Once - This 2007 romance film tells the story of a struggling musician/busker on the streets of an Irish town who meets, befriends and falls in love with a young and beautiful keyboardist. The street musician is still reeling from a bad breakup and the keyboardist is recently separated from her husband and has not decided if she should continue the relationship. What transpires is a very heartwarming and at times, a bit heartbreaking set of events that features the Oscar winning song ‘Falling Slowly’ performed by the film’s two leads. This is a film that I recommend to anyone who enjoys raw and natural romance films and great pop music as well.
Just Friends - It seems that any person’s list associated with a particular genre of film will have at least one guilty pleasure tucked in. Just Friends is no exception. This film tells the story of an overweight, nerdy and over-achieving young man named Chris Brander (played by Ryan Reynolds in a fat suit and makeup) who wants to confess his love to his best friend and the popular girl in high school, Jaime Palamino (played by Amy Smart). His plan backfires in humiliating fashion, which spurs him to move away from his hometown and practically reinvent himself into a slim, athletic, successful and sometimes chauvinistic record executive 10 years later. Brander returns to his hometown to get a little payback on his former crush, but love has other plans for him. The reason I added this movie on this list is because I can relate to being in the friend zone and having a crush. I misconstrued my ‘like’ for a girl in high school for love, but I was young and foolish then. Just Friends may not be the best movie on this list, but it is a great comedy with relatable situations.
The Wedding Singer - The Wedding Singer is a classic film, in my honest opinion. The movie is about a guy and a girl: A wedding singer/aspiring musician Robbie (Sandler) and a waitress named Julia (Barrymore) that develop a friendship working at a wedding. The two of them are engaged to different people (who are not necessarily the right people for them) and are approaching their respective wedding dates. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Robbie is left at the altar by his longtime girlfriend. This humiliating event sends him into a state of depression and affects his work. It is only through the kindness of Julia that he begins to heal…and realize that he has fallen in love with her. Little does he know, is that their spending time together has planted seeds of doubt in Julia’s mind about who she should really be with. Like Once & 500 Days of Summer, this movie boasts a great soundtrack as well and great singing performances from Sandler and various cast members. The Wedding Singer is arguably my favorite Adam Sandler comedy and one of the best romantic comedies ever made.
In The Mood For Love - For those who have watched some of my older videos on Youtube (I thank you), they will know of my love for this particular film. The first true arthouse film I saw, In The Mood For Love is beautiful as well as haunting. The film tells the story of a man and woman who find out that their spouses are having an affair with each other. In an attempt to understand why their spouses would commit adultery, they would play the roles of their spouses and mimic how they would carry on conversations, dates, et cetera. In these scenarios, they promise each other that they won’t become like their spouses. However, over the course of the film, the two of them share an intimate bond that develops into love. The question is, do they both succumb to their urges and desires? To answer that question, I highly recommend watching this film and its sequel 2046. In The Mood For Love is a beautiful piece of cinema and is one film that I would recommend to any cinephile.
500 Days of Summer - 500 Days of Summer is a special film because it kinds of does for romantic comedies what Quentin Tarantino did for gangster films with Pulp Fiction. It revitalized the traditional format that we are used to seeing in such films as Just Friends, The Wedding Singer and Jerry Maguire. Tom (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a hopeless romantic that believes that the girl of his dreams is the titular character Summer (played by Zooey Deschanel). Summer is a bit jaded in love and doesn’t want to fall into a deep, long lasting relationship because of past experiences and observing the disintegration of her parents’ marriage. The film follows their relationship from the fateful first encounter to the abrupt and heartbreaking end. Told in a non-sequential manner, the film highlights key moments in Tom and Summer’s relationship that most of us can relate to. One of the most inventive and brutally honest sequences in the film is the ‘Expectation vs Reality’ sequence. Like Once, this film boasts an incredible soundtrack and helped me to discover the great Australian rock/pop band The Temper Trap. As the film’s narrator suggests, this isn’t a love story. Yet, for a film that can be a bit heartbreaking at times, it is still an inspiring and heartfelt experience for anyone looking for a great film, not just a romantic comedy.
Honorable Mentions: Her, Say Anything, 2046, Great Expectations (2012 adaptation), 3-Iron.