By Kryshan Randel
Most of these romantic comedies are not typical additions to the genre. They all feature romance and comedy as central plot points, but beyond that, anything is fair game. The best love stories are the most unexpected ones!
1. LA LA LAND
Starts out as a clever tribute to classic musicals, then finds its own voice and rhythms, breaking free from tradition while simultaneously honouring its inspirations. Emma Stone is incredible as a wannabe starlet, selling both the intoxicating fantasies and stark realities bouncing playfully off of each other, complete with drastic lighting and music cue changes.
2. FRANCES HA
Hilarious, playful and neurotic like the best Woody Allen films. Greta Gerwig is contagiously charming, and the black and white New York stories that surround her are constantly bursting with no-budget romance, innovation and joy.
3. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
Michael Cera fights off his girlfriend’s seven evil exes, viewing life as a video game and winning his lady’s love as the ultimate hero’s journey. More fun than a dozen superhero blockbusters, Edgar Wright’s love letter to the pop culture he grew up with is a dizzyingly fast paced and consistently inventive ride.
I agree with Roger Ebert’s review of this one in which he states that a hero doesn’t always have to be liked, but he has to be understood. Ben Stiller plays a selfish bastard who refuses to grow up, meeting Greta Gerwig who is trying to figure out her role in life. Together, and apart, they create scene after scene of awkward comedy gold.
5. YOUNG ADULT
A former popular high school girl returns to the small town where she grew up, determined to win back her old flame twenty years later, who is now happily married with children. As her behaviour gets worse—denial, narcissism, extreme immaturity—the comedy gets better and better. Diablo Cody’s best script to date.
6. RUBY SPARKS
A lonely writer’s female creation comes to life. Everything he writes initiates her actions, until she turns against him. This high concept film starts routinely, then becomes brilliantly subversive when it deconstructs the romantic comedy genre, and its lead’s fragile male ego, during the emotionally raw and volatile third act.
7. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS
Jim Carrey portrays a con artist working his way into dozens of fake-it-til-you-make-it situations. During jail time, he falls for fellow convict Ewan McGregor before his release, then creates more deceptions in order to get them back together. A relentlessly astounding farce, based on a true story, featuring one of Jim Carrey’s most outrageously committed performances.
8. THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Director David O. Russell has a gift for taking potentially cliched scenarios and making them feel so alive, spontaneous and possessed with manic reinvention that they seem brand new in his hands (see also The Fighter). Rooting for two romantic lead characters with mental health challenges played by Hollywood stars is not an easy feat to pull off, but here even the most sentimental moments feel remarkably honest, or at least fully lived in.
9. KNOCKED UP
Goes further than most rom-coms before or since. The reluctant turn to romance after accidental pregnancy makes everything seem fresh and twisted in more ways that one, and the laughs come from very unexpected places.
10. ADVENTURELAND / SING STREET (It’s a tie!)
Two ’80s tributes that really know their era. Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg are perfectly matched in Adventureland, and The laughs stem from character, time and place in equal measure. Sing Street is a pitch perfect coming of age musical love story that doesn’t stray far from formula (start a band to impress a girl), but who cares when it’s this well executed?
BONUS! Ten honorary mentions:
- Celeste and Jesse Forever
- The Five Year Engagement
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Funny People
- 500 Days of Summer
- Up In The Air
- Ghost Town
- What If (a.k.a The F Word)
We’ve got more movie lists for you: