one very hot and heavy matchup between Bassett and Diggs, playing some 20 years her junior —and passes the Bechdel test with flying colors.

One of the very few rom-coms to do so. Michael Dorsey Dustin Hoffman is a New York actor who is such a perfectionist, no one wants to work with him.

Top 10 Underrated Romantic Comedies

So he does what any rational man would do: He dresses as an entirely different person—an older woman who goes by then name of Tootsie—and lands a role on a soap opera where he becomes a sensation. Problems arise when he falls in love with his costar Jessica Lange and a fellow castmate, an older man, falls in love with him.

And this is his best work. The love story here is as much between writer-flaneur Gil Pender and Paris as it is between Gil and any of the women in this film. This one just happens to also navigate through another time and place as well. And a beautiful one, at that.

If this list were a top 20 instead, this film would still be on it. Same with top 10—and five.


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If they do, what happens next? This movie should be watched by every college student on the planet. Who ever thought getting food poisoning in a wedding dress could be so funny? Bridesmaids is as much a buddy comedy think Old School or Twins as it is a rom-com, proving that female actors can be just as bawdy and into gross-out humor as their male counterparts in The Hangover. This is about the love between friends, yes, and the agony that comes with maturing at different paces, but what ultimately drives the film is the desire of Annie Kristen Wiig, who also wrote the script, with Annie Mumolo to catch up.

Along with nonstop laughs, we get a powerhouse performance from Wiig—even as Melissa McCarthy steals the show. Amid scenes of semen being used as hair gel and testicles jammed in zippers, the Farrelly Brothers managed to concoct an amiable story about a nerdy Ted Ben Stiller hiring a private detective to find Mary Cameron Diaz , the object of his unrequited love in high school. Despite the over-the-top locker-room gags, the movie has virtually no sex, and manages to emerge as hilarious, sweet, and satisfying.

Elephant in the room: Yes, this is Woody Allen pursuing a high school student a luminous Mariel Hemingway. In the mid-to-late s, New York was a bit of a cesspool: Crime was out of control, repeated requests for federal aid were denied, and the city was on the edge of bankruptcy. Like most of the teen romance flicks on this list, Say Anything. This movie, from director Cameron Crowe and produced by James L. Brooks is far too sophisticated for such a middling finale.

Alongside Julianne Moore, as the cheating wife he wants to win back, and with Ryan Gosling, who plays his cad coach, as well with a terrific performance from a teenage son who loves his babysitter, who in turn loves his nice-guy dad, Carell is well matched. In the late s, one could go to the theater, or one could go watch some people be executed or a bear be torn apart by dogs. Muriel Toni Collette , a daydreamer and the target of the bitchy girls she considers her friends, wants nothing more than to get out of her small town and away from her awful father, move to Sydney, and get married.

Until, of course, one night they get sent out. Hijinks—and a fake turned not-so-fake relationship—ensue. A teen sex comedy with a heart of gold, this story of four high school friends determined to have sex before they graduate was the surprise hit of Max Fischer Jason Schwartzman is a scholarship student at a private school. He gets into a contest for the affections of a widowed first grade teacher with local industrialist, and his newfound mentor, Herman Blume Bill Murray.

Several phenomenal executions come together in this film, including the ensemble cast, the just-on-this-side of believable production design, and an absolutely killer classic rock soundtrack. But what pushes it above the rest is the utter drive of both Max and Herman, as love and competition gains primacy over every aspect of their lives. Cameron Crowe has a couple of films on this list Almost Famous was close, but ultimately more coming-of-age than comedy with good reason: He understands people and how they tick.

For sheer hilarious, messy, complicated realism, Two Days in Paris takes the prize. The brilliant and surprising Julie Delpy writes, directs, and stars as Marion, a young Frenchwoman who has brought her American boyfriend Jack Adam Goldberg to her hometown en route from a trip to Venice. They struggle through misunderstandings, language barriers, cultural clashes, encounters with Marion's many ex-boyfriends, and her unruly parents played by Delpy's real-life mother and father, actors Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy, and barely come out the other side.

The moral, as Marion paraphrases Jack: "It's not easy being in a relationship, much less to truly know the other one and accept them as they are with all their flaws and baggage. Is this? Not really. The prime minister Grant falling for a junior staff member?


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  • A quiet suitor in love with the new bride Knightley of his best bud Chiwetel Ejiofor , who is apparently one of three people of color in London? A cuckolded boyfriend Firth rebuilding his shattered life with the help of his shy housekeeper? All of it. Come on, what are you, made of stone? If that notion produces a little eye roll, get those peepers back down, and then on to the screen before you miss some laughs. Rosario Dawson plays a New York Times journalist tasked with interviewing a hugely famous comedian, played by Chris Rock, who is attempting to take his career in a new direction courtesy of an ill-advised serious film about a Haitian revolutionary.

    In both cases, the journalist finds the human being inside of their famous subject, falling for them while trying not to fall for their shtick, or what they represent. There are few actors who can go toe-to-toe with Jack Nicholson. Director James L. Brooks found a suitable sparring partner with Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment and struck gold again nearly 15 years later with Helen Hunt.

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    Hunt plays a waitress with a sick child for whom Nicholson—a mean, racist, homophobic, obsessive-compulsive writer and her regular customer in the restaurant where she waits tables—has some affection. There are more epic Disney romances one of them is on this list , but none more thoughtful. What we love about this futuristic tale of a little trash compactor, WALL-E, who falls in love with his technological better, EVE, is the considered environmental, anti-consumerist message that suffuses the dystopian love story.

    Harold and Maude are separated by approximately 60 years; for the movie to hit home, for us to believe that love is truly about what we share, not what we look like or other aesthetic values, we have to believe a genuine attraction has formed. The darkly funny tale will leave you questioning just what is important to you in your own conception of love—and, moreover, in your life.

    Comic books? Lesbian conversion? Best buds?


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    • Sounds like a romantic comedy made by men, for men. And it is! But Kevin Smith also managed a somewhat nuanced exploration of friendship and art, as well as of contemporary romantic standards in his rejiggering of the love triangle. Simultaneously, at a time when every other joke on Friends involved gay panic, he was portraying three-dimensional concepts of lesbian identity.

      The Romantic Comedies

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      Romantic Comedies: Spin Control by Niki Burnham and Amy Saidens (2004, Paperback)

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