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.
In a British invasion just as dominating as the ’60s rock & roll one, the mid-’90s saw everyone’s favorite Old World-ers make the Nora Ephron formula, well, funny. Notting Hill
is probably the best of the Brits’ romcom onslaught, taking a high concept (movie star falls for ordinary guy) and mining a laugh a minute.
Say what you will about any man who, like our President, acts confused for a living, but that Hugh Grant sure is a charmer. The film plays to its star’s strengths, allowing Grant to do his nervously stammering thing in the face of Julia Roberts’ cool and in-charge movie star (though it should be noted that the film does suffer from the fact that, though believable, Roberts is never quite likeable). Notting Hill
even offers up one of the finest quirky sidekicks in romcom history: Rhys Ifans’ goofy Welshman, a well-meaning idiot that’s part Falstaff and part Kramer. And if that wasn’t enough to push it over the edge, there’s even an Alec Baldwin cameo, in which he does what he does best: plays an arrogant asshole.
While Notting Hill
may rock, it also offers one of the worst films within a film that has ever been put on screen: while Grant is courting her, Roberts is doing publicity for a film in which she plays the lead in a love story set in space.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Judd Apatow’s film about Steve Carell’s nerdy virgin on a quest to get laid achieved instant classic status two summers ago. While the log line sounds like it could have turned into creepy middle-aged version of American Pie
, the script and performances combine to create a cast of characters that are groin-grabbingly hilarious while also lived-in and genuine.
Carell takes a character that could have come off as a serial killer candidate (as the script hilariously acknowledges in the climax) and turns him into a warm, likable guy that you want to identify with despite the whole never-having-touched-a-vagina thing. The film also boasts a tremendous supporting cast—Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogan bring fresh angles to the typically thankless roles of “horny guys on the prowl.” To see just how poorly the role of “horny guys on the prowl” can be executed, check out TBS’ atrocious sitcom, My Boys
. It’ll give you a whole new respect for what
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
’s supporting cast accomplishes.Audit Fact:
After languishing in development for years, the film finally got the green light when studio bosses saw how much money was made by Mel Gibson’s much less funny hit film about a 33-year-old virgin.UNDERRATEDLove Actually
What critics called a saccharin mosaic, we call a flat out enjoyable romantic comedy. What turns your brain into an unquestioning mush of warm feelings more than British romcoms? How about a dash of the ol’ Christmas spirit? This movie covers all the heartstring bases, and while its makers’ minds were very clearly on autopilot when making it, sometimes a sure bet isn’t the worst thing in the world.