CATEGORIES Top 25
The best romantic comedies deliver an irresistible double sucker punch of meet-cute moments (only Julia Roberts could make prostitution adorable) and aw-shucks sentiment (who doesn't cry at the end of 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'?).
Even better, they're perfect date-night material. We count down the 25 best rom-coms ever -- and believe it or not, Roberts, Renee Zellweger and Meg Ryan don't star in all of them.
25. 'My Best Friend's Wedding' (1997)
It's a testament to Julia Roberts' likability quotient that, even when she's determined to bust up a wedding, we still kinda love her. But we also can't help but adore her rival, Cameron Diaz. Kudos to this rom-com for not only making us think twice about who deserves the guy (Dermot Mulroney), but giving us the ultimate snarky sidekick in Rupert Everett.
24. 'Say Anything' (1989)
The boom box over the head. Waiting for the seat belt sign to "ding" on the plane. The most angst-ridden answering message ever (top that, 'Swingers'). John Cusack and Ione Skye put airheaded teen movies to shame with Cameron Crowe's nuanced, smart script even grown-ups can appreciate.
23. 'Adam's Rib' (1949)
Real-life loves Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn burned up the screen in anything they were in, and as lawyers in love who defend opposite sides of an attempted murder case, the pair is damn near combustible. Director George Cukor (with a script co-written by 'Harold & Maude' star Ruth Gordon) also presented the revolutionary idea of sexual equality between a husband and wife. Now, that's hot stuff.
22. 'There's Something About Mary' (1998)
Who can forget the zipper scene, or Cameron Diaz's unfortunate hair "gel" incident? As memorable as Bobby and Peter Farrelly's gross-out humor was in this movie, it's really the poignancy of Ben Stiller's quest to win his high school dream girl that, um, sticks with us.
21. 'Roxanne' (1987)
We remember the play 'Cyrano de Bergerac' from high school, but no way was it as funny as Steve Martin's gentle, witty take on the proboscis-enhanced classic. But then again, 'Cyrano' didn't have a post-'Splash' Daryl Hannah or 20 nose jokes in it.
20. 'Harold & Maude' (1971)
Bud Cort is a rich, death-obsessed 20-year-old who enjoys faking suicide to freak out his dates. Ruth Gordon is a 79-year-old anarchist who steals cars. Of course they're meant for each other! Amazingly, you'll believe just that by the end of this genre-bending, bleakly funny movie. The gorgeous Cat Stevens soundtrack doesn't hurt, either.
19. 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin' (2005)
It's all in the title -- Steve Carrell is the action figure-collecting nerd who has never done the deed, and Catherine Keener is the single mom who just might help him with his to-do list. As sweet as their relationship is, the real (b)romance is between Carrell and his electronics superstore co-workers, who dedicate themselves to the task of deflowering him with the raunchy, good-natured humor director Judd Apatow is known for.
18. 'Tootsie' (1982)
Dustin Hoffman in a dress doesn't sound like a recipe for romance, but leave it to the late, great Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack to make this sassy, heartfelt comedy (which was nominated for a whopping 10 Oscars) work. And, while Hoffman steals the show, love interest Jessica Lange, Bill Murray, Teri Garr and Charles Durning don't need drag to deliver laughs.
17. 'Something Wild' (1986)
When wild child Melanie Griffith kidnaps yuppie Jeff Daniels to be her high school reunion date, this inauspicious (and criminal) setup turns out to be exactly what the bored businessman needs. Add an off-kilter Ray Liotta to the mix, and the sexiness gets a little more dangerous. Naughty, naughty.
16. 'Sixteen Candles' (1984)
In this John Hughes favorite, Molly Ringwald's 16th birthday is nothing to sing about when everyone -- including her parents! -- forgets her big day. Good thing dreamboat Michael Shoeffling shows up to fix things. Still, we're glad uber geek Anthony Michael Hall and exchange student Long Duc Dong keep everything from being too perfect, or it just wouldn't feel like high school.
15. 'Muriel's Wedding' (1994)
This one is for every geeky girl who ever sat in her bedroom, singing along to ABBA songs while dreaming of a better life. While Toni Collette pines for a wedding, when it finally comes (to a beefy swimmer in search of an Australian passport), it's no cakewalk. Luckily, her happily ever after comes after the bouquet is thrown, making it all the sweeter.
14. 'The Shop Around The Corner' (1940)
So good Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks felt compelled to put a modern spin on it (the forgettable 'You've Got Mail'), this love letter to, well, love letters finds Jimmy Stewart falling for a secret pen pal (Margaret Sullavan) -- the problem is, she's his aggravating co-worker. Great idea for a movie, but makes us glad Match.com has pictures.
