Every Romantic Comedy You Need To Know

Watching a good rom-com yields a particular type of satisfaction, and we fully understand the pleasures of rewatching When Harry Met Sally… for the millionth time, reciting every word, and singing along to “Surrey With The Fringe On Top.” But sometimes revisiting the same classics over and over again can get numbing, so here are some under-loved options for your viewing pleasure.
Our criteria for this list is multi-layered. Some of the films were brushed off by critics upon release, others were beloved but underseen, and many have somewhat faded into obscurity. We’ve got a range of choices here, including big-budget Hollywood flicks starring rom-com kings and queens like Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. And then we've got some indies. Some are on the melancholy side. The work of Jennifer Westfeldt is strongly represented. It's not a comprehensive list, just a couple of our favorites from the past few decades.
So click ahead and enjoy. All that’s required is a willingness to believe that love can be real.
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Moonstruck (1987)

After her first husband dies, the very superstitious Loretta Castorini (Cher) decides she's forever unlucky in love, and moves into her parents' Brooklyn brownstone. Years later, she becomes engaged to a stuffy older man, Johnny Cammareri. Before traveling to Italy, Johnny gives Loretta the instruction to tell his estranged brother about the wedding. The moment Loretta meets Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage), the fireworks begin — though Loretta tries to stave them off for as long as possible.
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The Big Sick (2017)

Husband-wife duo Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon get personal in this acclaimed indie flick, which tells the true story of their unlikely courtship. While Kumail falls for Emily (Zoe Kazan), he knows his conservative Pakistani family will never accept his decision to date outside the culture. After Emily falls ill with a rare bacterial infection, though, Kumail is given an opportunity to reconsider his decision — but will it be too late? The highs are soaring and the lows are devastating in this wonderful film about a couple straddling a cultural divide.

Catch it in theaters on June 23, 2017.
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Benny and Joon (1993)

Remember the good old days, before Johnny Depp became a man who spends $30 million on wine a month, and instead starred in adorable indie romantic comedies? Benny and Joon is one of those gems bursting with endearing, eccentric characters who only exist in the movies.

