I’m always on the lookout for a good romantic comedy movie. Friends and family consistently forward me movie teasers and trailers for upcoming rom-coms. I have a collection of DVDs with a mix of classic and contemporary romantic comedies.
So it came as a surprise when I glanced through American Film Institute’s top ten romantic comedies and discovered that I disagree with their rankings.
I haven’t seen City Lights starring Charlie Chaplin, which AFI deemed the top romantic comedy. I also have no interest in seeing Harold and Maude. It’s number 9 on the list and the description I found on IMdb.com states: “Young, rich and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral.”
No, thank you.
Do these storytellers even know what makes a romantic comedy?
For example, I think Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks make a great onscreen couple. They are equally charismatic and they’re fun together. Unfortunately, they don’t interact or share the screen in Sleepless in Seattle (#10 on AFI’s list for romantic comedies). I would recommend You’ve Got Mail, instead. It’s still a Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks movie directed by Nora Ephron, but I think it has more chemistry, more conflict, and more charm.
But if I had to choose, my favorite Nora Ephron rom-com will always be When Harry Met Sally. That movie should be #1. Sorry, Tom.
And I’m not saying that every romantic comedy has to end with a happily-ever-after. I’d prefer it, but only if it makes sense. Give me a story that has a new take on romantic relationships. Tell me a story with a contemporary twist.
I’d also like something that’s funny. There are some movies on this list that I wouldn’t consider humorous as much as light-hearted. (Specifically Roman Holiday, which is inexplicably #4 on the AFI list). Extra points if you give me rapid-fire dialogue a la Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story (#5 on the list) or His Girl Friday. (He’s fantastic with both Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell!)
Which reminds me: I’ve noticed the age of the films on this list. Five of them are black and white! I love a classic as much as the next person, but the most “current” movie on that list was made in 1993! Have we forgotten about the romantic comedies of the last twenty-five years?
And what about the current movies like The Big Sick starring Kumail Nanjiani or Crazy Rich Asians with Constance Wu? Are we waiting to see if they hold up? Fine, then add Will Smith’s Hitch or Nia Vardalos’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You can’t say they don’t stand the test of time.
If the American Film Institute updates the top ten list for romantic comedies, I want them to explain what they are looking for in these classics. Something tells me that I have a very different set of requirements.