By Thomas Sellers Jr.
International Women’s Christmas Day Part II is this Friday.
Disguised on most calendars as Valentine’s Day, it’s that time again to boost retail sales in the dead of winter with this commercial holiday. We’re taught it’s about love — yeah, the love of money.
But we men have an obligation on Feb. 14 to make our significant others happy. And traditional great ways of doing that are chocolates, cards, flowers, jewelry and, if you have enough cash, a trip somewhere.
There are some women out there that like to keep it simple with a date consisting of a dinner and a movie. And the preferred type of big-screen genre is the romantic comedy.
A common joke is that men hate rom-coms. That is not true at all. We hate corny, predictable and unfunny romantic comedies. That just happens to be about 90 percent of the films made under the category since the 1930s.
For almost 100 years, the industry has brought novel-based fantasies of women to the big screen. This quick cash grab depends on dealing with the topic of love in a light, humorous way. Since the day of William Shakespeare, the romantic comedy is a great way to draw in an audience.
Today’s versions depend mostly on the method of “Will he realize she’s the one before the credits?” For me a great romantic comedy has three elements. The first is that the chemistry of the two love interests is genuine. Secondly, the premises needs to be believable and also genuine. And finally it needs to live up to the second part of the name — comedy.
I managed to gather 10 rom-coms that earn my stamp of approval. These will be great films to watch this Valentine’s Day to make IWCD II wonderful for both parties.
- “Wedding Crashers”
Love Interests: Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams
In order to have a great rom-com, the third wheel has to be a hated antagonist. Bradley Cooper’s Zack was the typical alpha male jerk. He managed to be a great comic balance with Wilson and Vaughn throughout the film. This buddy comedy transforms smoothly into a rom-com. Then the guest appearance by Will Ferrell pick up the pace just in time to keep you laughing tears.
McAdams is adorable and you just want her to find a man who will make her laugh and appreciate her interior beauty. Wilson puts away his old ways for the right woman.
- “Pretty in Pink” & “Sixteen Candles”
Love Interests: Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy/Molly Ringwald and Michael Schoeffling
John Hughes was on fire in the 1980s, creating rom-coms for teens that adults could relate to as well. “Pretty in Pink” is the basic Cinderella story with Ringwald’s character trying to capture the attention of the local rich boy played by McCarthy. But the best part of this movie is Duckie played by Jon Cryer.
In “Sixteen Candles, almost the same premises. Anthony Michael Hall is the dork this time, interfering with Ringwald’s dream guy. And, yes, I can admit that Jake is dreamy.
Love Interests: Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah
Toss in legendary comic actors like John Candy, Eugene Levy, Dody Goodman and Shecky Green, you’re beginning to have the strong foundation to a great comedy. Then the relatability of Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah made this film a true romance.
Beginning in 1959, “Splash” has a young boy rescued from a watery grave by an adolescent mermaid. Fast forward 25 years later, the mermaid comes to dry land to find her long-lost love.
- “Knocked Up”
Love Interests: Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl
This film is a great example of how important a supporting cast can be. Let’s give a shout out to Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and Jay Baruchel. They gave the overall plot a lot of strength and managed to keep me laughing through the ups and downs of Ben and Alison. The modern storyline makes this a very adult-based rom-com. It all started with a one-night stand that created a “fast bond” between Rogen’s and Heigl’s characters.
- “The Wedding Singer”
Love Interests: Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore
Although this film was released in 1998, it takes us back to that John Hughes era of the ’80s. And it does a good job of using the formula of “Will they, won’t they….” Sandler’s character falls in love with the precious and innocent Barrymore. It was a natural connection. But there’s one problem: She is engaged to a guy who believes he can have any woman he wants. And he wants several of them. Sandler has to come to the rescue in time to save her and give her the love she deserves.
Love Interests: Chris O’Dowd and Kristen Wiig
Why do women keep chasing that bad boy? Why does she give her all to that no-good-for-nothing jerk? “Bridesmaids” takes a hilarious look at this issue for many women. Wiig is a lifelong bridesmaid because she keeps entertaining guys like Ted (played by Jon Hamm). Hamm’s mean persona is a great comic addition to the work of Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon, Ellie Kemper and introducing Melissa McCarthy. These women did sophomoric humor very well in this classic.
- “Big Daddy”
Love Interest: Adam Sandler and Joey Lauren Adams
Critically this film was slammed by experts. But fans who love the Adam Sandler comedy reference this movie as the last of his golden era. Movies like “Billy Madison,” “The Waterboy” and “Big Daddy” illustrated the genius of Sandler and his crew. Full of jokes and innuendos, a Happy Madison Production brought in millions of dollars, courtesy of us teenagers.
“Big Daddy” was Sandler’s first attempt at a more adult-based comedy with the romantic element. He hit the target right over the middle of the plate as Sonny Koufax. The romance was hidden by the main plot of him bonding with a child who literally just dropped into his life. He learns he can be a father and he can truly love others in a mature way, including Layla.
- “Happy Gilmore”
Love Interests: Adam Sandler and Julie Bowen
The greatest Sandler comedy of all time is “Happy Gilmore.” In 1996, this sophomoric comedy was perfect for a 15-year-old boy. In the process, Happy Gilmore falls in love with Virginia.
The bad guy in this movie is the entertaining Shooter McGavin. He doesn’t try to stop the couple’s bonding. Shooter just wants to stop Happy from taking what he has been working for over the years — golf superiority. Happy’s love of his grandma opens the story. Shooter’s love of himself provides the opposition. Then Virginia who started off trying to balance things, falls in love with Happy for being the man he truly is.
Love Interests: Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver
Every great rom-com needs that evil presence. Frank Langella’s Bob Alexander illustrated the type of person we think occupies Washington, D.C., in droves. Alexander is a power-hungry man behind the scenes, pulling the strings on the White House. When the president falls ill, Alexander has to keep the appearance of him being healthy in order to keep his agenda going.
Enter a regular everyday guy who wants to better his community, Dave. This presidential look-like has to now become Bill Mitchell.
Along this journey he tries to avoid his “wife” Ellen. But you can only do that for so long. Dave and Ellen form a genuine bond. And Ellen knows he is not the man she married. She falls in love with him.
- “Coming to America”
Love Interests: Eddie Murphy and Shari Headley
One of the best movies ever is a top-tier comedy of all time. In this category, it is the absolute best. Great plot that emphasizes falling in love with a person for who they are. The antagonist of Darryl “Soul Glo” Jenks is easy to root against. Great comedic sidekick with Arsenio Hall’s Semmi. Beautiful love interest who is easy on the eyes and to root for in Lisa McDowell. Then Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem comes across as genuine and gentle-hearted.
Then let’s add the cherries, nuts and whipped cream on top of this perfect sundae. Murphy and Hall take on multiple characters, classic one-liners and several funny guest spots. This timeless love story will bring you joy with the predictable ending.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.