There’s never a better time for a romantic comedy than Valentine’s Day. Yet, choosing from the horde of identical love stories can be overwhelming. Here’s a rundown of five perfect romcoms to peruse this winter weekend.
“Groundhog Day” (1993)
Many films attempt to capture the comforting warmth of a small town — it’s Hallmark’s entire brand. Yet, none do so as effortlessly as director Harold Ramis’ “Groundhog Day,” a romantic comedy starring Bill Murray as cynical news reporter Phil Conners and Andie MacDowell as vivacious producer Rita Hanson.
After traveling to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for the annual Groundhog Day event, Phil, Rita and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot) become trapped by a snow storm.
When Phil wakes up day after day in a time loop, he desperately searches for a break to this cycle. As he encounters this purgatory alone, he and Rita fall in love and work together to help Phil escape this time warp.
“Groundhog Day” is the comfort food of movies. It’s warm, inviting, idealistic — it’s nostalgia comes to life. The chemistry between Murray (“Ghostbusters,” “Caddyshack”) and MacDowell (“Short Cuts,” “Multiplicity”) is magnetic and sells the central relationship superbly.
It’s absolutely ideal for a Valentine’s Day in for those who want to avoid the unenticing Chicago cold.
“10 Things I Hate About You” (1999)
“10 Things I Hate About You” is perhaps the most classic case of “good girl falls for bad boy.” Directed by Gil Junger, the story is a loose modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s comedy “The Taming of the Shrew.”
When Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik), a goofy, fashion-focused teen, wants to begin dating, her father strikes a deal that Bianca can only date once her more introverted and serious sister Kat (Julia Stiles) does.
Bianca devises to set her sister up with the school’s bad boy, Patrick (Heath Ledger). Against the odds, Patrick and Kat hit it off.
The romance fires on all cylinders, as do the side characters. Bianca is effervescent and thoroughly entertaining. Rarely does a one-liner rival: “There’s a difference between like and love. See, I like my Sketchers but I love my Prada backpack.”
With a gripping love story and hilariously outdated fashion and references, this is an exceptional feel-good film to cozy up to this Valentine’s Day.
“Confessions of a Shopaholic” (2009)
Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a shopaholic who aspires to work at the fashion magazine Alette. After her credit card is declined while shopping, suave man Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) pitches in the cash she needs.
Luke later hires Rebecca to write a column for “Successful Saving” magazine about her spending woes under the pseudonym “The Girl in the Green Scarf.”
Directed by P.J. Hogan and based off the “Shopaholic” book series by Sophie Kinsella, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is an absolute blast. The campy tone and Isla Fisher’s (“Wedding Crashers,” “Now You See Me”) wonderfully bubbly performance liven the film beyond mundanity into pure fun.
It’s not high art by any means; it’s a silly, unrelatable film in which a woman with fake problems finds easy solutions. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is an expert turn-your-brain-off film for those in need of escapism this Valentine’s Day.
“Easy A” (2010)
“Easy A” is a tongue-in-cheek approach to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter.” The film follows 17-year old Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) as she finds herself the center of countless rumors in the wake of a little white lie.
Directed by Will Gluck, “Easy A” places romance on the back-burner for much of its plot, yet the love story between Olive and Todd (Penn Badgley) still resonates.
Where “Easy A” lacks in the cry-your-eyes-out melodrama of “10 Things,” it makes up with witty, fast-paced comedy. Stone (“Crazy Stupid Love,” “La La Land”) is a comedic force and leads “Easy A” with a career-defining performance.
The supporting cast are all knockouts as well. Particularly, Amanda Bynes’ (“The Amanda Show,” “She’s the Man”) performance as Marianne, a devoutly judgemental Christian, is hilariously over-the-top and energetic.
“Easy A” is a dynamically colorful film that delivers effortless comedy and a solid love story. It’s as close to a modern teen classic as it gets and should be on everyone’s viewing list this Valentine’s season.
“Crazy, Stupid, Love” (2011)
When people think of a Ryan Gosling-led romantic movie, they think of “The Notebook.” Despite that, this superior Gosling romcom still exists. “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is a star-studded tour de force of romantic comedy.
When recently divorced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) meets playboy Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), he learns firsthand how to reenter the dating world.
Meanwhile, Jacob finds himself tempted to leave his womanizer ways due to his infatuation with Hannah (Emma Stone).
The film has many intertwining plots that all work together to create a tight, succinctly written story. Every moment builds toward the climax, which gives “Crazy, Stupid, Love” infinite rewatch value.
Not to mention, the chemistry between Stone and Gosling (“The Notebook,” “The Big Short”) is enthralling. There’s a reason the two went on to play love interests once again in 2016’s “La La Land” — yet another film that has upstaged this underrated classic in their careers.
“Crazy, Stupid, Love” is a romcom that rises above romantic cliches and is an essential watch for any fans of the genre.
All these films are available for rent on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.