The 15 Best Romantic Comedies You Can Stream Right Now

Sarah Shatz, Lionsgate
Sarah Shatz, Lionsgate

Romantic comedies don’t always get their due. The genre is as old as cinema itself, and has been making large audiences in dimly lit rooms flush with the sweeping highs and cringe-happy awkwardness of wuv (twue wuv) for more than a century. Rom-coms been through boom times and busts. They have made progress and been problematic. They've made hearts warm and eyes roll.

It also turns out that looking for the best romantic comedies available through online services is a sign of weakness for our streaming overlords. It’s not hard to find a few dozen gems, but the severe lack of any movies made before 1980 and a more general focus on schlock over substance is enough to make you want to call your congressperson. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, it’s time to up your rom-com game.

What’s more, if you don’t see a movie you absolutely love featured here, check your streaming service again. Chances are it’s not available anymore (au revoir, Amélie). Fortunately, there’s more than enough to crush a 24-hour rom-com marathon for any particular romance-centric days that might be coming up on the calendar.

Let’s cutely meet 15 of the best. (In alphabetical order.)

1. 2 Days In New York (2012)

It’ll help if you’ve seen its predecessor, 2 Days in Paris, but it’s not necessary to enjoy the all-too-real comedy at the heart of Julie Delpy’s canny sequel. The first film explored a minefield of sexual politics with a healthy side order of fragile male ego, but the second features Chris Rock as Marion’s (Delpy) new boyfriend, a fun visit from French family, and an awkward dance around casual racism. Delpy is deft at handling third-rail comedy topics while staying grounded in what it means to be human.

Where to watch it: Hulu

2. The Big Sick (2017)

Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl break up. Girl gets sick. Boy sticks around to hang with girl’s parents in a hospital waiting room. A tale as old as time. Based on their own relationship, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s Oscar-nominated script was rightly hailed as a breath of fresh air when it hit Sundance, as it's filled with an overwhelming amount of emotion. In toying with the genre (by injecting real life), they’ve made a rom-com that begins with two young people falling in love but leads to a young man proving himself to her parents … who just happen to be played by a top-of-their-game Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.

Where to watch it: Amazon

3. Her (2013)

It’s possible that Spike Jonze’s sci-fi love story is sad. Maybe even depressing. But the ending is more sweet than bitter, and there’s way more silver lining than dark cloud if you squint. The movie features the stirring relationship between Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and an AI virtual assistant (“Alexa, do you maybe wanna go out sometime?”). Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha the AI who lives on the internet and appears at whim on Theodore’s smart device. He teaches her to love, she proves that he’s worthy of it, and they both get an operating system upgrade.

Where to watch it: Netflix

4. Hitch (2005)

Truly living his Willennium to the fullest, Will Smith starred in this slapstick throwback as a dating consultant who can’t get his own love life in order. He braved water skis and an explosive fish allergy to win Eva Mendes’s character’s heart, all while helping the schlubby good guy Albert (Kevin James) stay true to himself and win an out-of-his-league crush Allegra (Amber Valletta). Even with its modern slant (which thankfully isn’t about negging women at bars), it’s still about sweetness beating cynicism.

Where to watch it: Amazon

5. The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

There’s nothing like this odyssey through dating life in the App Era. Former The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams owns the hyper-confident, profoundly magnetic main role as a woman with ambitions in every corner of her life. Her unlikely romance with divorcee Boone (Chris O’Dowd) is predicated on refusing to obsess over their exes’ social media accounts anymore, but it blossoms into exactly the best kind of supportive, frantic affair that the genre promises.

Where to watch it: Netflix

6. Jerry Maguire (1996)

This movie completes this list. Without it, there would be a Jerry Maguire-shaped hole. The most sprawling of the modern rom-coms, Cameron Crowe’s film is over two hours of Tom Cruise playing a character trying to climb back up the mountain after jumping into the ocean. Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger) is the only one who sticks by him, setting up a fraught relationship about staying fiercely loyal and rejecting hollow status symbols. Would they have stayed together without the Tidwells’ (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Regina King) loving partnership as a guide? You tell me.

