All The Magical Romantic Comedies, Ranked By Absurdity

Photo: Courtesy of STX Entertainment.
Every movie requires magic, but romances need a lot of magic. So much so that they often employ real, sparkly, fairy-godmother style magic, as in the new movie I Feel Pretty, which arrives in theaters this month. In I Feel Pretty, Amy Schumer plays a woman who, after a nasty fall at SoulCycle, is magicked into thinking she's abundantly beautiful. Abracadabra, there it is: an incident to catalyze an entire feature-length film.
Romantic comedies like this kind of trickery. Is it sad that we feel the need to introduce magic into a movie in order to force characters to fall in love? Maybe. But, magic as a way of elevating romantic plots is a tale as old as time. Hell, even Adam and Eve needed divine intervention to find each other. Literally! Adam needed a love interest, so God popped in and conveniently provided one, though not without recycling a tiny part of Adam. A few thousand years later, and this model still stands: In order to fall in love, some deus ex machina better get involved, or else nothing will happen. That's called inertia.
Ahead, the romantic comedies that involved magical spells or intervention, ranked from least to most absurd. For this piece, we're specifically talking magic stuff, so bets, family trickery, and "I'm writing a piece for a big magazine" betrayals don't count. We've also narrowed the category to romantic comedies only. This did, unfortunately, rule out a number of Disney Channel Original programming, as well as a few romantic dramas.
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14. Bedazzled (2000)

Elliot (Brendan Fraser) is struggling to get the girl of his dreams. (That sucks!) Enter: the Devil, played by Elizabeth Hurley. The Devil grants a series of wishes to Elliot, which he uses to get the girl. He also gets a lot of money, which he later discovers came his way illegally. All magic comes at a price, Elliot.

Mechanism: The Devil, a.k.a. Elizabeth Hurley

Absurdity Level: Elizabeth Hurley as the Devil
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13. Enchanted (2007)

Well, buddy, it's right there in the title. Enchanted plays with the magic-as-matchmaker by introducing the concept of "our world" versus "Disney princess world." Giselle (Amy Adams) is a cartoon princess who enters our world — New York City, replete with grouchy pedestrians and buses — courtesy of an evil sorceress (Susan Sarandon). A confused Giselle makes do in New York City, befriending the rats and sewing new clothes, until she falls in love with Patrick Dempsey.

Mechanism: An evil witch

Absurdity Level: A squirrel snacking on an apple
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12. Big (1988)

A precursor to 17 Again, Big relies on a fortune teller. The game turns tweenager Josh (David Moscow) into a real, walking-and-talking adult. As an adult, Josh (now Tom Hanks) falls in love with Susan (Elizabeth Perkins). He's still a kid, though, and he has to find that fortune teller, or else he'll be stuck as an adult forever.

Mechanism: Fortune teller at a carnival

Absurdity Level: Pickles on your peanut butter sandwich
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11. Freaky Friday (2003)

There's an entire subset of these movies devoted to body-switching. (There's also a Saturday Night Live sketch devoted to it.) Freaky Friday was the original body-switching comedy. There have been several remakes of Freaky Fridaythis formula is beloved. The most recent one starred Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, and Chad Michael Murray. By switching bodies with her mom, Anna (Lohan) grows as a person, and becomes a viable partner for Jake (Murray). Also, Jake almost kisses Anna's mom (Curtis). Ah, the perils of body-switching.

Mechanism: A fortune cookie at a Chinese restuarant

Absurdity Level: Danielle Fishel, but as a fish
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10. It's A Boy Girl Thing (2006)

In another body-swap flick, Nell (Samaire Armstrong) and Woody (Kevin Zegers) find themselves trapped in each other's bodies. In the process, they develop some empathy for each other. And, you know, they fall in love.

Mechanism: Pink and blue lightning. Pink to indicate female, blue to indicate male.

Absurdity Level: The temperature in New York City on any given day
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9. 17 Again (2009)

What happens when a struggling middle-aged man swings back in time and becomes a 17-year-old? That's exactly what happens to Mike (Matthew Perry) when a magical janitor transforms him into a 17-year-old (Zac Efron). Once again, we find ourselves in the mom-teenager dilemma: 17-year-old Mike stills loves his wife, but he's also... a teenager.

Mechanism: Magical janitor

Absurdity Level: Magical janitor
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8. The Hot Chick (2002)

Picture It's A Boy Girl Thing, but with Rob Schneider and Rachel McAdams. In this case, an actual witch is involved — a fellow student betwitches Jessica (McAdams), the most popular girl in school, after Jessica offends her in class. The spell causes Jessica to switch bodies with a gas station attendant (Schneider). She must work to reverse the spell before the full moon — otherwise, it's permanent.

