14 Rotten Rom-Coms We Love

There aren't many critics whose hearts raced for these romantic comedies, but we adore them all the same.

by | February 11, 2019 | Comments

Romantic comedies often rely on a specific formula to dole out warm fuzzy feelings and fantasy wish fulfillment, so it’s no wonder they’re frequently dismissed as disposable fluff. Sometimes, though, that’s exactly the sort of undemanding entertainment you’re in the mood for, and when that mood strikes, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as some familiar comfort food, even if it amounts to empty calories. This isn’t to say all rom-coms are bad; some of the best movies ever made fall into the genre. But we all have our guilty pleasures, and as Valentine’s Day rolls around, we invite you to bask in some personal favorites that, for one reason or another, failed to enrapture the critics. Snuggle up with your dearly beloved — or a gallon of your favorite ice cream — for these Rotten rom-coms we love anyway, and let us know what you’d put on the list.

27 Dresses (2008) 41%

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride… until you fall for a newspaper columnist who writes a piece about your dilemma, that is. This one’s got everything you’d expect from the genre — the unrequited love, the wacky sibling, the good-looking red herring, the explosive misunderstanding, the subsequent self-realization and redemption — and it even sort of mirrors the plot of another movie on this list (Runaway Bride). But writer Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) infuses the admittedly familiar proceedings with wit and heart, and the world hadn’t quite learned to hate Katherine Heigl just yet.

50 First Dates (2004) 45%

If you need someone to play a guileless sweetheart who rises every morning with a sunny disposition and absolutely no memory of the previous day, you could do a lot worse than Drew Barrymore, who helps ground this Adam Sandler vehicle even as she perpetually suffers a reverse Groundhog Day of sorts. To his credit, Sandler manages to tone it down a notch, and Rob Schneider is great in the only type of role he should ever play: the goofy sidekick. Yeah, it’s crude in spots and the high-concept premise is a bit of a stretch, but it’s also genuinely charming if you let down your guard.

America's Sweethearts (2001) 32%

Considering the cast of America’s Sweethearts, there probably isn’t a more appropriate title for any film on this list. Catherine Zeta-Jones may never have scored anything quite as iconic in the genre as When Harry Met Sally, Say Anything, or half of Julia Roberts‘ filmography, but the combination of Roberts, John Cusack, and Billy Crystal in an outsized romantic farce set in Hollywood? Come on. It’s a little uneven and not as funny as it should be, given the wackiness of its story, but it’s got some hilarious bits, and it skewers the industry pretty thoroughly while offering a reason for Cusack and Roberts to combine their rom-com powers for once.

French Kiss (1995) 48%

She’s the betrayed fiancée on her way to France to win back her lover; he’s the gruff, “hygiene-deficient” Frenchman who uses her as an unwitting mule to smuggle the goods he needs to start his own vineyard. Do they bristle at each other at first? Yes. Do they eventually fall for each other? Yes. Does he rush to the airport to declare his love for her? Yes. Is it all wonderful? Yes. Chemistry can go a long way, and in French Kiss, Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline make such a convincing odd couple that it makes up for some of the film’s other shortcomings.

Head over Heels (2001) 10%

It’s reasonable to assume the premise of Rear Window might not make for a jaunty romantic comedy — and a lot of critics would largely agree with you — but there’s something to be said about a movie that utilizes a murder (albeit staged) as the catalyst for a meet-cute. Specifically, it’s a ballsy move, and it only works becaue Freddie Prinze Jr. is at his heartthrobbiest here and Monica Potter flusters with grace. Mix them together with a bit of action and you’ve got a Grosse Pointe Blank for the teenage set.

The Holiday (2006) 49%

Sometimes, all you need to put a little spark in your love life is a change of scenery. That’s the idea behind The Holiday, which stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as two women from opposite sides of the Atlantic who agree to swap houses for Christmas and end up in relationships (one with Jude Law and the other with Jack Black). It’s a simple premise that plays out as you might expect, but it benefits tremendously from its cast, Nancy Meyers‘ directing, and the kind of earnestness frequently absent from modern rom-coms.

Just Friends (2005) 43%

Ah, the friend zone, the relationship quagmire that slowly engulfs and suffocates the best of us before we even realize we’re in it. Back in 2005, a pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds fled this platonic impasse in Just Friends as Chris, an overweight nerd who returns to his 10-year high school reunion with a slimmer bod and a pop star on his arm, only to find he still has feelings for his childhood crush and BFF (Amy Smart). It’s not the first time we’ve seen this story play out, but Reynolds is in prime goofy-leading-man mode here, and the supporting cast, which includes Anna Faris, Chris Klein, and Stephen Root, is golden.

