Monday, February 11, 2008

Date Night Survival Guide



Recently, a friend and I came across a display of romantic comedy DVDs in a Wal-Mart checkout line. We began to rummage through the pile of Mathew McConaughey’s table scraps when I commented on how I liked a certain title. “Ehh…” he said, “it was alright.” I paused for a moment and retracted my statement. “I mean… I liked it for a chick flick that is.”

That is when it hit me. Romantic comedies should always be filed in a separate category. They are a necessary evil. They are an undertaking that we all have to do every so often but never enjoy (you saw The Notebook right?) I dodged a bullet just last month when my wife went with some girlfriends to see 27 Dresses. It was a close call.

Sometimes we just can’t be that lucky, especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner. This is why I have done some of the groundwork for you. Listed below is my list of the 10 best romantic comedies and/or chick flicks. Listen to my wisdom and rent one of these this weekend. You will certainly score some much-needed points. You also might even like them… for a chick flick that is.

10. Notting Hill
(1999)
I’ll be honest. Hugh Grant’s roommate drives most of the “guy humor” in this film about a bookstore owner who falls in love with the biggest actress in the world (played by Julia Roberts – surprise, surprise). Yet one character alone would not warrant a spot on this list.

Additionally, the dialog is great and the story holds up well, as far as romantic comedies are concerned. Its black eye comes from the formulaic dash to the airport/wedding to stop someone from getting on a plane/married at the end.

9. The Lady Eve
(1941)
Henry Fonda stars in this film written and directed by Preston Sturges. If you are unfamiliar with Sturges you need to know two things. He is a classic comedy writer and this is a good film to start with.

8. Titanic
(1997)
I’ll make this brief because it really hurts to put this one on here. I was in high school when it came out and every girl I knew with a pulse was willing to drown with Leo. But if you pin me down I’ll admit that it was a revolutionary film starring two young actors who have done a lot for their resumes since. That is all I am giving it.

7. Casablanca
(1942)
A film argued as the greatest film of all time cannot be left off this list. I saw it for the first time in high school and didn’t really get it. But I watched it recently and found myself completely wrapped up in the story. This is the standard when it comes to movie romance. Plus, you can’t beat the iconic ending. Trust me, this is a great black and white date night pick.

6. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
This really should be higher on the list. I learned a few things when I recently watched this movie again. Rob Reiner was a legit director in his day. Billy Crystal is really funny. Meg Ryan was really hot. And not just “late 80’s big hair and bangs hot.”

The story is one most people can relate to. We have all had relationships with friends that grew awkward when they became “more than friends”. Even if your only experience with this came in 2nd hour social studies with Heather asking you if you “like” Jennifer or if you “like her, like her” you will connect with this story.

5. William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
(1996)
You don’t know how much it disturbs me that two Leonardo DiCaprio films make my list. But in all seriousness, he knows how to choose roles wisely. We were studying the Shakespeare play in freshman English when this movie came out. All of the girls in my class were going crazy over it. So naturally, I saw it… for the educational benefits of course.

If you haven’t seen it, you should know that the dialog remains the same from the classic play but it is set to a contemporary southern California setting. This makes this film stand out as a creative blend of classic literature and modern-day gang drama.

4. Knocked Up
(2007)
Is it crass? Yes. Is it funny? Yes. Is it redeemable? Yes. Will your girlfriend go for it on Valentine’s Day? Probably not. Let me know if she does.

3. Annie Hall
(1979)
Woody Allen is at his all-time best in this Oscar-winning movie. Throughout the film, Allen provides excellent commentary on relationships and the neurotic feelings that come along with them. Personally, it contains one of my favorite endings of all time.

2. Jerry Maguire
(1996)
Remember when Cuba Gooding, Jr. was a big time Hollywood actor? Remember when Tom Cruise wasn’t freakin’ crazy? Remember when you didn’t know who Renee Zellweger was? Yes, this movie is that old.

JM is close to the top because it had something for everyone. Your girlfriend will like it because it is romantic. She’ll also like the little kid. You’ll like it because, well, it is really about football. Eleven years later, the movie holds up pretty well. Even if the catchphrases didn’t. You had me at show me the money.

1. Juno
(2007)
I argued a few weeks back that this is the best movie of 2007 (see also: There Will Be Blood). Juno is probably still in your local Cineplex. It is still in Joplin. If something is still in Joplin, you can pretty much be guaranteed that it is anywhere. How good do I think this movie is? I downloaded the screenplay and read it last weekend and loved it. The writing is that good! It also has the best indie soundtrack since Garden State.

4 comments:

michaeldefazio said...

Nice post, my friend, but I have a few objections.

First, Juno isn't a romantic comedy. Not sure Jerry Maguire is either, but you kind of admitted that it's really a sports movie (with a little comedy and a lot of romance).

Second, I've never seen Casablanca but is it funny as well as romantic?

Third, if you're going light on the 'comedy' and heavy on the 'romantic', I have to admit that I'd give The Notebook some love. Sorry. I have no defense. But I'd give it some love.

Fourth, one of the Tom Hanks RCs has got to be somewhere on the list, just because he's Tom Hanks. I noticed none of the McConaughey flicks made it either. More excusable, I suppose.

Fifth, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days should be number one. No question. It should at least be on the list.

...

Epp said...

Ha! Michael. Points well taken but...

One, you are right. Juno and Jerry Maguire are not really romantic comedies. I guess that is why they are at the top of my list. Yet, in defense of Maguire, there was an awful lot of crying in the theater when I saw it.

Two, Casablanca (like Titanic) is not really a romantic comedy. It is a straight up romance.

Three, my heart just won't let me glorify a film in which the main characters turn into ducks at the end. It doesn't feel right.

Four, I too was surprised that none of Tom Hanks' films made my cut. And because he is Tom Hanks I prefer to mention him with movies like Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan. Not Joe vs. the Volcano or You've Got Mail.

Five, How to Lose a Guy? Really? Didn't they just re-releasing that under the title Fool's Gold? Just for you, I'll put it in at number 11.

Chris Holohan said...

Great list of date movies and you are totally right at Juno and the music was fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Tom Hanks should really be on the list. Have you not seen Sleepless in Seattle?
I thought I raised you better than that!