Benny (Aidan Quinn) is caring for Joon, his mentally disturbed sister, following their parents' death. After Joon and Sam (Johnny Depp) strike up a friendship, Sam moves in. An overprotective and worried older brother, Benny must deal with his sisters' burgeoning independence and romance with Sam.
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Drinking Buddies (2013)
This hipster-beard fueled rom-com has a stacked cast (Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingson, and Jason Sudeikis) and centers on the relationship between two brewery co-workers (Wilde, Johnson). The two tread the line between lovers and friends in this IPA-filled movie about dealing with repressed feelings that start to really complicate things. Add some strong craft beer and you've got yourself a definitive millennial rom-com.
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Begin Again (2013)
Upon its wide theatrical release in 2014, this movie received little fanfare despite a seriously all-star cast. Starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, Catherine Keener, and even Cee-Lo Green, Begin Again tells the story of a wayward former music executive (Ruffalo) who finds a new life in an up-and-coming musician (Knightley). This movie is less about a standard romance and more about finding yourself through connections with others, and the music creates a perfect backdrop for new discoveries.
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The Wedding Banquet (1993)
Ang Lee’s film often ends up on lists of the best romantic comedies, but it still flies under the radar. Twelve years before Brokeback Mountain, the Oscar-winning filmmaker co-wrote and directed the bilingual story of a Chinese gay man living with his boyfriend in New York. To please his traditional parents and help his friend — an artist living in Williamsburg looooooong before it was cool — get her green card, he gets married. Charming, sensitive, and funny.
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Two Weeks Notice (2002)
In the grand scheme of Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock’s individual rom-com oeuvres, this is definitely a lesser entry. And yet, their collective skills are put to delightful use. He plays a playboy billionaire; she’s the awkward activist lawyer who starts working for him.
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Brown Sugar (2002)
Rick Famuyiwa (the mastermind behind this summer's indie hit Dope) wrote and directed this charming ode to love — and love of hip-hop. Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan star as the (immensely attractive) friends from childhood who may just be perfect for each other, despite the fact that Diggs' character proposes to and marries another woman. Brown Sugar did decent business when it was released. Thirteen years later, it's time it enjoyed a renaissance on the small screen.
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Ira & Abby (2006)
As the totally fit Danny Castellano on The Mindy Project, Chris Messina pretty much plays the ultimate boyfriend. But, long before that, he was the schlubby Ira in Jennifer Westfeldt’s little seen indie, which starts with the impulsive (very impulsive) marriage of the two leads.
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Music and Lyrics (2007)
Again, not a top tier Hugh Grant romantic comedy, but yet another one that will suck you in — if for no other reason than the absurdly catchy song it features: “Pop! Goes My Heart!”
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Adventureland (2009)
You might be thinking that Adventureland, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, is more stoner-flick/summer coming-of-age dude movie than romantic comedy, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. However, Stewart, doing her best sullen girl, and Eisenberg, in full neurotic flare, make an endearing team. Here's hoping they can recreate that chemistry in next month's American Ultra.
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Going The Distance (2010)
The chemistry between Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, who have been a real life couple, is on full display in this movie. However, the nature of the plot — they’re in a long distance relationship — means sometimes they don’t share the screen. The hilarious supporting cast of friends (Charlie Day) and relatives (Christina Applegate) only adds to the fun.
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Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
Michael Cera's Juno character, Paulie Bleeker, will probably always remain the nec plus ultra in his portrayal of awkward love interest sweetie pies, but his Nick is a pretty good second. Although the reason this movie gets a spot on the list is the best friend: Ari Graynor gives a hilarious and fantastic performance as Norah’s drunk mess compatriot, Caroline.
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Friends With Kids (2012)
Another Westfeldt movie about impulsive New Yorkers. In her directorial debut, Westfeldt (who also wrote the screenplay) stars as a single woman who decides to have a baby with her BFF (Adam Scott). And ... you know where this is going. The A-plus supporting cast includes SNL all stars Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, Bridesmaids' Chris O’Dowd, and Westfeldt’s partner, Jon Hamm.
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No Strings Attached (2011)
No Strings Attached, written by New Girl's Liz Meriwether, had the burden of being one of two friends-having-sex comedies released in 2011. Despite the Kutcher factor, don't dismiss this one, especially given the supporting cast of all of your current faves, including Mindy Kaling, Greta Gerwig, and Jake Johnson.
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Your Sister's Sister (2012)
Written and directed by Lynn Shelton, this one was, unlike some titles on this list, beloved by critics. The film stars a dream team of Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Emily Blunt. Though it features some genre hallmarks — a one-night stand, and a woman in love with her best friend — it all comes together in a unique perfect package.
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Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Director Colin Trevorrow is best known these days for directing Jurassic World, now the third highest grossing film of all time, but he got his start with Safety Not Guaranteed, an odd, difficult-to-classify fantasy story with an understated romance. It's the story of a guy (Mark Duplass, again) who wants to time travel, and the group of journalists shadowing him, including Aubrey Plaza.
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About Time (2013)
Is About Time really a romantic comedy? That’s up for debate. Sure, it’s written and directed by the British overlord of the genre, Richard Curtis. And yes, there’s romance between Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson (who plays a time traveler). But that’s really secondary to the tender father and son story that is the beating heart of the movie. So, no, it may not exactly fit on this list, but who cares? You’ll be crying by the end.
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What If (2014)
The combined charm of Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe is what sells this one, which follows a familiar formula, but to perfection. Will Kazan and Radcliffe’s characters end up just friends? Probably not. Will we enjoy watching them figure out how to acknowledge their mutual attraction? Yes, we will.
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Appropriate Behavior (2015)
If you insist that couples always find their happy ending, then Appropriate Behavior is not for you. However, if you like your romantic comedies a little more cynical, or off the beaten track, then Desiree Akhavan’s indie about a bisexual Persian woman in New York and her great love that falls apart is an absolute must.
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