Just Wright (2010) 46%

Like a lot of the films on this list, Just Wright fell victim to its own overreliance on genre cliches. Also like a lot of the films on this list, Just Wright is entirely enjoyable if you can look past those cliches. Queen Latifah and Common — two stars previously better known for their musical talents — prove they can hold a film together, and their easy interplay elevates an otherwise predictable film. It also doesn’t hurt that the cast is rounded out by people like Paula Patton, Phylicia Rashad, and Pam Grier.

Maid in Manhattan (2002) 38%

Jennifer Lopez entered the rom-com game a bit later than some of her contemporaries, but films like Maid in Manhattan paved the way for a long career as a big-screen sweetheart that continues to this day. Here she plays the titular hotel housekeeper, who’s mistaken for a high-profile socialite by a senatorial candidate (Ralph Fiennes) and begins a romance with him under false pretenses. You can pretty much guess where it goes from there, but thanks to Lopez’s bubbly charisma, it’s a breezy Cinderella story with a lot of heart.

The Proposal (2009) 45%

Ask anyone to name their top five underrated rom-coms and The Proposal is likely to make the list. This fan favorite pairs immensely likable stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in a comedy about a publishing exec from Canada facing deportation who makes a deal with her assistant in exchange for his hand in marriage — and the accompanying citizenship status that comes with it. Of course they discover feelings for each other that weren’t there before, and it all culminates in a last-minute desertion and a public declaration of love, but with Bullock and Reynolds leading the way and a supporting cast that includes Mary Steenburgen, Betty White, Craig T. Nelson, and a scene-stealing pup named Kevin, it’s so much better than it has any right to be.

Runaway Bride (1999) 46%

Pretty Woman is widely recognized as the standard-bearer of modern romantic comedies, so it’s not surprising that the director (Garry Marshall) and stars (Julia Roberts and Richard Gere) of that film decided to give it another go. Is it as charming? Not exactly, but the familiarity feels like a warm blanket, and Roberts and Gere are such pros that they make it work. The film gets docked a few points for following formula, but that’s par for the course here, and at the end of the day, it’s just so damn likable that it doesn’t really matter.

Sweet Home Alabama (2002) 38%

One thing Sweet Home Alabama has over its peers from the get-go is that its central romance takes place between a couple who are already married. There’s no awkward first meeting, no getting-to-know-you phase, and no secrets to unravel… save for the fact that Melanie, played by Reese Witherspoon, is hiding her Deep South roots and estranged husband (Josh Lucas) from her new fiancée (Patrick Dempsey). In other words, this is a reconciliation rom-com, which puts a slightly different spin on the proceedings, and it’s populated by a killer cast that includes Candice Bergen, Fred Ward, Jean Smart, and Mary Lynn Rajskub, among others. Thanks to that cast — and Witherspoon’s effortless charms — the film is tender and funny in all the right ways.

The Sweetest Thing (2002) 27%

The Sweetest Thing is road-trip rom-com about three club-hopping besties banding together to reunite one of them with the hot guy who got away. It’s also a movie that stops midway through for an impromptu musical number about penis size in the middle of a Chinese restaurant. Does it have many insights to offer about love and singlehood? Maybe not, but in a pre-Bridesmaids era, seeing a trio of capable actresses carry a raunchy comedy from the female perspective is something of a revelation.

Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! (2004) 54%

Nothing in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! is overtly nasty, which is why it endures as a good-natured exemplar of the rom-com genre. Even when Josh Duhamel is playing the cad, he’s kind of charming, and you can’t help but sympathize with Topher Grace‘s Pete a little. But it’s Kate Bosworth who carries the film on her shoulders with her wide-eyed wonder and makes you root for her every step of the way, no matter who she ends up with. Throw in a great cast that includes Nathan Lane, Ginnifer Goodwin, Sean Hayes, and Gary Cole, just to name a few, and you’ve got yourself a cute little romance to cuddle up with, even if it sometimes feels like it’s just going through the motions.


Tag Cloud

technology dceu jamie lee curtis Nat Geo 2018 police drama zero dark thirty hispanic scorecard Tomatazos Extras Mudbound Action SXSW FX YouTube Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt supernatural romance dramedy toronto universal monsters TLC Reality Competition Thanksgiving spain unscripted Cannes ghosts Winter TV CW Seed theme song slashers directors Arrowverse NBC NYCC canceled TV shows Oscars Music facebook SundanceTV concert Freeform DGA TNT FOX Disney streaming service OneApp children's TV Best and Worst Valentine's Day Teen Writers Guild of America Marvel Studios 2017 Nickelodeon die hard Warner Bros. Superheroe period drama USA Network Trivia documentaries BBC America TCA Syfy Amazon Drama Song of Ice and Fire VH1 Esquire video on demand cancelled television streaming Black Mirror critics Netflix Film doctor who Fantasy Western Calendar crime Nominations APB BBC werewolf harry potter Ellie Kemper Marathons football AMC series Kids & Family psychological thriller cancelled TV series Pride Month Sundance Crunchyroll social media TCM Binge Guide Funimation Election Marvel Anna Paquin SDCC mutant anthology canceled CBS All Access television indiana jones golden globes Baby Yoda Cosplay award winner game of thrones PaleyFest aliens spanish language Epix spy thriller Photos Netflix Christmas movies The Witch elevated horror franchise Mary poppins teaser Peacock Country Rom-Com Ovation worst movies MCU E3 comiccon TV renewals binge Amazon Prime Video parents OWN Emmys USA foreign LGBTQ chucky mockumentary renewed TV shows HBO Max Animation TIFF japanese Discovery Channel cancelled Toys Comic Book The Arrangement Amazon Prime Countdown Turner Classic Movies archives Superheroes Trophy Talk movie 71st Emmy Awards video crime drama Stephen King romantic comedy fast and furious breaking bad spider-man name the review historical drama Quiz Paramount Network latino Comedy comedies mission: impossible Rock boxoffice El Rey Cartoon Network WGN Rocky 007 sitcom zombies halloween President transformers Christmas CNN spanish best Podcast remakes robots 45 Star Trek talk show Captain marvel Year in Review hist cancelled TV shows Columbia Pictures child's play American Society of Cinematographers TV Land 2016 The Purge stop motion Interview asian-american Martial Arts venice strong female leads a nightmare on elm street composers crime thriller Awards The Walking Dead news Mindy Kaling obituary nbcuniversal french quibi Musicals sequels Emmy Nominations rotten Masterpiece stoner book Television Academy ratings Disney disaster Opinion scary movies revenge cars A&E cats Paramount witnail Bravo festivals Logo 20th Century Fox 24 frames sequel CMT indie cooking cults Trailer zombie superhero DC Universe History Sony Pictures thriller sports TCA 2017 Pop Spike Box Office joker X-Men Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sneak Peek psycho ABC Family San Diego Comic-Con HBO Go Brie Larson RT History FXX RT21 Apple TV Plus crossover dogs 72 Emmy Awards kids WarnerMedia dc classics Spectrum Originals Fox Searchlight Mary Tyler Moore true crime rotten movies we love Endgame Sundance TV See It Skip It cops nfl Family tv talk science fiction blockbuster CBS natural history Grammys Turner YouTube Premium LGBT GLAAD Character Guide dark independent Lifetime Christmas movies reviews Classic Film First Reviews The Academy singing competition halloween tv toy story New York Comic Con IFC Films Travel Channel Horror discovery movies Musical Crackle cartoon screenings Winners documentary Amazon Studios Academy Awards all-time Video Games Holidays Women's History Month Infographic BET nature Fox News Polls and Games cinemax Tubi Heroines politics Disney Channel screen actors guild PBS Adult Swim christmas movies DC streaming service Food Network VOD BAFTA emmy awards Shudder TBS Elton John Vudu travel FX on Hulu Lionsgate Starz Reality Mystery vampires twilight laika Pirates game show worst TCA Winter 2020 Lucasfilm A24 satire Pet Sematary Summer Rocketman BET Awards GIFs Chernobyl dragons YouTube Red Certified Fresh stand-up comedy MSNBC Dark Horse Comics Hallmark Hear Us Out Apple TV+ sag awards MTV IFC Biopics 2015 Disney+ Disney Plus HBO Lifetime versus Fall TV The CW Hulu Universal animated what to watch VICE TCA Awards Walt Disney Pictures TV docudrama adaptation Sci-Fi festival blaxploitation Pixar adventure GoT Apple finale Pop TV BBC One green book 4/20 Black History Month 21st Century Fox Hallmark Christmas movies DC Comics reboot Comics on TV Spring TV political drama 2020 YA criterion DirecTV Schedule Avengers 2019 Marvel Television diversity National Geographic ESPN free movies Tumblr Creative Arts Emmys ITV First Look E! Acorn TV australia Premiere Dates Set visit medical drama Shondaland Mary Poppins Returns biography Disney Plus Britbox south america based on movie space Comedy Central miniseries Sundance Now spinoff serial killer Super Bowl richard e. Grant Film Festival italian Tarantino Showtime Watching Series Red Carpet films batman comic Ghostbusters hollywood anime casting Television Critics Association comics PlayStation TruTV ABC war justice league Awards Tour Star Wars Holiday