The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies

The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies

The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies


Maybe you just went through a terrible breakup, you've been single for a while, or you've had a string of genuinely terrible dates. All of these are perfectly valid reasons one might have for avoiding romantic comedies. The worst films in the genre can be sappy, saccharine, and contrived. While it can be nice sometimes to watch a guy leap from a helicopter to chase down his lady love like in "Anyone But You," or a famous actress seeking out the boy she's into like in "Notting Hill," romantic comedies just aren't for everyone. However, we're here to make a case for these five picks.

From genuine classics to irreverent comedies to indie flicks to a time-travel movie that pulls a bait-and-switch about its real focus, these romantic comedies might just charm you, even if you think you can't stand any romantic comedies. For people who hate most romantic comedies, these five will end up stealing your heart anyway.


When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies


You can't discuss great romantic comedies without bringing "When Harry Met Sally…" into the conversation. Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron, the story of a slow-burn friendship-turned-romance between Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) and Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) is basically the gold standard for all romantic comedies.

Even if you can't stomach the romance, there's so much to love in this movie. Ephron's gift for dialogue really shines here, especially in the hands of Ryan and Crystal, who share a sharp, crackling chemistry — whether they're bickering on a drive from Chicago to New York or joking around at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The movie's thesis is that men and women simply can't be friends, and though it does pair Harry and Sally up in the end, the film makes a meal out of their friendship over the years. Reiner also shows off New York's gorgeous fall weather as a backdrop for the duo's inside jokes and errands around the city. Plus, Carrie Fisher is there to steal every single scene she's in.

The movie that gave the world quotes like, "I'll have what she's having" is always worth watching, even if a romantic comedy doesn't feel like the right vibe for you. "When Harry Met Sally…" is a classic for a reason, and it makes for a particularly great New Year's watch.


Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies


Written by star Jason Segel and directed by Nicholas Stoller, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is an acidic, funny, and unflinchingly honest look at a bad breakup — as well as a movie that looks beyond the immediate grief and pain and imagines a better future for its protagonist. That protagonist is Segel's Peter Bretter, a composer who primarily pens music for his famous girlfriend Sarah Marshall's (Kristen Bell) huge film and television projects. When she suddenly dumps him after five years together, Peter is devastated. He's so devastated, in fact, that he books a trip to Hawai'i. When he arrives in Oahu, however, he discovers that Sarah and her new boyfriend, rockstar Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), are both staying at the resort.

This conceit would be funny enough, but Segel and Stoller wisely throw Mila Kunis' Rachel Jansen into the mix to win over Segel as he gets over his ex. The romance between Rachel and Peter feels organic and fresh, and Bell gets a chance to show off her crueler side years before she truly tapped into her worst instincts on "The Good Place." Plus, if you really hate the romance parts, you can fast-forward to Peter's Dracula musical at the very end, which features puppets made by Jim Henson's workshop and performances from actual puppeteers (alongside Segel and Bill Hader).


What If (2013)

The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies


A guy falls in love with a girl, only to discover that she already has a boyfriend — it's a classic trope of the romantic comedy genre, but it's played to perfection in the 2013 film "What If." Incidentally, the film is called "The F Word" pretty much everywhere but in the United States, but the MPAA took issue with the insinuation that "friends," the "F word" referenced, could appear to mean something different.

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The film focuses on Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), a med-school dropout who hasn't dated since his girlfriend, a fellow medical student, cheated on him with their professor. However, when he meets Chantry (Zoë Kazan), he thinks things might be turning around just a bit. That's until he's faced with Chantry's handsome, successful boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall), who works as an attorney for the United Nations. Still, Wallace and Chantry become extremely close friends, and when Ben has to move from Toronto to Dublin for work, the relationship between Chantry and Ben becomes strained, leading to an unexpected moment between her and Wallace.

Featuring whimsical on-screen animations, a truly believable central couple — Radcliffe and Kazan are seriously charming together — and a supporting cast that includes Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis, "What If" is a delight from start to finish, even if you're not in the loving mood. Driver's line delivery in a scene where he's eating nachos is, honestly, reason enough to watch the film.


About Time (2013)

The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies


Richard Curtis' "About Time" seems like a romantic comedy at first, but ultimately, this sweet movie is about appreciating the one life you have and spending time with the people you love. The film focuses on a young man named Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), who discovers shortly before he leaves his parents' home in Cornwall to move to London that he can manipulate time. Actually, all the men in the Lake family can; all they have to do is go into a closed, dark space alone like a closet or a corner, squeeze their first, close their eyes, and imagine the moment to which they'd like to return. Using this newfound power, Tim successfully woos American ex-pat Mary (Rachel McAdams) after moving to London, and after a series of time-travel-related mishaps, the two finally end up dating. That's when Tim gets some truly awful news: his beloved father James (Bill Nighy) is dying.

There's one big rule when it comes to the Lake family's time travel powers: once a new baby is born, you can't travel to a time before their birth, or the child will be completely different. Because Mary is pregnant during James' last days, Tim clings that much harder to his final days with his father, repeating them as often as possible. Even after losing James, Tim takes his dad's lessons to heart. 

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The film concludes with Tim re-living a completely mundane day just to experience the highs and the lows, and ultimately, this is what makes "About Time" a philosophical film about cherishing one's life — as well as a story about a boy and his beloved father — rather than some boilerplate rom-com.


The Big Sick (2017)

The 5 Best Rom-Coms For People Who Hate Romantic Comedies


The second entry on this list to feature Zoë Kazan, the 2017 romantic comedy "The Big Sick" is anything but conventional. Penned by future Marvel star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon, the movie tells the true story of Nanjiani and Gordon's romance, including a devastating medical setback that actually happened to Gordon while the two were dating. 

Onscreen, Emily is played by Kazan, and after she and Nanjiani's character (also named Kumail) meet, they start dating fairly quickly. Kumail doesn't initially tell Emily that his very conservative Pakistani parents expect him to marry a girl from their home country, and when he starts going on "dates" with these prospective brides, Emily ends the relationship. However, when Kumail gets a phone call from Emily's family and learns she's in a medically induced coma, he rushes to her bedside.

What makes "The Big Sick" particularly interesting as a romantic comedy is that the female lead isn't physically present for a large part of the film. Still, it's refreshing to see a new take, and Nanjiani plays perfectly off of Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily's parents, Terry and Beth. Gordon and Nanjiani earned an Academy Award nod for their original script, which was well-deserved, as there aren't many romantic comedies out there as sharp, incisive, or heartfelt as "The Big Sick."


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