What can I say—I’m a sucker for rom-coms. Some might consider them formulaic and frivolous, but to me, that is the epitome of a fun summer flick. Plus, so many romantic comedies are filled with incredible wit, nuanced observations, and memorable characters that are as likely to be found in more “serious” fare.
Because I’m such a fan of the genre, it was truly difficult to pick just five to recommend. These choices are in no particular order. They all just happen to pass my test of “Could I watch this movie over and over without tiring of it?” Answer yes to these five picks and read their screenplays in the WGF Library this summer.
Clueless (1995) – Written by Amy Heckerling
I was a teenager when this movie came out, so I was definitely its target audience. While there may have been updates in cell phone technology and girls aren’t quite pining after Luke Perry anymore, this movie, inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, still manages to bring in serious laughs with unforgettable catch phrases (“As if!”) and one-liners. Admit it, “You’re just a virgin who can’t drive” remains one of the most epic takedowns ever. Clueless includes the requisite romance, both unrequited and not, but you mostly fall in love with Cher’s colorful world and take on life.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006) – Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the book by Lauren Weisberger
Speaking of epic takedowns and classic lines, this 2006 gem not only introduced us to the brilliant Emily Blunt, but also gave us the gift of withering clapbacks care of steely editrix Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep). The true romance (okay, maybe it’s more of a love-hate relationship) that’s revealed is not between any two characters, but rather with fashion and its ability to transform as well as masquerade our inner selves. McKenna’s screenplay also blessed us with a monologue that had us all ruminating over the greater meaning behind those lumpy blue sweaters.
Love Actually (2003) – Written by Richard Curtis
I know this is considered a Christmas or holiday movie, but I don’t care. LOVE IS SEASONLESS. AND IT’S EVERYWHERE. And that point is clear from the movie’s first lines: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” If the charming English ensemble cast nor the numerous sweet (and sometimes speechless as seen in the scene below) proclamations of affection don’t melt your heart, then why on earth are you reading a list of rom-coms?
The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart, based on the play by Philip Barry
I had to include this classic, which launched my woman crush on Katharine Hepburn. Playwright Philip Barry wrote the character of Tracy Lord with Hepburn in mind, which not only imbued the independent, sharp-tongued socialite with the confidence that the actress naturally commanded, but also with this surprising vulnerability. It made lines like below even more impactful. Almost eighty years later and Tracy’s sentiment still rings true in almost every romantic comedy out now.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) – Screenplay by Audrey Wells, based on the book by Frances Mayes
Whenever I have a bad day or feel overwhelmed by horrible news headlines, I watch this rom-com to live vicariously through the main character Frances (played by Diane Lane). Sure, there are tons of films that take place in the land of la dolce vita, but the whole premise of leaving life’s mess behind for a Tuscan villa and romance on the Amalfi coast is peak escapism. I especially loved the small moments that gave the movie local color and held in themselves a bit of romance as well.
Browse these screenplays plus more in our Library catalog. Vive l’amour! – Enid