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10 rom-coms to love this Valentine's Day

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in a scene from The Wedding Singer
Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler are both engaged, to different people, in The Wedding Singer. What could possibly go right? (Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

Our picks offer something for just about everyone

Whether you're planning a big night out, a romantic dinner at home, or a Galentines Day with besties on February 13, bet on a rom-com to lift the mood and mine some belly laughs in the process.

When you get together to stream a movie, make it a Power Smart night. Wear a sweater or stay warm under a blanket so you don't have to crank up the heat. And if you find yourself watching alone, consider streaming on a tablet, as an LED TV uses 11 times the power of a tablet.

For our list of 10 great rom-coms, we're trying to offer a little something for everyone, plus a surprise or two. And we've eliminated a few popular gems from the list on the basis of a few rules for this list:

  • Nothing made before 1989. It’s not (just) that we’re Taylor Swift fans – it’s just that you can draw a line in that year as being the true start of the golden era of rom-coms. Apologies to some of the greats from decades before, like The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, or Roman Holiday.
  • No Christmas-themed movies (say good-bye to The Holiday, Love, Actually, and While You Were Sleeping)
  • The couple (or couples) in question have to fall in love during the film, the true point of any great rom-com. So that means an honourable mention to the cast of Crazy Rich Asians – but those crazy kids were already in love when the movie begins – and a heartbreaking exclusion of My Best Friend’s Wedding (spoiler alert?).

Here we go.

10. Four Weddings and a Funeral

Charles (Hugh Grant) is a very British and lovable guy who seems comfortable, even proud, of his life as a bachelor – at least until he meets Carrie (Andie McDowell) and begins thinking... and thinking. Years pass. Hilarity ensues. Is this Hugh Grant’s best romcom? It’s not. But it’s better than Two Weeks Notice and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and that’s why it made the cut.

Best line: 'And do you think NOT being married to me is something you could consider doing the rest of your life?'

9. High Fidelity

John Cusack's rom-com resume includes the likes of Say Anything, The Sure Thing, and the underrated Grosse Pointe Blank, but it's as Rob in High Fidelity where he shine's brightest, whether it's trading barbs in a record shop with Barry (Jack Black) or trying to resuscitate his relationship with Laura (Iben Hjejle), the live-in girlfriend who left him.He may not hold up a boombox outside a window in this movie, but it’s still great.

Best line: 'I miss her smell, and the way she tastes. It's a mystery of human chemistry and I don't understand it. Some people, as far as their senses are concerned, just feel like home.'

8. The Wedding Singer

The movie that uncovered the alchemy of Adam Sandler mixed with Drew Barrymore is just a whole lot of fun, especially if cool eighties music is your thing. Plus it’s happily without any of the ethical quandaries of say, Never Been Kissed.

Best lines: 'No, sir, I have no experience but I'm a big fan of money. I like it, I use it, I have a little. I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator. I'd like to put more in that jar. That's where you come in.'

7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

This one captured hearts and minds not because of Sex and the City heartthrob John Corbett's appearance as love interest Ian, but because of a delightful and funny script from star Nia Vardalos. That script holds up today, especially her relatable turn as leading lady Toula who felt far more human than your average America’s sweetheart of the early aughts. Plus it features *NSYNC’s own Joey Fatone in a supporting role. What’s not to love? Besides bundt cake.

Best line: 'What do you mean, he don’t eat no meat? Oh, that’s okay. I make lamb.'

A scene from the movie, The Big Sick
The rom-com that took us all by surprise when it came out in 2017, The Big Sick is based on the complicated real-life relationship between a Pakistani-born comic and an American graduate student. (Image courtesy Lions Gate Entertainment)

6. The Big Sick

Based on a real-life relationship between stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani and graduate student Emily V. Gordon (and written by the couple), this 2017 rom-com exploring cultural rifts rides high on a witty script and a too-good-to-be-true plot rings with truth and humanity.

Best line: 'Being a parent is a nightmare. Loving someone this much sucks.'

5. Amelie

In the hands of filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this French-language stunner is perhaps the most human of all romantic comedies. It's not so much the path that Amelie (played by the enchanting Audrey Tautou) takes to true love, as it is the lives she touches en route. Nominated for five Academy Awards in 2002, it engages the heart, the eye, and the funny bone.

Best line: [to her father, who is not paying attention] 'I had two heart attacks, an abortion, did crack... while I was pregnant. Other than that, I'm fine.'

Kathereine Heigl and Seth Rogen in a scene from Knocked Up
Kathereine Heigl and Seth Rogen centre a dynamite cast in writer-director Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, which also features Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and Kristen Wiig. (Image courtesy Universal Pictures)

4. Knocked Up

With all due respect to that time he voiced Skytrain announcements, this was Vancouver’s own stoner savant Seth Rogen’s best work. His repartee with Katherine Heigl, from the one-night stand to the consequences that follow, is hilarious and the surprise element in what is arguably director Judd Apatow’s best film. No wonder Rogen went on to do great work in roles as a husband (Neighbours, Take This Waltz) and another stellar rom-com turn alongside Charlize Theron in Long Shot.

Best line: 'He's playing fetch... with my kids... he's treating my kids like they're dogs.'

3. Notting Hill

Hugh Grant truly established himself as a rom-com icon for the ages when he brought us back to this sleepy corner of London to a travel bookshop and a blue door. Was this Julia Robert’s best role? That’s a debate for the comments. But anyone would be hard-pressed not to enjoy these two greats of the genre coming together in a tale fit to grace even the pages of Horse and Hound.

Best line: 'Yes - happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat.'

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire
Cuba Gooding Jr.'s iconic turn as a "show me the money" NFL receiver is one of the charms of Cameron Crowe's film, which made Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger one of rom-com’s all-time great pairings. (Image courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment)

2. Jerry Maguire

Back when Tom Cruise had time for acting instead of just incredible stunt work, he was in his element here as a desperate sports agent who seems to have no capacity for love as he tries to land an NFL receiver – magnificently played by Cuba Gooding Jr. – the “money” he deserves. You can’t help but fall for the girl (Renée Zellweger) and her kid (Jonathan Lipnicki), who justify the hall of fame speech delivered by Cruise near the film’s end.

Best line: 'Just shut up. You had me at hello.'

And number 1… It had to be you... When Harry Met Sally

Let us all listen to the wise words of the soundtrack and accept that the romantic comedy was perfected when Harry Burns and Sally Albright began the longest night of her life driving from Chicago to New York together. Charm in abundance, a sizzling jokes-per-minute ratio, and wool sweaters that could star in a Power Smart ad. The chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan is all-world, as is the Rob Reiner direction and witty Nora Ephron script. Toss in the fact that their romance, which evolves from a friendship, reflects real-world best practices.

Best line: 'I'll have what she's having.'