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The Good News: Your winning combination of a sharp sense of humor and passable hygiene has landed you a girlfriend and/or wife. The Bad News: Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and odds are she's going to want you to spend some time watching romantic comedies. Here's how to avoid the worst.


The Classics

Rob Reiner directing and the sharpest script of Nora Ephron's career add up to a lightning-in-a-bottle combination that set the standard for every romantic comedy that followed and gave goofy misanthropes everywhere hope that they too could score with a perky blonde.

Verdict: Countless imitations have made most of the jokes tired clichés by now, but with Meg Ryan at her most adorable and Billy Crystal delivering lines that almost make you want to forgive him for his 1985 single "You Look Marvelous," this genre-defining classic is the Star Wars of romantic comedies. Except with fewer space battles and a significantly less coked-up Carrie Fisher.

Cracked Fact: Sally's famous fake orgasm was actually Ryan's idea, the nearby diner's equally famous punchline was suggested by Crystal. And every time that scene's parodied somewhere, they both die a little inside.


When the first five minutes of a movie feature a six year-old saying "I used to be a heroin addict; now I'm a methadone addict," there's a good chance it won't be going down as the most romantic flick ever made. Then again, one should never underestimate the strange allure of a young, borderline suicidal Christopher Walken.

Verdict: Not only do Allen's one-liners provide more laughs than Diane Keaton's outfits, but two hours of the most dismal relationship failures ever filmed will make your romantic flaws look a lot more forgivable-especially if you've never ditched your girlfriend for her adopted Vietnamese daughter.

Cracked Fact: A scene where Allen sneezes while holding a snuffbox full of cocaine was an accident, but got so many laughs it was left in the final cut.

With a satire that takes on two genres at once and ends up being one of the funniest and most quotable movies of the past five years, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright fused quirky romance with George Romero to bring us the world's first "RomZomCom."

Verdict: A slacker getting his life together and reclaiming the love of his life is boring, but a slacker getting his life together and reclaiming his lost love while under constant threat of being devoured by the shambling hordes of the walking dead? That's genius.

Cracked Fact: Ask any married woman: There's nothing more romantic than shooting your own zombified mother in the head with a rifle.

ALSO CLASSICS: Notting Hill, The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Underrated

Originally titled The Adventures of King Bastard and the Romulan Child , the largely unlikeable cast is saved by Hugh Grant playing a self-described "emotionally stunted asshole." It's an amazing performance, second only to the time he put Colin Firth through a plate-glass window in Bridget Jones's Diary.

Verdict: Trust us, this one's all about how awesome Grant really is, but the scene where Marcus shuffles through school singing "Shake Ya Ass" by Mystikal might just be the funniest thing in the entire movie.

Cracked Fact: As recently as 2003, filmmakers still thought it was a good idea to end on a freeze-frame of a laughing child, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.


Back before he traded teenage girls for Jake Gyllenhall and a scenic mountaintop view, Heath Ledger caught a break from the late '90s push to make Shakespeare hip for the kids. And since Shakespeare never wrote a story about an ugly girl suddenly becoming beautiful when she takes off her glasses, this one's already one step ahead of every other teen romance.

Verdict: Considering that it's Taming of the Shrew without the puns and set in a high school, it actually works out a lot better than you'd think-although to be fair, Julia Stiles' "I need agua!" would stand as the worse use of Spanish on film until Mind of Mencia 's debut six years later.

Cracked Fact: Even if you're single, you may want to keep in mind that there's a scene in this one where an 18-year-old Stiles performs a drunken table dance at a high school beer bash. Just puttin' that out there.

The DVD's box art is almost exactly the same as 2003's How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, but this one manages to avoid being anywhere near as derivative as, well, anything Richard Gere's done since Pretty Woman. Instead, it offers up sharp writing, slapstick comedy and the occasional animal attack-and while those aren't the standard ingredients for romance, they should be.

Verdict: The main plot might be faintly ridiculous, but a cameo appearance by Patton Oswalt and a laugh-out-loud hilarious scene where Zooey Deschanel tries to buy a shotgun from The Daily Show's Rob Corddry push it to must-see status.

Cracked Fact: Except for that one time that he fought dragons, Matthew McConaughey's essentially been playing Wooderson from Dazed and Confused for thirteen years.

ALSO UNDERRATED: Love Actually, Bridget Jones's Diary

Total Crap

Once the success of When Harry Met Sally made her a multi-kajillionaire, Nora Ephron turned over actual writing duties to the ScripTron 9000 robot, which produced this charming formula: Cute quirky girl meets cute quirky guy and, despite various factors keeping them apart, they fall in love, ditch their respective mates and end up together in just under two hours. SEE ALSO: Every single romantic comedy made in the 1990s.

Verdict: It may be responsible for dozens of knock-offs-including one where Meg Ryan's romanced by a time-traveling Hugh Jackman and another that's built around the somewhat creepy notion of sex by email leading to a fulfilling relationship-but it does have its brief moments where you won't want to punch the cute out of someone.

Cracked Fact: For Tom Hanks, this flick was just a stepping-stone on his way to becoming one of Hollywood's biggest, most bankable stars. Meg Ryan? She's pretty much still doing this.


One of the vilest monstrosities ever committed to film. The "romance" aspect centers around our jealous, stalker-esque protagonist (Julia Roberts) and her attempts to utterly ruin the lives of people who have achieved happiness while she remains alone and, with good reason, unloved. As for the alleged comedy, it falls somewhere between Corky Romano and Schindler's List.

Verdict: Romances centered around a thoroughly reprehensible protagonist that still manage to be fun and entertaining are incredibly difficult to pull off, as evidenced by the fact that this attempt failed miserably.

Cracked Fact: Oddly enough, Julia Roberts was a lot more likeable when she having sex for money in Pretty Woman.

Who would've thought that a crime-themed romantic comedy from the stars of Reindeer Games and Anaconda would turn out so unbelievably horrible? You know, aside from the movie-going public.

Verdict : If you're TV surfing at two in the morning and catch the scene where Jennifer Lopez threatens to rip someone's eye out while a heavily-accented Ben Affleck snaps a guy's laptop in half while shouting "www-dot-suck-my-dick-dot-com!", it briefly and unintentionally becomes the most hilarious movie ever made. Any longer than that and you'll reflexively claw your own eyes out.

Cracked Fact: Many box-office flops like Ishtar and Waterworld aren't as bad as their reputations would lead you to believe. Seriously, though: Gigli fucking blows.

ALSO TOTAL CRAP: I Love Trouble, Runaway Bride

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