I love a good romantic comedy. Let’s be real, kids, I also love a bad romantic comedy (you’re looking at someone who has seen Failure To Launch in its entirety). I love mediocre sexist drivel that attempts humor and is not so much about romance as it is about the wedding-industrial complex (I own the DVD of Bride Wars). I know my taste is questionable at best, so it’s never surprising to me that when lists are released of the “Best Romantic Comedies”, I haven’t heard of a lot of them, let alone seen them. I know what I like in a movie; I haven’t the foggiest what makes a movie critically “good” (what does cinematography even mean?). Movie critiquing is an art that I haven’t the faintest hope of figuring out. I’m much more of a numbers person. Math is objective.
So it’s surprising to me that I’m even more baffled by this list of the top-grossing romantic comedies of all time. Highest grossing implies people went to see it, which you’d think would indicate either popularity or quality, but there’s a number of films that made the list which I don’t think have either (and in some cases, I don’t even think should be classified as rom-coms). Also, the slideshow is misleadingly titled “Top Romantic Comedies of All Time”, and I think we’ll agree that “made the most money” does not always mean “best”. Let’s break it down.
10. As Good As It Gets
So we’re leading off the list with a movie I haven’t seen, mostly because I think Jack Nicholson is too old for Helen Hunt. Apparently other people did not share my sentiment, to the tune of almost $150 million. The fine folks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t hate this one either, so maybe I’m just being ageist.
9. Knocked Up
Do I buy that this was a popular movie? Sure. Would I classify it as a romantic comedy? Certainly not. What I’m about to say may be controversial, but I didn’t find anything particularly romantic or comedic about two rather incompatible people trying to force a relationship for the sake of a child conceived by mistake.
8. Runaway Bride
This was a cute movie, and no one would doubt it’s a rom-com, but one of the top ten, ever? Color me dubious.
7. Sex And The City
I have no doubt this movie made a ton of money, and I’d be a giant liar if I so much as attempted to pretend I didn’t enjoy it. That said, I’m not sure you can call it one of the best romantic comedies of all time when the movie was basically an extended fashion show that did its best to ruin every one of the relationships that existed in the show (with the exception of Charlotte, because the movie mostly forgot she existed).
6. The Proposal
This is the first movie whose presence on this list I”m not going to fight. We have an awesome female lead, a cute male lead, and Betty White. Sold. I think it was a funny movie, and managed to appeal to more than just the typical chick-flick crowd, so I’m not surprised it made this list.
5. There’s Something About Mary
So I haven’t seen this one in anything more than occasional bits and pieces on TBS. This one is similar to Knocked Up in that, while it was certainly a popular movie, I always put it more in the ‘gross out buddy comedy’ category than ‘rom-com’. Does “romantic comedy” now just mean “a comedy movie that happens to feature a romance somewhere in the plotline”?
4. Pretty Woman
There should be only one Roberts-Gere movie on this list, and this should be the one. Classic.
Seriously, list? This movie was fine, but it always struck me as more of a ‘straight-to-basic-cable’ type movie than the third best romantic comedy ever. Also, I like Will Smith best when he’s fighting aliens, not giving love advice to Kevin James, but that’s my personal preference. Apparently $180 million worth of people disagree with me.
2. What Women Want
I actually contributed to this movie making the list, as I remember being very excited to go pay $8 to see it when it came out. I also distinctly remember leaving the theater thinking “Well, the previews made it look way better than it actually was.” Second best rom-com ever? I think not. (Also, a tip: based on this list, if you want your movie to make money, apparently just have Helen Hunt play the love interest of a creepy old dude.)
1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
I like this movie. I like pretty much everything about it: Windex, John Corbett’s terrible hair, the dated references (computer classes! travel agencies!), Joey Fatone trying to act. Plus, it’s a classic storyline with a twist; homely girl gets a makeover and lands her dream guy, then must introduce him to her nutty family. I absolutely think this movie belongs on the list, though I’ll admit I was surprised to see it at #1.
So there you have it, the “Top 10” “romantic comedies” “of all time”. This list is surprising for what it does include, and, I think, equally surprising for what it doesn’t. Where are Sleepless in Seattle or The Princess Bride? How do none of the movies on this list feature Kate Hudson or Jennifer Lopez?
I guess in addition to understanding what a “good” movie is, my surprise at the movies on this list means I also don’t understand how to make a highly profitable movie, aside from getting in a time machine to the 90’s and casting Helen Hunt or Julia Roberts as a lead. What do you think? Is this list actually spot on and I’m just out of touch? What other movies would you have expected to see on here?