For the past few years, critics and audiences alike have lamented the death of the romantic comedy. With each movie filled with cliches and run-of-the-mill storylines, not to mention the box office failure of many films in the genre over the past few years, the once-beloved rom-com is definitely going through a rough patch these days.
However, let's not let a few meh films recently give the entire genre a bad rap. That would be a darn shame, because rom-coms can be smart, thought-provoking, hilarious and heartwarming all at the same time. You just have to know where to look.
There have actually been several movies released in the last few years that reinvented the genre and gave us hope for more wonderful rom-coms to come. Here are five movies that will have you looking at rom-coms in a totally different way.
1. Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013)
Richard Linklater's Before trilogy isn't your typical boy-meets-girl story. The three films, chronicle the relationship of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) over two decades. During the couple's existential conversations throughout the trilogy, they cover the fear of what could be, the fear of what could have been and, finally, the fear of what they've become. There's not really any grand, romantic gestures or a focused career woman trying to have it all in these films. They're just about love and life.
2. Amelie (2001)
This French film that brought lead actress Audrey Tautou worldwide fame is an imaginative film about love in many forms. It's a little hard to describe exactly what goes on in this imaginative, funny and bizarre film, but it's basically about a young woman that goes on adventures performing random acts of kindness around Paris and then stumbles upon love herself. Amelie will take you to a place you didn't think was possible with rom-coms.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Based on the graphic novel series of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is so action-packed, you'll think you were watching a superhero flick rather than a rom-com. The movie chronicles Scott's (Michael Cera) fight to win Ramona's (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) heart by defeating all of her ex-lovers. Yes, that plot most definitely gives off a damsel-in-distress vibe, but all of the male and female characters in the movie are so smart, strong and kickass that you'll just come away from it ready to take on the world, no matter who you are.
4. Magic Mike (2012)
Aside from just featuring a bunch of good-looking actors with their clothes off, there's actually a love story at the heart of Magic Mike. This film is different from other rom-coms in that a man, Mike (Channing Tatum), has to choose between his career and his relationship instead of the rom-com cliche of a woman dealing with this dilemma. This film is way better than Tatum's more generic rom-com with Rachel McAdams, 2012's The Vow, anyway.
5. The One I Love (2014)
Rom-coms have a tendency to be extremely straightforward. However, if you're looking for something a bit more surreal and trippy, look no further than The One I Love. In this movie, when Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) have hit a roadblock in their relationship, they go on a weekend retreat to rekindle their romance. However, while looking for their better selves, they find something completely unexpected.