We have a confession: we both love a good romantic comedy. And with Valentine’s Day coming up this Sunday, it’s definitely rom-com season (second only to Christmas rom-com season). As mature women in our late-twenties, naturally, we’re both ridiculously excited for To All the Boys: Always and Forever to come out on Friday and will be having a zoom party to watch it together. And we’re not even ashamed of it.
The conversation around romantic comedies, aka rom-coms aka chick flicks aka your movie-night guilty pleasure, is a smidge complicated. Even the term chick flick implies that romance is a “girly” concept, which, excuse us, it takes two to tango, mister, and, also, what’s wrong with being girly? For some women, they are fun, adult fairy tales; for others, they are detrimental to feminism. We think both are true, but it depends on the movie.
Writing about postfeminist discourses in romantic comedies, Eliza Soer argues that these movies play on gender stereotypes, but which ones depend on whom the movies are marketed towards. Male-marketed rom-coms, or “homme-coms” (can you hear us roll our eyes?), construct the female love-interest as a tool to help the male lead discover something about himself (see The Wrong Missy or 40-Year Old Virgin). Whereas, newer rom-coms, like Isn’t this Romantic, push more towards self-empowerment and self-love; the male love-interest is incidental to that growth.
That’s not to say that rom-coms made for women aren’t also problematic. The idea that a woman isn’t successful or complete without a romantic partner is… stupid. Yep. the only word for that trope is stupid. We reject that trope. But all movie genres have problematic tropes, and it’s not fair that we lambast romantic comedies as if they’re the exception to the rule. If watching two (or three or more) people fall in love gives you all the feels, then why not enjoy it?
Here are a few of our favourite romantic comedies:
About Time (2013) – Gin’s Pick
This movie is a favourite of mine because of the romance between the characters Mary and Tim. If you haven’t watched this yet, I highly recommend it! I don’t want to spoil the details, but Mary and Tim meet on a blind date and instantly fall in love. Long story short, events happen. Time travel happens, and things get all out of whack. So, Tim has to put a little more effort into finding his Mary again. It’s just a beautiful movie, and I hope everyone takes the time to watch it.
Penelope (2007) – Maria’s Pick
This movie is a riff on a modern fairytale, where Penelope suffers from an ancient curse and can only be cured by true love. It’s whimsical and lovely, with fantastic actors, including a dashing young James McAvoy and pre-Moira Catherin O’Hara.
Austenland (2013) – Gin’s Pick
Naturally, I love this because it is a playoff of my all-time favourite novel, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I mean, who doesn’t want to relive history wearing fancy gowns, attending a grand ball, and conversing with the fellas. The flirting, the subtle glances, and well, it’s just great. I could watch this over and over again.
To All the Boys I Loved Before (2018) – Maria’s Pick
You didn’t think I’d leave this one out, did you? It’s a super basic premise; it’s entirely predictable; everything you think is going to happen happens, but this movie gets me in the feels every time. I am a grown woman, but I will smile like a giddy idiot while watching those two crazy, fictional teenagers fall in love. Gah. I need to watch this movie again.
50 First Dates (2004) – Gin’s Pick.
I like the simplicity of this rom-com. I think it’s really sweet that Adam Sandler’s character, Henry, helps his wife (spoiler?) Lucy about their life because she suffers from short-term memory loss. I mean, tell me if I’m wrong, but he fell in love with her, no matter the day she’s having, and he STILL stuck around. Ugh, my heart.