Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day full of roses, and tulips, and chocolates, and cheesy romantic songs that make even the most hardened person smile. I, for one, am a full supporter of Single’s Awareness Day (seeing as I don’t have a boyfriend and have yet to have one on Valentine’s Day) but I can’t help but appreciate the love and adoration that results from the pink filled day of February 14th. What better way to celebrate with your hubby or love or even your best friend than to watch romantic comedies?
There’s been a sad decline of truly wonderful rom-coms in the recent years but, fear not. I am here to list the top five rom-coms you need to watch on or before Valentine’s Day. Some are older and some are newer but either way, you’re bound to come out of the viewing laughing or crying tears of joy.
Number 5: Music and Lyrics
This 2007 comedy is perfection. Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant star as Sophie Fisher and Alex Fletcher. One’s a neurotic former writer who has a skeleton in her closet and the other is an 80’s British Pop star has been trying to hold onto his former glory. Through a happy happenstance, Fisher and Fletcher wind up writing a song for superstar Cora Corman and in doing so, navigate the waters of budding romance, fame, and failure. Both the main stars of the movie provide their own singing in the film and Barrymore is as effervescent as ever, spouting off lines at a breakneck pace with wit and humor. Grant, ever the eye candy even now, handles Fletcher’s insecurities with delicate charm and joy.
A truly light-hearted comedy, Music and Lyrics also boasts a great supporting cast in the form of Kristen Johnston (Fisher’s sister Rhonda), Brad Garret (Fletcher’s manager) and Campbell Scott (Fisher’s former professor and douche-bag former lover). Coupled with the great soundtrack, Music and Lyrics is a definite pre-Valentine viewer.
Number 4: My Best Friend’s Wedding
Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz and Rupert Everett were what dreams were made of back in the day. Roberts played Julianne Porter, a food critic who made a pact with her best friend Michael O’Neill that if they’re not married before they’re 28, they’ll marry each other. Well, days before her 28th birthday, Michael says he’s engaged to a 20 year-old architect major in Chicago. With the help of her amazing best friend George, Julianne sets off to destroy the marriage and get Michael back. Roberts is at the top of her game and what’s even better is Diaz held her own despite only having one mainstream hit, The Mask, under her belt.
The film was witty, hilarious, and heartfelt and it still rings true in the digital age where some kids and teenagers still make these types of pacts. I should know, I’ve made one with my best friend. There’s also something endearing about a woman who is gorgeous yet still has insecurities and flaws which makes the movie that much more funny. Not to mention, Mulroney is gorgeous and Everett is an absolute gem. And, a surprising bit of trivia: Roberts hand chose Mulroney and Diaz for the roles.
Number 3: Catch and Release
A funeral isn’t exactly the type of thing you’d imagine in a romantic comedy but Jennifer Gardner’s character Gray is first seen at the funeral for her fiance who died in a skiing accident. Her friends Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith) are there too, providing quips of dark humour at the fact the wedding cake is still in the fridge. Overwhelmed at all the people in her house, Gray tries to escape the smothering onslaught of emotions, only to hide in the bathroom and listen to her fiance’s best friend Fritz (Timothy Olyphant), have a quickie with a caterer. Awkward. The rest of the movie is peppered with Smith’s witty one liners (most often ‘based’ on quotes from the back of tea boxes), lost love, love found again, and what happens when friends and family discover secrets after someone has died. I suppose you could say that this movie is more on the drama side but hey, not ever romantic movie starts happy, does it?
Number 2: Morning Glory
“What’s the story, Morning Glory?” Rachel McAdams, ever charming and effervescent, plays Becky Fuller, a talented morning show producer for Good Morning New Jersey who is suddenly laid off due to budget cuts. She has a dream of producing The Today Show but at twenty-eight, she is no where near that dream. Enter Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) who interviews her to executive produce IBS’s failing news show Daybreak. Despite a disappointing interview, Jerry hires Becky and the idealistic and naïve EP discovers that Daybreak is in more trouble than she thought. Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford play Coleen Peck and Mike Pomeroy both of whom are egotistical, humorous, and acerbically witty as bantering co-hosts
McAdams is honestly effortless in this breezy feel good movie. She easily holds her own to Keaton and Harrison and her relationship to Harrison’s Pomeroy is endearing and, for me, makes the movie something special. Patrick Wilson rounds out the cast as Becky’s boyfriend Adam, a fellow IBS employee who understands that Pomeroy is the “third worst person in the world” behind Kim Jun-Il and Angela Lansbury. “She knows what she did,” he quips. In all, Morning Glory is a must. Period. Go rent it, buy it, something. Plus, it’s produced by J.J. Abrams. What more could you want? Do. It.
Number 1: The Holiday
Let it be known I have a massive woman crush on three women in show business. Shailene Woodley (more on her amazingness later), Charlize Theron (holy cow, she can do no wrong. None, ever.), and Kate Winslet (which makes it blindingly obvious that Divergent will be my go to spring movie. But again, more on that later). Yes, Kate Winslet. Gorgeous woman is flawless and beautiful and perfect and just I could go on forever. So, it’s no surprise that my number one romantic comedy for Valentine’s Day is The Holiday.
Winslet plays Iris Simpkins a columnist from Surrey who has been in love with one man for years but unfortunately it is the most horrible type of love: unrequited love, the one sided love affair. The man of her dreams? Well, he’s about to get married. Ouch. Cameron Diaz plays Amanda Woods, a movie trailer producer who owns her own company and who finds out her boyfriend has cheated on her. To make matters worse, she can’t cry. Not one tear. She hasn’t been able to since she was fifteen.
Simpkins, feeling a tiny bit suicidal after the news of her one time boyfriend’s engagement, gets an IM from Woods who is interested in a home exchange. They exchange homes and cars for two weeks so they can get away from their horrible lives. Woods goes to Simpkins’ little cottage in Surrey and Simpkins goes to Woods’ huge LA mansion. At first Woods doesn’t like anything about England. It’s cold, the house is tiny and jet lag’s a bitch, that is until she meets Graham (Jude Law), Iris’ brother. The two sleep together in what starts out as a one time thing but they end up falling in love. Simpkins meets former screenwriter Arthur Abbot who teaches her to be the leading lady of her own life all while making his life a bit more sunny. She also meets Miles (Jack Black), a film composer who makes her laugh.
While the premise may be a formulaic, the outcome is funny, feel-good and absolutely charming. Plus, you get all of Jack Black’s witty repartee as well as getting to oogle Jude Law for a good two hours. What’s not to love? Seriously. Go and watch it. If for some reason you can’t, it’s always on during Christmas.
And there you have it. The top five romantic comedies to watch before or on Valentine’s Day. Go grab champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and your sweetie (if you have one) and settle in for a movie marathon.