Rom-coms are my favourite genre of movie. This may account for why the novels I write are in the same field.
I have watched countless rom-coms, some excellent, some pretty good and a few have been dire. The all-time classic, never to be matched (IMHO) is: When Harry Met Sally (1989). It’s written by the late and oh-so-great Nora Ephron. The screenplay was also enhanced by contributions from male lead, Billy Crystal, and the director Rob Reiner. Meg Ryan was at her peak in that era, and can only be matched in rom-coms by Sandra Bullock – who stars in another fave: While You Were Sleeping (1995). Running neck and neck with these is: Something’s Gotta Give (2003), a more recent and perhaps more sophisticated offering, written and directed by Nancy Meyers, and starring one of my all-time favourite actresses, Diane Keaton, who has two love interests in Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves.
I confess to knowing chunks of these scripts by heart. Not only have I watched them many times, I have the soundtracks downloaded on to my iPod, so I can listen to them in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep. Like a child listening to a much loved bedtime story, within moments, I’ve usually nodded off again. If I don’t nod off, I lie there anticipating the next line.
I think When Harry met Sally is smartly written and high on observational comedy. It’s almost a blueprint for subsequent rom-coms; pairing a pessimistic yet quirkily amusing male lead with an optimistic yet slightly neurotic female lead. Out of youthful conceit, they begin by butting heads but, over time, develop a more mellow, accepting and well-rounded friendship – although not without its moment of despair. It has stood the test of time and still makes me laugh.
While You Were Sleeping, on the other hand, is oddly sweet – even though Sandra Bullock’s character, Lucy, takes a sociopathic approach to romance. You see, I’m not sure being recently orphaned and alone in the world (okay, she has a cat) allows her to pretend she is the fiancée of a man in a coma – a man on whom she happens to have a massive crush, and whose life she has just saved. But there you go. The eccentric Callaghan family sweeps her into its bosom at Christmas and she just can’t resist lying to them to maintain this feeling of belonging. And still I love them. Lucy is adorable and her real love interest – the coma victim’s brother, Jack (Bill Pullman) – is a guy I could fall for too.
Interesting note: on the old Harlequin Mills & Boon website, many authors cited While You Were Sleeping as their top romantic movie.
Something’s Gotta Give is the grown-ups’ rom-com. I think it’s no surprise that it was written and directed by a woman. What male writer would give a middle-aged female lead TWO love interests – and one of those a gorgeous, thirty-something doctor (Keanu Reeves)?
So, those are my most watched rom-coms and here are others I’ve seen more than thrice!
(If you have any other great recommendations… PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!)
Playing for Keeps (2012) Jessica Biel and Gerard Butler
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt
How Do You Know? (2010) Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson
The Accidental Husband (2008) Uma Thurman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan
The Wedding Date (2005) Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney
Just Like Heaven (2005) Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo
Hitch (2005) Eva Mendes and Will Smith
Raising Helen (2004) Kate Hudson and John Corbett
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003) Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey
Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant
The Wedding Planner (2001) Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey
Return to Me (2000) Minnie Driver and David Duchovny
You’ve Got Mail (1998) Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks
The Matchmaker (1997) Janeane Garafolo and David O’Hara
French Kiss (1995) Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline
Overboard (1987) Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell