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) 42%

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) 44%

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) 39%

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) 26%

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

Certified Fresh LGBT Animation Apple TV+ golden globe awards thriller TCM nbcuniversal Countdown adventure trailers hispanic heritage month venice SXSW adenture marvel comics Spike spain satire FOX First Look Sci-Fi Creative Arts Emmys Sundance Now Food Network NYCC CMT 21st Century Fox Ellie Kemper live action best Super Bowl TNT Anna Paquin El Rey renewed TV shows Esquire CBS All Access Reality Competition mockumentary Tumblr concert Teen latino elevated horror DC Universe Action new york BBC One Sundance cancelled critic resources serial killer travel a nightmare on elm street dramedy children's TV Interview romantic comedy ITV GIFs Britbox YouTube Grammys dceu international comics stoner streaming movies hidden camera french jamie lee curtis canceled TV shows Infographic prank 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Black History Month versus marvel cinematic universe Valentine's Day godzilla universal monsters Pop TV SDCC Starz Disney+ Disney Plus Quiz Red Carpet Paramount Network Marvel Studios PlayStation classics Heroines Pacific Islander Fantasy rotten Hallmark SundanceTV TCA Lifetime Christmas movies Marathons video on demand Marvel toronto police drama Lionsgate 007 Podcast Logo sequels docuseries docudrama Cartoon Network obituary Pop critics Wes Anderson BBC America television Television Academy Disney streaming service Box Office American Society of Cinematographers ratings indie E3 comic CW Seed slasher live event comic books hist Christmas Brie Larson strong female leads christmas movies Film Festival worst Amazon Studios IMDb TV 24 frames politics Turner Classic Movies adaptation comiccon 2020 slashers Martial Arts ESPN NBA Syfy Chilling Adventures of Sabrina saw Apple TV Plus Broadway BET Awards Bravo social media tv talk Image Comics miniseries comedies hispanic Endgame 45 spy thriller Amazon fresh USA Network book adaptation popular Nat Geo asian-american based on movie ghosts Elton John 71st Emmy Awards Country period drama History target WGN Shudder cults supernatural Year in Review Alien discovery Hulu Showtime biography justice league royal family TV renewals spider-man A&E cinemax genre The Arrangement Musicals 1990s space LGBTQ Rock robots posters wonder woman Walt Disney Pictures feel good Universal art house scary movies quibi VOD criterion The Walt Disney Company Emmy Nominations Winter TV deadpool scorecard Rom-Com movie Black Mirror DirecTV Pirates TBS halloween tv Crunchyroll Extras joker TIFF cooking Columbia Pictures 99% Warner Bros. 73rd Emmy Awards crime thriller golden globes medical drama dark Avengers New York Comic Con BAFTA The Purge mission: impossible sag awards sitcom DC streaming service National Geographic AMC nature Discovery Channel Trailer Calendar psycho die hard new star wars movies ABC Signature Lifetime 2016 Chernobyl crime singing competition reviews Fox Searchlight dc zero dark thirty independent screenings Mary Poppins Returns Crackle movies HBO Go series OWN anime Trophy Talk finale 93rd Oscars Paramount transformers remakes GLAAD football witnail game show unscripted chucky natural history blaxploitation RT History sports know your critic lord of the rings VICE kaiju Lucasfilm Captain marvel Disney Plus X-Men Watching Series Rocky Travel Channel Superheroes theme song Comic-Con@Home 2021 Television Critics Association IFC teaser disaster FX on Hulu 2015 ABC Family HBO BBC psychological thriller legend WarnerMedia Mary poppins PaleyFest dreamworks parents Shondaland Cannes rt labs critics edition Mystery emmy awards TV One Epix spider-verse Western animated free movies Apple Holidays worst movies Film spanish TV movies Drama Thanksgiving Sundance TV Sneak Peek superhero Best and Worst Neflix Character Guide comic book movies archives Amazon Prime Video Marvel Television San Diego Comic-Con king arthur Writers Guild of America The Witch Reality Comedy Central APB BET DGA cancelled television 20th Century Fox streaming Comics on TV olympics doctor who Legendary Awards fast and furious Biopics twilight RT21 Video Games green book AMC Plus Instagram Live Holiday australia sequel zombies Awards Tour indiana jones black comedy Paramount Plus Cosplay werewolf facebook child's play Star Trek sopranos political drama cars reboot documentary Funimation Fox News cancelled TV series Tubi Comedy spanish language boxing Tomatazos superman Comic Book war Turner japan award winner Opinion hollywood Pride Month First Reviews suspense 72 Emmy Awards Ghostbusters young adult Stephen King 4/20 crossover The Academy Trivia james bond Hallmark Christmas movies Exclusive Video Nickelodeon Family franchise VH1 casting YouTube Premium The CW ID nfl TV USA book Hear Us Out festivals 2018 TLC italian Binge Guide monster movies Sony Pictures FXX news Netflix MSNBC 2019 new zealand cancelled TV shows Acorn TV MCU scene in color historical drama Nominations japanese kids blockbusters FX Classic Film DC Comics 2017 Emmys pirates of the caribbean canceled diversity IFC Films talk show GoT gangster biopic crime drama TCA Winter 2020 TCA 2017 harry potter Academy Awards Peacock stop motion Adult Swim mob vampires foreign dragons documentaries mcc Tokyo Olympics rom-coms ABC E! aapi Polls and Games films Premiere Dates scary Fall TV zombie heist movie richard e. Grant laika Musical Superheroe Pet Sematary anthology Music directors cartoon ViacomCBS President rt archives women comic book movie TCA Awards black halloween aliens Baby Yoda Arrowverse NBC telelvision mutant CNN Toys technology revenge all-time Spectrum Originals Disney Channel Dark Horse Comics dogs TV Land TruTV Horror rotten movies we love binge MTV toy story Winners OneApp 90s action-comedy Summer YA Pixar name the review stand-up comedy See It Skip It Oscars Rocketman A24 Kids & Family blockbuster Masterpiece video Schedule Photos Set visit screen actors guild Mary Tyler Moore dexter HBO Max Universal Pictures Women's History Month composers Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Tarantino cats PBS king kong vs. YouTube Red true crime spinoff cops breaking bad rt labs festival Freeform high school Disney Amazon Prime debate Star Wars razzies Spring TV boxoffice Mudbound game of thrones The Walking Dead CBS jurassic park what to watch south america batman 2021 Election Vudu Ovation basketball science fiction Netflix Christmas movies Song of Ice and Fire Mindy Kaling kong romance