Romantic comedies, aka rom-coms, are the perfect movies to put on when you want to curl up with someone special, with the family, or even on your own. But they can also be pretty hit-or-miss. So which rom-coms are worth watching?
To help you skip the duds and get to the good stuff, we’ve combed through Netflix to find the absolute best choices the service has to offer.
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This classic 1993 fantasy comedy, directed by Harold Ramis, isn’t your traditional rom-com. Much of the film focuses on Bill Murray’s character of Phil Connors, a grumpy weatherman who’s annoyed with having to be on location in a small town to report on the annual Groundhog Day event. After something happens that causes him to re-live the same day over and over again, however, he starts to realize how a change in his attitude has a domino effect. Most notably, in how it pertains to his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell), whom he develops a romantic interest in. While it isn’t an in-your-face rom-com, the subtle yet touching love story is heartwarming.
“You had me at hello.” It’s one of the most romantic lines ever delivered in a film. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, and Cuba Gooding Jr. won for his role as wide receiver Rod Tidwell in this rom-com/sports drama. But the film centered around the title character, played by Tom Cruise, Tidwell’s sports agent. After Maguire ventures out on his own, he finds himself struggling to make it with Tidwell as his only major client. Feeling he deserves more, Tidwell puts his confidence in Maguire to get him a hefty new contract (“show me the money!”). But a side story is Maguire’s burgeoning relationship with Dorothy (Renée Zellweger) and her young son. Whether you saw it back in 1996 or not, this is a rom-com worth watching again and again.
Getting decent reviews since it was released in late May, this film stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani as a couple on the brink of breakup. After they witness a murder, they decide to go on the run to avoid being blamed for something they didn’t do. Forced to stay together under such unexpected circumstances, they begin to reconnect in new ways. The two stars are lauded for their performances and chemistry. As a follow-up to The Big Sick, which got rave reviews, this isn’t director Michael Showalter’s best project (he did, after all, co-create the Wet Hot American Summer franchise). But it’s a worthy watch for a fresh and modern take on the typical rom-com.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
This movie may not be technically classified as a romantic comedy — it’s more of an action-comedy with a romantic foundation. And in our book, that’s a pretty great mix. Based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the title character (Michael Cera) has to battle his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes before he can win her heart. As a slacker musician, he has his work cut out for him as he fights everyone from a Hollywood actor to a super-powered vegan. Released in 2010, the film has garnered a cult following for its savvy mix of comedy, surrealist action, and heart.
Y Tu Mamá También
If you’re looking for something different from the typical sappy rom-com, this classic Mexican erotic drama mixes a unique and compelling story with liberal sex scenes. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Roma), it’s a coming-of-age tale about two teenage boys who go on a wild ride with an unhappily married woman. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdú, it was released in English-speaking markets in 2002. The film, which translates to “And Your Mother Too,” earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
From 1997, this Kevin Smith vehicle stars some of the director’s frequent collaborators, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, and Joey Lauren Adams. The film tells the story of a comics artist (Affleck) who falls for another comic book artist, Alyssa (Adams), after the two meet at a convention. There’s only one issue: She’s a lesbian. The story takes some funny turns but don’t be fooled: It’s all about tender romance at its core. It was lauded for its humor, performances, and direction, and even led to the spinoff Jay and Silent Bob films.
She’s Gotta Have It
Written and directed by Spike Lee, this film helped launch his career back in 1986. In the Mama Mia-like premise, a young woman is dating three men at the same time, each very different from one another. She likes them all for different reasons and thus finds it difficult to commit to just one. Far ahead of its time, the film is more about self-love than anything else. Follow it up with Lee’s 2017 modern series adaptation of the film, also available on Netflix.
This isn’t one of the better-known films on the list, but it was well-received by viewers and critics. Released in 2014, it stars Jenny Slate (Parks and Recreation) as a stand-up comedian who has a one-night stand with a man after breaking up with her boyfriend. The drunken encounter results in pregnancy, after which she decides to get an abortion. The film was lauded for its ability to tackle the sensitive subject matter with “maturity, honesty, and wit.”
Sleeping with Other People
This 2015 film might actually be considered the antithesis of rom-coms. Starring Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Natasha Lyonne, Amanda Peet, and Adam Scott, it’s about a woman suffering from sexual addiction who has a budding friendship and casual relationship with a man who has commitment issues. Heralded for its fresh and witty dialogue, the film features cheating, hook-ups, and a lot of back and forth. But in the end, it’s a compelling love story that’s well worth the ride.
This 2013 science-fiction film was written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson (in voice only). The brilliantly written film takes a modern look at love as a lonely and depressed man named Theodore (Phoenix) falls for an artificially intelligent virtual assistant. He becomes fascinated with the assistant’s ability to learn and adapt, quickly developing an emotional “relationship” with her as a trusted confidante. While there’s less of a comedic tone to this film, it’s a great compromise for those looking for a love story beyond the norm.
Starring Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson, and Bill Nighy, this 2013 British film blends traditional rom-com themes with a sci-fi twist. The film follows Gleeson as a young man who discovers he can travel through time. In doing so, he hopes to change his past to improve his love life, taking us on a journey of his most poignant moments and deepest regrets. Also featuring Margot Robbie and Vanessa Kirby, the film is a bit sappy, but great performances and an intriguing plot carry it through for a heartwarming watch.
Always Be My Maybe
Comedian Ali Wong both wrote and stars in this 2019 film as Sasha, a woman who reunites with Marcus (Fresh Off The Boat‘s Randall Park), a childhood friend and one-time fling, when she returns to her hometown of San Francisco. There’s clear chemistry between them but Sasha has a demanding career and the timing is always off, especially when Marcus discovers Sasha’s new celebrity love interest: Keanu Reeves (yes, he’s in the movie!) Will they finally realize they’re meant for one another? The film has been almost universally liked, and praised for its ability to layer typical rom-com tropes with “smart social commentary.”
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
Following the success of the 2018 teen rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this sequel continues to tell the love story between Lara Jean and Peter, who are now a full-fledged couple. It covers all of the necessary ingredients for a teen rom-com, including all the firsts (kiss, date), the supportive friends, and the trials and tribulations of navigating a new relationship. This Netflix original has been well-received, referred to as an “amiable postscript to its predecessors, and a “swoonworthy sequel.”
This Australian film from 2017 is one of the, if not the first, Muslim rom-coms. The story follows Ali, a musically inclined young Muslim man struggling with his desire to be with one woman when he has been promised to another by his family. With an approval rating on review aggregator site RottenTomatoes of 92 percent, the film touches upon universal ideas about relationships that anyone can relate to despite the very specific and cultural setting.
Sure, this 2005 film didn’t exactly garner the best reviews. But if you’re looking to sit back with a typical rom-com, this one is about as predictable as they come. Will Smith is Alex “Hitch” Hitchens, who has made a profession out of helping men woo women. Surprise, surprise, he’s a serial dater himself who has never settled down. As he helps a client named Albert (Kevin James) build the confidence he needs to approach an attractive woman, he also finds himself falling hard for a woman (Eva Mendes.) The movie oozes the right mix of sweet and funny, with a worthwhile message of just being yourself, even if it’s presented in the most cringeworthy way. You know exactly what will happen in the end, but it still pulls you in.
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