Romantic movies that don’t suck

AKA romantic movies you can make your boyfriend watch without feeling guilty.

Romantic movies — we all know them. We can all name several: Titanic, The Seven Year Itch, Dirty Dancing, Eat, Pray, Love, A Walk to Remember. Most of the time, we hate them. They’re boring. They’re cheesy. They’re farfetched. They give women crazy, unrealistic ideals and expectations.

So, what exactly is a romantic film? Well, it’s a movie that centres on the relationship of two characters that are seemingly made for each other but have to overcome obstacles to be together. They tend to end happily, but this isn’t entirely necessary.

Thing is, over the years, romantic movies have become some sort of unfortunate, tacky cliché. In most films, the romance and the plot intertwine. In romantic movies, the romance is the plot. And they’re so over-the-top and mushy and supposedly female-oriented that most of the time, even women can’t stomach them.

And yet we still end up forcing our boyfriends into watching the things. It’s a bizarre phenomenon, too scientific for a mere writer like myself to understand. What I can tell you is that there are, in fact, some good romantic movies out there. You can even find great romantic movies.

The next time your girlfriend says, “let’s watch something romantic”, or the next time you think to yourself, “I want to watch something romantic with my boyfriend, but I don’t want him to hate me,” remember the films on this list. They might just save your relationship.

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The Princess Bride

It’s the best love story of all time! How can you not be smitten by Westley and Buttercup?

The Princess Bride is fairly unique as a romantic film. Despite the fact that it follows the template: two people are in love, but must overcome obstacles to be together, The Princess Bride still finds ways to be hugely original.

First off, it lets the audience know that it doesn’t take itself entirely seriously. It opens with a young Fred Savage, sick and in bed, being told a story by his grandpa. And unfortunately for Fred, it’s a story with kissing. The boy doesn’t want to hear a romantic story, which is great, because certain audience members can relate. At least there’s some sort of understanding for all those poor boyfriends in the audience.

The Princess Bride is also very sincere, though. There are still obstacles for the star-crossed lovers to overcome. In a lot of romantic stories, the obstacles are rather similar: perhaps a jealous ex, or someone a character cheats with, or family members, or a misunderstanding. In The Princess Bride, there’s kind of a misunderstanding, and kind of a character that someone cheats with. In both these instances, though, there’s an original twist. This is what makes The Princess Bride so good: it’s fresh. It isn’t just the same old stuff. The sidekicks are a giant and a very angry Spaniard. Billy Crystal plays a miracle worker. And the little boy who represents the begrudging side of the audience learns that romantic stories don’t have to be awful. If you want to watch a woman complain about men, watch Eat, Pray, Love. If you want to watch a man become a pirate, have a machine take years off his life, and battle giant rats, all in the name of true love, watch The Princess Bride.

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

It’s fairly commonplace for a romantic comedy to be from a woman’s perspective. Often they’re either written by women, for women, or about a woman. Even more often, they’re a combination of these three.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is absolutely none of these things, and yet it is undoubtedly a romantic comedy. At its core, the movie is about a guy and his romantic journey with his ex and a possible new love interest.

These are the only romantic film criteria Forgetting Sarah Marshall follows, though. And this is what makes it a romantic movie that doesn’t suck. The protagonist ultimately learns more about himself than his relationships, which makes the movie deeper than your typical romantic movie. Learning about oneself is ultimately more important than figuring out how to be with someone you’re attracted to. And this is what the character learns. It’s always going to be a better story than guy meets girl, guy chases girl, and after some fiascoes, guy gets girl.

As added bonuses, the cast is awesome, Judd Apatow is involved, and the movie is simply hilarious.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

There are a lot of reasons this film stands out as a romance. The bizarre idea, the artistic style, the amazing journey the characters go on just to be happy.

Something really, really great about it, though, is that if you’re watching this as a couple, you’ll both cry. And there’s no shame in that.

The beauty of this film doesn’t just lie in the romantic relationship — it’s also about learning what’s important in life. What’s worth remembering and holding dear. Even if it seems painful enough to want to forget. In a sense, this film is about the romance, and in a sense it’s about so much more, and that’s what makes it such an extraordinary romantic film.

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(500) Days of Summer

The most important thing about (500) Days of Summer is that the lovers in the film are not star-crossed. They aren’t meant to be. They are destined to break up. The true romantic story of a guy and a girl falling in love and being happy is left to the imagination, not shoved down the viewers’ throats.

That being said, it may be the very best movie about a doomed relationship ever. And even doomed romances have their beautiful moments.

Of course, if nothing else, Joseph Gordon-Levitt dances in it. There’s always that.

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Zack and Miri Make a Porno

You can basically guarantee that when Kevin Smith makes a romantic movie, It’s going to be enjoyable for the entire couple.

The charming dialogue and horribly disgusting situations immediately set it apart from your average romance. It’s another movie that’s a cut above by simply being unique. Two best friends who are both friend zoned by each other realise their feelings for one another while trying to make a porno. In fact, they really have their epiphany while having sex.

That scene is actually a good example of why this movie is so awesome. Many people will tell you that sex and love don’t mean the same thing. They’ll say that sex scenes in movies where characters “make love” and it’s “beautiful” are absolute BS. The fact that falling for each other while having sex was completely unexpected by both people involved simply makes it more believable.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno is original, heartfelt and hilarious – and littered with male-oriented humour.

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The Notebook — KIDDING

Don’t watch The Notebook. Don’t make anyone watch The Notebook. It’s just not worth it.

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