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Movies can inspire every sort of feeling you can imagine, but there's nothing quite like the optimism and general sense of being uplifted that a good romantic comedy can provide. That's a good thing at any time, but we can use all the good feelings the movies have to offer right now. And since this year is the 25th anniversary of CLUELESS (Paul Rudd still hasn't aged a day) there's even more reason to dive into a wealth of romantic comedies.
Here are nine amazing romantic comedies to fuel your get-togethers with friends — even if they're via group chat or video calls.
[Image Credit: Paramount Pictures]
This loose adaptation of "Emma" by Jane Austen moves the action to wealthy Beverly Hills, where the pretty and popular Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) decides to offer her services as a makeover artist to Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy), the uncool new girl in school. CLUELESS captures so much of the '90s, from Tai's style — both before and after Cher "helps her" — to our first introduction to Rudd, playing Cher's older brother. Despite being totally rooted in the 1990s, CLUELESS stands as a timeless teen rom-com.
[Image Credit: Columbia Pictures]
The greatest romantic comedy of the 1980s turned Meg Ryan into a superstar, for good reason. She's the Sally of the title, who meets Harry (Billy Crystal) in college. Mutual dislike mellows as they reconnect every few years, which leads to a friendship, which matures into love. Billy Crystal is funny in the sort of everyman role Tom Hanks would eventually own, but Ryan is spectacular as the funny, fiery, and very crush-worthy Sally. Nora Ephron's script, directed to perfection by Rob Reiner, is stealthily deep and smart as it grapples with questions we all ask in our relationships with friends and lovers.
[Image Credit: Universal Pictures]
Screenwriter Richard Curtis was responsible for more major romcoms in the '90s and '00s than any other single person, but this one, his first, remains the gold standard. Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell star as lifelong bachelor Charlie and Carrie, the American woman he keeps running into at weddings. It's almost the British version of When Harry Met Sally as the two characters circle one another, even as Carrie gets engaged and Charlie embarks upon his own ill-considered marriage. Hugh Grant is perfectly charming and Andie MacDowell is simply luminous in this celebration of trying our hand at relationships until we finally get it right.
[Image Credit: Amazon Studios]
Most romantic comedies are explicitly positioned as fantasies, even if they are somewhat realistic ones. (We all fall in love eventually, after all.) THE BIG SICK is different in that it tells a true story. Star and co-writer Kumail Nanjiani plays himself as he falls for Emily (Zoe Kazan, playing a version of co-writer Emily V. Gordon) just before she becomes incredibly ill. Nanjiani gets to know Emily's family while she is in a coma — and despite the real-world underpinnings of severe illness, THE BIG SICK is outrageously funny and deeply touching.
[Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Before Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone teamed up for LA LA LAND they made this sweeter-than-you-expect romcom about Cal (Steve Carell), whose wife (Julianne Moore) abruptly asks for a divorce after 25 years of marriage. Helpless when it comes to dating, Cal meets pick-up artist Jacob (Gosling), who teaches him how to meet women, even as Jacob begins to have his first-ever serious relationship with Hannah (Stone). Sound like a whole tangled web of characters? CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE is exactly that, and it goes over the top as they all make life difficult for themselves while trying, somehow, to help one another.
[Image Credit: Lionsgate]
The concept is out there: U.S. Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) gets a chance to run for President and has a shot at winning, just as she reconnects with down and out journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), who she babysat when she was a teenager. Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter, and while working closely, the two fall in love. What happens next is as crazy as you would expect from a Seth Rogen movie, but he and Theron have surprisingly deep chemistry. As implausible as LONG SHOT seems on the surface, it has a lot more going on than you would expect, and it more than earns its stripes as a swoon-worthy romantic comedy.
[Image Credit: 20th Century Studios]
This teen rom-com is both utterly modern and sweetly classic. Simon (Nick Robinson) hasn't come out, and when he learns of another student at his high school who is confessing his own closeted experience via the pseudonym "Blue," Simon strikes up an online conversation with Blue. They fall in love, despite speaking anonymously — and then another kid learns of their conversation and threatens to blackmail Simon. LOVE, SIMON takes the plight of each character seriously even as it also believes in love and hope, and the good-natured and empathetic performance from Nick Robinson makes the story deeply moving.
Sometimes you've got to go back to the classics. This rom-com from Frank Capra (IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE) turned Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert into massive stars by pairing them as a newspaper reporter and a spoiled heiress who fall in love while traveling together from Florida to New York City. The dialogue is sharp and snappy while the feeling is loose and rambling, making for a prototype that romcoms still follow today. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT was the first movie to sweep the major Oscar categories (Best Picture, Director, Actress, Actor and Screenplay) and remains only one of three movies to ever do so, alongside ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
The "baby" in the title is a leopard given to Katharine Hepburn's free-spirited character by her brother. When she meets milquetoast paleontologist David (Carey Grant), she quickly takes a shine to him, and soon falls in love entirely — which is a problem, as David is just about to be married to the rather sour Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker). Howard Hawks spins a madcap and sometimes entirely silly screwball comedy out of the collision of these characters. This is the third of four Grant and Hepburn pairings, and while the fourth movie, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, is far more famous, BRINGING UP BABY is so goofy and entertaining that it is the ideal movie to watch right now.
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