Robert McLiam Wilson opens his novel Eureka Street with the line, “All stories are love stories.” And, for the most part, it’s true. From timeless tales like Romeo and Juliet to wild and wacky ones like Ratatouille, you can find a kernel of romance in almost any story.
But, when it’s time to sit down and pick a film, you might not fancy a tear-jerking love story or an epic romance. Instead, you might want to watch something that’s not only full of heart, but will make you laugh as well. And when this mood strikes you, there’s only one place to turn: the romantic comedy.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 16 feel-good romantic comedies, to give you some inspiration for your next film night.
1. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
In 1977, Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) gives fellow college graduate Harry Burns (Billy Crystal), who she’s just met, a ride from Chicago to New York.
The two don’t exactly get off to a great start, especially after Harry tells her that “Men and women can’t be friends because sex always gets in the way.” And when they reach the Big Apple, they go their separate ways.
However, the film follows Harry and Sally over the years as a friendship forms between them and, eventually, they have to confront the feelings they have for one another.
When Harry Met Sally is a heartwarming and hilarious flick that’s jam-packed with quotable one-liners.
2. About Time (2013)
When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), an awkward and unlucky-in-love young man turns 21, his father (Bill Nighy) tells him that he, like all the men in his family, has the strange ability to travel through time. And when he falls in love with Mary (Rachel McAdams), Tim uses his strange ability to win her affection.
But, as his relationship with Mary develops and they start to build a family of their own, Tim discovers that even with his unique gift, he and the people around him aren’t immune to the inevitability of time.
This story of love and family from the creator of Love Actually and Notting Hill puts an interesting supernatural spin on the classic rom-com formula.
3. Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), a New York businessman with a tendency to date much younger women, accompanies his newest beau Marin (Amanda Peet) to her family’s beach house in the Hamptons. Yet, upon arriving, the couple finds out that Marin’s mother, Erica (Diane Keaton), has also planned a seaside getaway of her own at the house.
After suffering a heart attack, Harry is ordered by his doctor (Keanu Reaves) to remain at the beach house on bed rest and he finds himself staying alone with Erica. Initially, they don’t get along, but Harry and Erica have to navigate the complications of their situation when they find themselves falling for one another.
Written and directed by rom-com veteran Nancy Meyers, Something’s Gotta Give is a story about how it’s never too late to find love.
4. Love, Simon (2018)
Love, Simon tells the story of Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), an average high school student who’s not yet worked out how to tell his friends and family that he’s gay. But when he’s blackmailed by another student into being outed against his will, Simon begins to find himself in a sticky situation.
This is all complicated by his anonymous online correspondence with another closeted kid at his school – someone calling themselves ‘Blue’.
Although it tackles some pretty serious and important themes, like casual homophobia and the difficulties facing young LGBTQ+ people, this coming-of-age story proves to be funny and sweet in equal measure.
5. The Big Sick (2017)
When stand-up comedian Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) and Chicago graduate-student Emily (Zoe Kazan) fall in love, their relationship is tested, to say the least.
Not only is Kumail forced to hide their relationship from his traditional Muslim parents but after only a few weeks of dating, Emily contracts a mysterious illness and is placed in a medically-induced coma.
This might not seem like everyone’s idea of a feel-good film. However, thanks to an ensemble of amazing performances and its Oscar-nominated script, The Big Sick confronts heavy and poignant themes with a healthy serving of laughs and heartwarming vibes.
Written by real-life couple Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (who also stars in the film), and loosely based on their own courtship, this 2017 rom-com is a perfect choice if you’re in the mood for a good dose of romance.
6. Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Hepburn stars as a suffocated princess who escapes her royal duties touring Europe for a night of freedom in Italy’s capital.
But when she falls asleep on a park bench, she’s taken in by a tenacious reporter (Gregory Peck), who’s determined to use his good fortune to score a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive interview. Then, in typical rom-com fashion, his developing feelings for her throw a spanner into the works.
Roman Holiday is a cherished favourite among lovers of classic cinema and still serves as part of the DNA of romantic comedies to this day.
7. The Princess Bride (1987)
Sometimes, what we wanted from a film is for it to whisk us away from the humdrum of normal life and into a world of fantasy and adventure. So, if you’re looking for a rom-com that’s not too rooted in reality, why not consider 1987’s The Princess Bride?
In The Princess Bride, a grandfather (Peter Falk) tells his grandson (Fred Savage) the story of Westley (Carey Elwes) – a farmhand who sets off on a swashbuckling journey in the name of true love.
This hilariously camp adventure has become a cult classic over the years, thanks to its colourful cast of characters and witty, tongue-in-cheek humour.
8. Coming to America (1988)
When Akeem (Eddie Murphy), a spoilt African prince, turns 21, he forgoes tradition and refuses the blind marriage that’s been arranged for him by his father. Instead, he and his trusted valet (Arsenio Hall) take off to America in search of true love.
Once he arrives in New York, Prince Akeem goes undercover, posing as an exchange student, in order to find a woman that loves him for who he is and not his title.
This laugh-out-loud flick is a perfect fish-out-of-water comedy and one of the films that helped cement Eddie Murphy as one of comedy’s all-time greats. Coming to America has remained so popular over the decades that the sequel was made over 30 years later!
