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The Romantic Comedy List

OK, so I’ve been delaying to write this idea that I’ve had months ago of finalizing my top 10 romantic comedy movie lists. If you know me, this is not something I take lightly. We are talking about,  my long-time favorite movie genre in my lifetime of being addicted to films. I had to think this through! However, one of the more logical reason why I haven’t finalized the list yet (well, at least before tonight) was because I haven’t seen My Sassy Girl.

I know, how could I not, right? One of the most successful romantic comedy from the romantic comedy powerhouse of South Korea. With three remakes, a multitude of pop culture referencing – Why? Let’s not get into that. Let’s just say that I just finished it a few hours ago and that has prompted me to finally complete this post.

But before I introduce THE LIST, let me first defend this movie genre that I’ve grown to love. Romantic comedy films have been loosely defined as light-hearted and humorous, and are probably at the same league as horror films when it comes to being critically-acclaimed. Honestly, I wanted to adore more serious films before. I have loved a lot of political dramas, biopics, or historical films. But nothing satisfies me more than a well-written and well-acted romantic comedy film. After reading a Roger Ebert quote, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you”, I surrendered to my heart’s desire and accepted who I really was;  a romantic-comedy junkie.

What is a romantic comedy? To me, a good (because there are really bad ones) romantic comedy film should satisfy three rules. First rule, it should be funny. It doesn’t have to be laugh out loud funny, though a well written screwball comedy can easily knock-off a witty one if done correctly. Second, the idea of romantic love should be the main plot. Third, and the most important of all, there should be a struggle: to be in love, to stay in love, or to run away from love, and this is where the heart of the comedy should lie. Nora Ephron once noted that romantic comedies could be, in a way, divided into two categories. The first category, a derivative of the Woody Allen genre, involves the struggle of characters with themselves which prevents romantic love to do its bidding. The other category, is when the external factors: incidences, environment, fate, friends, family, everything else – hinders the main characters’ ever afters. Does it always have to end happily? Not really. But if it makes you feel warm, fuzzy, or absolutely tormented inside, then it has done its job.

Presented below is my top 10 romantic comedy list. Yes, it is in order. I’ll try to describe those that may need them, but I’m sure most of these films are well known. No, Bridget Jones is not on my list. It’s a nice film, so is My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but they’re not on  THE LIST.

#10. YPF (2007)
YPF (Young People Fucking) from Canada succeeds where Love Actually from UK and the disastrous Valentine’s Day from the US failed by seamlessly intertwining several love stories of different characters in one great narrative. YPF is a story of five stories, all about couples, representing different romantic archetypes. How the story tells it self is reminiscent of Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. If that doesn’t make you curious enough to find this movie, I have a feeling the title in itself will.

#9. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

No need to discuss the film, very well known and probably well loved by most romantic films junkie. Why it’s in my list – other than it being a British comedy – lovable ensemble! Of course you feel for the main characters and how they eventually end up having their happy ever after without a procession in a white gown. But it was the supporting characters, how you get to know them as the story progresses, that made the viewer root for the main characters more. Also the success of the story line in this film did not only pave the way for young Hugh Grant but for British comedy of like-plots into my generation’s mainstream worldwide audience .

#8. Waitress (2007)

This jewel of a film, starring Kerri Russel, somehow found its way to incorporate southern lifestyle, adultery, romantic love, motherhood, and fabulous pies into one great big bite. This film has one of the most wonderful endings I’ve seen in romantic comedies. This is a bit uncanny since its fabulous director and writer, who also plays a female supporting role, died tragically before even seeing its release. A bit sad, yes. It would have been great if there were more chances to see films from her.

#7. Amelie (2001)

Of course Amelie is on my list, why wouldn’t it be! It’s quirky, funny, magical, and French. The mystery aspect of the plot, its idyllic essence, as well as the stand out cinematography is what I (and everyone else in the movie-seeing world) loved about Amelie. A sure classic for my generation, not watching this may actually constitute as a sin.

#6. Say Anything (1989)

I desperately wanted to include a John Hughes film, and I am still debating with myself as I place a Cameron Crowe film in the #6 spot. But “to know Lloyd Dobler is to love him”. Never, has there been a film, with such a wonderful and absolutely amazing male romantic lead. Any romantically challenged girl will wish for a Lloyd Dobbler to fall in love with her after seeing this one. The best John Cusack film for me, but of course High Fidelity is a close second.

#5. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Rob Reiner (director) plus Nora Ephron (writer) plus screen giants Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, are the main reasons why this film is phenomenal. Talents like these, when they come together, is unforgettable. Everyone seem to have a strong opinion on what this film is about for the simple reason that it is about a lot of things. It’s like one of those reflecting mirrors one often stumbles into when watching a film. Why I loved it: because it seems real – probably the most realistic of all the romantic comedy films in this list.

#4. Annie Hall (1977)

Has always been in my #3 spot, now bumped off to #4. The reasons why it’s on my list: (1) out of respect to the genius of Woody Allen, (2) my 2nd favorite female romantic lead character, probably the 1st for most critics, (3) Allen’s Alvy Singer is the epitome of the psychology of the modern man – and in my opinion, is the grandfather of all Nick Hornby male characters.

#3 My Sassy Girl (2001)

Yes, the reason for this long blog post and sleeping until 2am to finish it. There are a number of elements to love about My Sassy Girl, a Korean romantic comedy about a girl who wants to fall in love but is already desperately in love. Watching this, which bumped off Annie Hall and other Woody Allen films off my list, and seeing how charming, emotionally truthful and utterly magical romantic love can be portrayed in film made me realize that this is how romantic comedies should be enjoyed. Without too much thought, with a lot of imagination, and a hearty laugh. Delusive, yet pragmatic – a combination Korean romantic comedies have perfected with much repeated success.

#2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
How writer and genius, Charlie Kaufman, re-constructed romantic comedies with a touch of science fiction is an idea that will never cease to amaze me. Everybody has seen the film, most wants to love it but only a few really do. After seeing Kauffman’s “Being John Malcovich”, I seriously thought he won’t be able to top that, and then he wrote this, and recently made Synecdoche: New York. What I loved most about this film, other than the re-construction (which always reminds me of molecular gastronomy) – the ending. How Joel and Clementine, in her blue hair, still ends up falling in love despite everything else that has happened in between.

#1. Before Sunset (2004)
Completely biased and ridiculous, I know. Is it even a romantic comedy? Or maybe I can’t just help myself and I always automatically place this film in the #1 spot as often as I possibly can. It is a romantic comedy, because in the ten thousand times that I have seen this film, there was always a fixed smile in my face. Why I love it? Let me count the ways? I know I’m probably spoiling my top ten lists by ending it with this one, but hey – that’s just how it is. THE LIST is MY LIST anyway.  Also, Julia Delphy’s character “Celine” is who I want to be if my life was a romantic comedy. I guess that explains a lot.

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  1. Anonymous
    April 11, 2010 at 8:29 am

    applause!!! i like =P will find said movies =P

  2. Jenny Abengana
    April 11, 2010 at 8:30 am

    that was me above

    • April 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

      hehe thanks jenny. kailangan ko din panooring korean films you’ve recco. but when! hay sched, sana bum nalang ulit ako hehehe

  3. Ian
    April 12, 2010 at 5:55 am

    hmm you didn’t like Love Actually? it was recommended to me by 3 different girls lol. i will watch it later tonight.

  4. April 12, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I like LOVE ACTUALLY! if i’m feeling a bit low i watch my dvd copy and i’m smiling again. hindi lang sya top 10 worthy but it’s a decent movie.

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