Whenever I open my go-to video streaming service, I stare at the endless list of shows and movies, scrolling aimlessly until a title jumps out at me. If nothing succeeds in capturing my attention, my default option is to hit play on any romantic comedy. There’s a romantic in all of us; and it likes to be fed with good content. It goes without saying that romantic comedy is a genre with practically universal appeal. There’s just something about fateful encounters, regardless of a messy plot, that makes you root for the leads. In this genre, movies are light and easy to take in such that whatever drama and tragedy might be present in the plot is cancelled out by romantic resolutions mixed with good-natured humor. And that’s something we furtively desire for ourselves.
Ready to have your heart feel several emotions at once? Here are a few romantic comedies that may have flown under your and pretty much everyone else’s radar.
Kate and Leopold (2001)
Before his stint as the Wolverine, Hugh Jackman made everyone swoon with his Leopold, the 3rd Duke of Albany. Meanwhile, Meg Ryan’s Kate McKay made it clear that she reigns supreme in the land of chick flicks (at least in the 2000s). If you’re wondering why there’s a hint of nobility in Leopold’s title, it is because there is. In this film, the dashing, inventive duke reaches the age where he is to wed a woman of status to recover his family’s depleted finances. One day, he finds a man sticking out like a sore thumb, at the inauguration of the Brooklyn Bridge. He follows this man and soon after finds himself transported to modern-day New York. This is where fate works its magic and has him cross paths with career woman Kate.
The movie incorporates fantasy and some light science fiction which left it riddled with plot holes, much to the dismay of critics. You’ll notice inconsistencies if you’re one to scrutinize every scene, but if you’re like us, you’ll find this sci-fi-, fantasy-, and romance-filled film quite enjoyable.
About Time (2013)
To be able to travel through time is something we’d all like to experience, but like uncle Ben said, “with great power, comes great responsibility,” and Tim Lake realizes this in About Time. Dohmnall Gleeson, one of our favorite redheads, portrays Tim, a vulnerable young English-man so reserved and stiff you’d just want to reach over and give an assuring pat. As he turned 21, his father reveals to him a family secret: men of his line can time travel. What Tim makes of this newfound ability is what you’ll witness as the film unfolds. Then there’s his adorable meeting with Mary, played by Rachel McAdams, who knocks Tim off his feet and sets the story in full swing. If you follow the stunning actress’ career, you might have noticed that she likes her men fiddling around with time. Margot Robbie, meanwhile, makes a great impression with her Charlotte who plays a part in this film’s relationship triangle trope. Similar to Kate and Leopold, the time-travelling theme causes ripples in About Time’s story, but if you look past these errors, you’ll find that it plays up the significance of family relations, friendships, and being morally right.
We can play a game of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, but the reality is we live in the now. What happens, happens. But at least we could live the time travelling fantasy in About Time.
The F Word (2014)
Based on a play of a different title, The F Word (What If? in other countries), explores the dread felt by people who want to take relationships to the next level. The film begins with med school drop out Wallace–played by fresh-out-of-the-wizarding-world Daniel Radcliffe–getting dragged into a house party by his best bud Allan–Adam Driver before switching over to the dark side–as an attempt to get him out of his slump. There he meets Allan’s cousin adorable Chantry, played by equally adorable Zoe Kazan. The pair hit it off almost instantly, but this spark is doused with water just as fast with the revelation that Chantry has a boyfriend. This predicament, however, was just a small bump along the way of the two becoming confidants, and a journey most people could relate to. It keeps with the hackneyed rom-com formula but manages to make it fresh with intelligent banter spiced up by a delightful cast.
Though underwhelming at the box office, even falling short of its USD 11 million budget, The F Word did win over the hearts of many, critics and award bodies included.
Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
A good movie can make you feel all sorts of emotions in just an hour and a half, Celeste and Jesse Forever succeeds in that. You’ll cry, cry-laugh, laugh, feel frustrated, and feel all sorts of emotions in between. Led by Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, Celeste and Jesse Forever gets to the nitty-gritty of relationships and feeds it to you whether you like it or not. A failed marriage with a connection so strong keeps you on the edge, and rooting for a happy ending. It will constantly make you wonder: what would’ve happened if things were done differently? An unlikely pair, Rashida and Samberg, ever so pleasantly act out their roles as if without much effort. And this chemistry is something we’d like to see on the big screen again. People who have seen it would probably agree.
For an independent movie, Celeste and Jesse Forever actually made quite a profit and was recognized by many film critics. It, however, didn’t see a wide release in Asia which is why you may not have heard of it.
They Came Together (2014)
We love them, we hate them. Watching romantic comedies is a guilty pleasure we can’t flush out of our systems, but honestly don’t mind. The thing with this genre is, even with new movies, there’s a sense of familiarity; a thought at the back of your mind that you have already seen this film. They Came Together uses this familiarity and brings you romantic comedies in a nutshell. The film stars comedic geniuses Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, enemies-turned-lovers in a laughter-inducing, sugar-coated story that though absurdly portrays the genre, endearingly captivates the viewers. This film would remind you of everything you hate and love about rom-coms in just one sitting. I learned of the existence of this movie just recently (mind you, I’m a fan of Amy Poehler), and I guess that qualifies it as being underrated which is what it is.
The list we made is far from being comprehensive as we haven’t covered one of its largest chunks: Asian romantic comedies. But there’s no discounting the charm and comforting power of these movies. Make sure to give them a go and ready your heart for some good, sugary-sweet cinematic fluff.
Also published in Gadgets Magazine June 2018 issue
Words by Mia Carisse Barrientos
Art by Theresa Eloriaga