9. Notting Hill (1999)
A firm favourite among lovers of romantic comedies, especially here in the UK, Notting Hill tells the story of an awkward but somewhat charming bookshop owner (Hugh Grant) who, through a serendipitous twist of fate, becomes involved with Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) – the world’s most famous film star.
From Richard Curtis, the creator of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, and About Time, this is a feel-good story of unlikely love set against the endearing backdrop of the titular West London neighbourhood.
10. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
When Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an American-born Chinese university professor living in New York accompanies her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) to Singapore for his friend’s wedding, she’s surprised to find out that his family are incredibly rich.
Upon arrival, Rachel finds herself thrust into a world of splendour and opulence, having to navigate jealous socialites jostling for Nick’s attention, as well as his disapproving family.
Crazy Rich Asians was considered a landmark production with respect to the representation of South-West Asian people and their culture in the romantic comedy world. It was also very well received by critics and audiences alike thanks to its witty script and excellent cast.
11. Pretty in Pink (1986)
From Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to The Breakfast Club, John Hughes sure knows how to make a feel-good film that’s got some staying power, and 1986’s Pretty in Pink is no different.
Set in a Chicago high school with a rigid social strata, Andie (Molly Ringwald) a somewhat unpopular girl from a working-class family becomes romantically involved with Blane (Andrew McCarthy) – a wealthy kid at the top of the teenage hierarchy.
If you’re a lover of classic romantic comedies, you can’t really go wrong with Pretty in Pink for your next movie night.
12. The Proposal (2009)
When a cruel and stony New York book editor (Sandra Bullock) is threatened with deportation after her visa expires, she concocts a scheme to stay in the States, which involves a sham marriage with her long-suffering assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds).
Spotting an opportunity for a promotion, Andrew agrees – but first, the couple must fly out to the boonies of Alaska so that she can meet his family.
Buoyed by its excellent comic performances from Bullock, Reynolds, and the late, great Betty White, The Proposal is an entertaining story about what can happen if you just give someone a chance.
13. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
One Christmas Eve after Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) loses his wife, his son (Ross Malinger) phones into a radio talk show to find his father a new partner.
After being roped into speaking about his marriage, Sam opens up on national radio about how special his relationship was and captures the hearts of women all across the country. One of these lovestruck women, Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), writes to Sam and proposes that they meet at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
Sleepless in Seattle is a heartwarming tale of grief, love, and the power of family.
14. Pretty Woman (1990)
To keep up appearances on a business trip to Los Angeles, a ruthless corporate raider (Richard Gere) hires a young prostitute (Julia Roberts) to be his escort for the week at various social gatherings.
As they spend the week together, they both begin to realise that there’s more to each other than they first thought, and classic rom-com hijinks ensue.
Pretty Woman was somewhat of a breakout role for Julia Roberts, helping her to become not only a mainstay of the romantic comedy genre in the 90s, but one of the most beloved and respected actresses of all time.
15. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Another one for classic cinema enthusiasts, this screwball comedy played a big part in the evolution of the romantic film genre.
The flick follows palaeontologist David Huxley, played by Cary Grant, who’s trying to secure a one million dollar donation to his museum from the wealthy Elizabeth Random (Mary Robson). Huxley’s stress is only added to by his upcoming marriage.
However, things spiral quickly into chaos when he meets Random’s niece – the charming, free-spirited, and a little ditzy Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn).
16. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
The 90s were a fantastic time for British romantic comedies, in large part thanks to Hugh Grant and screenwriter/director Richard Curtis, who’ve both already featured on this list. And their first collaboration, Four Weddings and a Funeral, is certainly one of their finest.
The film follows Charlie (Grant), a steadfast bachelor, over the course of – you guessed it – four weddings and a funeral. At the first of these festivities, Charlie meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell), a beautiful but elusive America who challenges his notions of love and commitment.
As well as Charlie and Carrie, Four Weddings and a Funeral introduces us to Charlie’s eclectic bunch of friends – like the larger-than-life Gareth (Simon Callow) and the snarky Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas. It’s as much a film about the enduring bonds of friendship as it is about romance.
For something a little different...
Sometimes we aren’t in the mood for a rom-com – maybe you’ve recently gone through a breakup and are feeling a little disillusioned about love, or perhaps romance stories aren’t really your thing. But if you’re in the mood for a feel-good, funny film, why not check out Barbie?
Barbie tells the story of the iconic doll (Margot Robbie) as she’s forced to leave Barbieland after an existential crisis. Finding herself in the real world, she discovers some important truths about herself and women in general.
Unlike many rom-coms, Barbie teaches us that we need to strive to love ourselves before anything (or anyone) else. A feminist film that’s equal parts powerful and hilarious, Barbie is in cinemas now.
From rom-com classics like When Harry Met Sally and new genre staples like Crazy Rich Asians, all the way to wacky adventures like The Princess Bride and Coming to America, we hope that this list has given you some inspiration for what to watch when you’re in the mood for some romance.
For more film and television content, why not head over to the art and culture section of our website? Here, you’ll find articles like 15 of the best feel-good films to curl up with and 18 movies everyone should see.
Did your favourite feel-good romantic film make the list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.