13. 'The Wedding Singer' (1998)
The only thing worse than always being a bridesmaid and never a bride? Being a wedding singer (Adam Sandler) who gets dumped at the altar. But when romance blossoms with Drew Barrymore, he might have a second chance at love. And if she can forgive his '80s hair cut, so can we.
12. 'Jerry Maguire' (1996)
Forget "show me the money." The line we remember? "You complete me." The rollercoaster connection between fallen sports agent Tom Cruise and put-upon assistant Renee Zellweger in yet another Cameron Crowe home run rings perfectly true, and the happy ending is all the more touching for how hard it is for them to get there.
11. 'His Girl Friday' (1940)
When newspaper editor Cary Grant's ex-wife (and his ace reporter) Rosalind Russell says she's getting married to another man and leaving the working world behind, he'll go to any lengths to stop her. Sure, he wants her back on the job, but he really wants her back, period. C'mon, a love triangle with a young Cary Grant? Sign us up.
10. 'Bridget Jones's Diary' (2001)
Sure, Renee Zellweger is the ultimate neurotic, obsessively recording her calorie intake and fretting over her excess weight in this adaptation of the Helen Fielding book. But that doesn't stop Hugh Grant and Colin Firth from coming to blows over which one will win her heart. The brawl's a laughable disaster, but the good news? These guys are lovers, not fighters.
9. 'It Happened One Night' (1934)
Frank Capra may be best known for directing 'It's a Wonderful Life,' but he created pure magic between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert as an unemployed reporter and a recently married socialite who fall for each other on a cross-country trip. Riding the bus never looked like so much fun.
8. 'Groundhog Day' (1993)
Callous weatherman Bill Murray may get tired of living the same day over and over again as he slowly melts the heart of Andie MacDowell, but fans of this movie never get sick of hitting rewind on the first movie to show us that Murray was much, much more than an 'SNL' goof.
7. 'Some Like It Hot' (1959)
What is it about guys in dresses that makes for such great comedy? If checking out Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon gams as two musicians on the run from the mob isn't enough for you, you'll fall for Marilyn Monroe's most endearing performance. While director Billy Wilder complained about Monroe's inability to remember her lines, the end result is nothing less than enchanting.
6. 'Four Weddings And a Funeral' (1997)
Just like real weddings (and funerals), this movie tugs unmercifully at the heartstrings as it follows the travails of a group of British friends. This was the first time most Americans got the chance to see Hugh Grant bumble adorably. Unsurprisingly, Andie MacDowell's American magazine editor finds it as irresistible as the rest of us do.
5. 'Pretty Woman' (1990)
A movie about a hooker falling for her client should have been depressing (and the original version of the script definitely was) not romantic, but when the hooker is Julia Roberts and her client is Richard Gere, well, that changes everything. This Cinderella story may not reflect real life (and those thigh-high boots are best left in the '90s), but it was compelling enough to not only resurrect Gere's career but catapult Roberts to superstardom.
4. 'Moonstruck' (1987)
Cher won an Oscar for her turn as an Italian-American widow who falls for her fiance's one-handed brother (Nicolas Cage), and 'Doubt' writer/director John Patrick Shanley took home the gold for the screenplay. What made this movie award-worthy is the red-hot romance at its core. Cher may demand that Cage "snap out of it," but he, like the audience, simply can't.
3. 'Annie Hall' (1977)
Audiences may be abuzz about Woody Allen's 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona,' but that fine film still can't match this bittersweet, nostalgic picture's study of the rise and fall of a relationship. Diane Keaton is lovably kooky (or as Allen's Alvie Singer might say, "lurv-ably"), while Allen manages to put his neuroses aside to capture some surprisingly poignant moments. You'll never look at lobsters the same way again, trust us.
2. 'The Philadelphia Story' (1940)
Heiress Katharine Hepburn is hours away from marrying John Howard, when her ex-husband (Cary Grant) arrives on her doorstep with a scandal-sniffing journalist (Jimmy Stewart) in tow. Watching Hepburn decide between three suitors is fun, but it's the witty dialogue that's the real star here. It was the only on-screen pairing of Hepburn and Stewart (who won an Oscar for this role), and her last movie with Grant, and that's really too bad. This was one love triangle we'd love more of.
1. 'When Harry Met Sally...' (1989)
When Harry (Billy Crystal) tells Sally (Meg Ryan) men and women can't be friends because sex eventually gets in the way, Sally is determined to prove him wrong. But by the time she does, the two pals have discovered that it's love, not lust, that really trips them up. This backwards romance from Rob Reiner cuts to the core of what really makes love last (friendship and mutual respect, duh), and the touching footage of real-life couples will make even cynics believe.