If you’ve happened to catch even just the trailers for most romantic comedies, let’s say, in the last decade, you’ve probably soured on the entire genre. Even now, as studios childishly duke it out by having their versions of the “anti-romantic comedy” (No Strings Attached, Friends with Benefits, anyone?), it’s hard to do anything else, but bury your face into your hands out of sheer contempt.
However, romantic comedies as a genre never used to be across-the-board bad. In fact, two of Woody Allen’s greatest movies — Annie Hall and Manhattan — are romantic comedies. And yes, even in the last 10 years, there’s been wide releases such as 40 Year-Old Virgin and Forgetting Sarah Marshall that have stuck a balance between critical and commercial success in the realm of romantic comedies. But those are more the exception.
Despite the bleak outlook for the genre, there are many a good romantic comedy today that go largely unnoticed. Many are indie flicks hat gain some steam on the festival circuit but ultimately are marketed poorly (or don’t have a marketing budget) and never get the attention they deserve.
Here are five great romantic comedies that will restore your faith in the genre:
Dedication (2007) — Justin Theroux’s directorial debut Dedication came out a year before Tropic Thunder, which he wrote. Dedication was a hot commodity off the film circuit that ultimately lost money during it’s short run in theaters. Putting a misanthropic children’s book author, played beautifully by Billy Crudup, with a charming new illustrator (Mandy Moore) he ends up working with made for a memorable film; it could’ve been the year’s most-quoted film if it had made it to more theaters. It’s the perfect movie for self-loathing romantics.
Romance and Cigarettes (2005) — A musical starring James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet (as a redhead), should be intriguing enough. But enigmatic actor John Turturro’s fourth film offers up a fiery love triangle in working class New York that’s wildly original, hilarious and yet… it was another movie that quickly vanished from mainstream minds. Consider it the antithesis of the film adaptation of Mamma Mia.
Adam (2009) –This is the perfect example of how a movie gets promoted the wrong way. IMDB lists Adam as a drama exploring the life of someone with an extreme case of Asperger’s Syndrome. The film really is an endearing, funny peek inside a developing relationship between one largely misunderstood person and one person who is completely unaware of the subtleties of human interaction. There’s plenty of hysterical scenes between Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne as they fall in love despite Dancy’s character Adam not understanding what how to love.
The Go-Getter (2007) –Though bordering on being more of a coming-of-age, road movie than a pure romantic comedy, The Go-Getter features Zooey Deschanel before she became the “it girl” for the indie/alternative crowd enchanting Lou Taylor Pucci. That is, despite the fact he steals her car. Though Pucci is looking for his brother throughout the movie, there’s plenty of charming surrealist imagery while he falls in love with the offbeat and funny Deschanel.
Beginners (2010) — Easily one of the most delightful movies out in theaters right now, Beginners is a perfect marriage of sharply written, original script and bold direction by indie writer/director Mike Mills, deft performances from Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer. There’s even an adorable Jack Russell Terrier that has subtitled conversation during the movie. Hopefully, Beginners will avoid the fate of the other movies on this list and share its touching and lovely humor with the wider audience it deserves.