Mechanism: High school student who is also a part-time witch

Absurdity Level: A fish called Shonda who knows Wanda but, you know, doesn't keep in touch
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7. Just My Luck (2006)

This movie starts with a magical premise: Lindsay Lohan has the best luck. Chris Pine has terrible luck. And then, because they kissed just as a shooting star happened overhead, their luckiness quotients flip-flop. Pine becomes lucky; Lohan becomes unlucky. Of course, to balance it all out, they must find each other and kiss again. Ergo, love.

Mechanism: Kiss plus shooting star

Absurdity Level: Rihanna's significantly unsexy lyric "hold me like a pillow"
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6. 13 Going On 30 (2004)

Perhaps one of the best magical movies, 13 Going On 30 relies on magic wishing dust. Thirteen-year-old Jenna (Jennifer Garner) hides in the closet and wishes to be "30, flirty, and thriving." As she does so, she bangs her head on a shelf, which disrupts the magic dust. The dust grants her wish, and she is plunked into 30-year-old magazine editor life. That's how she discovers she's madly in love with her best friend Matty (Mark Ruffalo in the present, Sean Marquette in teenagehood).

Mechanism: Wishing dust

Absurdity Level: My Xanga profile, which featured the song "Movin' Out" by Billy Joel
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5. Kate & Leopold (2001)

Time travel is, in and of itself, a genre of film. Kate & Leopold is set apart from the rest because it's absolutely a romantic comedy. It stars Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman. The title is just two names. The end goal of this movie is romance; time travel is just the mechanism that brings the lovers together. In this case, Liev Schreiber discovers a portal into 1876, which brings a lonely duke to New York City. Kate (Ryan) is too career-focused to fall in love. But a princely duke from 100 years ago changes all that.

Mechanism: Liev Schreiber's science?

Absurdity Level: A convent for subway rats, where they all go to pledge devotion to God. They also make a pledge of celibacy, except for one rat, Maria, who keeps wandering off to sing by herself. She eventually becomes a governess for approx. 1,000 rat babies.
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4. A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)

Yes, this tale is older than 19 years. But, for the purposes of this movie-centered list, this is a movie made in 1999. Midsummer Night's Dream is the original "bewitched" romantic comedy. Puck (Stanley Tucci, in this case) takes it upon himself to toy with the love lives of mortals. He makes Demetrius (Christian Bale) fall in love with Helena (Calista Flockhart). And, whoops! Lysander (Dominic West) falls for Helena, too, leaving Hermia (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the dust. Really, it's a tale as old as time: all the men are falling for the alpha gal and, through some twist of fate, the beta girl is all of a sudden the new queen. Throughout one very hectic night, two couples fall in and out of love, eventually settling in a reasonable formation, although one member of the foursome is still under Puck's spell, which seems cruel.

Mechanism: Puck, a.k.a Stanley Tucci

Absurdity Level: Stanley Tucci rolling up his sleeves so he can finish washing the dishes for you.
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3. Groundhog Day (1993)

In the case of Groundhog Day, the magic is about time travel: Newsman Phil (Bill Murray) finds himself reliving the same dull day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, over and over again. The only thing that will allow him to escape the loop will be — wait for it — joie de vivre.

Mechanism: Punxsutawney Phil?

Absurdity Level: Wearing two trench coats so you can say "I'm really in the trenches" later that day.
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2. What Women Want (2000)

Mel Gibson is a womanizing executive in this movie, which has a nasty way of creeping onto cable networks these days. (How did I end up watching this on television? Don't ask me.) After a tragic fall — like Amy Schumer falling off her bike in Soul-Cycle — Nick (Gibson) can suddenly hear everything women are thinking. This leads him to Darcy (Helen Hunt), a co-worker who might just be able to cure him of his chauvinism.


Mechanism: A tragic fall

Absurdity Level: Mel Gibson listening to women.
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1. Simply Irresistible (1999)

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what's the weirdest romantic comedy of them all? Why, that would be Simply Irresistible, a movie about a woman magicked into having the ability to cook emotions for people. (Into people?) Sarah Michelle Gellar plays said woman, and Sean Patrick Flanery is her love interest. After encountering a magic crab at a market, Amanda Shelton (Gellar) discovers she is a great cook. And, when she cooks, she transfers her emotional state to the people who eat her food. Because she's recently inherited a restaurant, Amanda finds herself in a pickle. At one point in this movie, Amanda's restaurant patrons are all falling madly in love with one another. This is also how Tom Bartlett (Flanery) falls in love with Amanda initially, although he suspects she's a witch. She's not a witch, Tom. She just owns a magic crab; you can calm down.

Mechanism: Magic crab

Absurdity Level: Magic imitation crab

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