Where to watch it: Amazon

7. Kicking And Screaming (1995)

Noah Baumbach’s directorial debut is a new classic of angsty Gen X relationships. The kicking and screaming in the title refer to a group of recent graduates refusing to cut the academic umbilical cord completely as they head into the “real world.” It flashes between the meet-cute of Grover (Josh Hamilton) and Jane (Olivia d’Abo) in a college writing class and the relationship’s ultimate failure to weather a post-diploma adulthood. They’re dry and witty and compare their parents to presidents a lot. They’re also charming and unforgettable—especially if you’re constantly craving '90s nostalgia.

Where to watch it: Netflix

8. The Lobster (2015)

Yorgos Lanthimos’s absurdist dystopia is a romantic black comedy that envisions a world where you’re either with someone or you’re turned into an animal. At least you get to choose your animal. David (Colin Farrell) eventually falls for a shortsighted woman (Rachel Weisz) rebelling against the whole system, determined to remain single and living in the woods with like-minded friends. If you need tons of sugar in your rom-com, this may not be for you. But if you can laugh at the sheer horror of finding a permanent partner and the pressure society places on all of us to do so, there’s nothing funnier than this.

Where to watch it: Netflix

9. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Like an antidote to despair, this insanely popular jukebox musical features a fantastic cast that looks like they were paid to drink fruity drinks and party on a Greek island for a few months. Undoubtedly the singing and dancing were hard work. It’s the story of Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried), who invites three of her mother’s (Meryl Streep) former lovers (Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgård) to her wedding in the hopes of learning which one is her father. It’s as upbeat as snorting a line of breakfast cereal, goes big on the poppy musical numbers from ABBA, and tosses in a ton of love stories because one just isn’t enough.

Where to watch it: Netflix

10. Meet The Patels (2014)

It’s rare for a documentary to fall into this genre, but this movie is a real-life rom-com. Directed by siblings Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel, it focuses mostly on Ravi (an actor with bit parts in TV shows and movies), who—after breaking up with an American woman named Audrey—acquiesces to his parents’ wish that he find a partner through traditional, arraigned marriage. What results is a charismatic young man’s journey to discover himself by finding out what he really wants in a wife. It’s an absolutely charming movie that’s as realistic as it gets.

Where to watch it: Netflix

11. Moonstruck (1987)

This Oscar winner is all about personality. Cher won an Academy Award for playing Loretta Castorini, the widow who falls hard for her fiance’s younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage). Loretta is a slice of perfection and Ronny is a sweaty baker with a hot temper. Naturally, they look great at the opera together. Yes, it’s about falling head over heels, but it’s also about family so aggravating you’ve gotta love ‘em. It also serves as a potent reminder that Olympia Dukakis is the best.

Where to watch it: Amazon

12. Obvious Child (2014)

Tackling a topic other rom-coms are afraid to go near, Gillian Robespierre’s debut features a star-making performance by Jenny Slate as a comedian named Donna who discovers she’s pregnant and has to schedule an abortion on Valentine’s Day. Instead of hand-wringing about the choice itself, the film focuses on other elements of Donna’s life and features a grounding conversation where Donna’s mother reveals she had an abortion before giving birth to her daughter. It’s an incredibly funny movie featuring a romance that’s built on support and respect instead of mere compatibility.

Where to watch it: Netflix

13. Sabrina (1995)

It may be hard to find true classics on streaming services, but it’s slightly easier to find remakes of those classics. In this one, Sydney Pollack remade Billy Wilder’s three-way romance with Harrison Ford in the Humphrey Bogart role, Julia Ormond in the Audrey Hepburn role, and Greg Kinnear in the William Holden role. Though it's impossible to live up to the 1954 version, it’s still a delightful tale of a chauffer’s daughter enchanting two polar opposite billionaire brothers.

Where to watch it: Amazon

14. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

There’s a new(ish) series on Netflix based on it, but you can also stream Spike Lee’s raucous movie about a young woman’s battle against monogamy. Tracy Camilla Johns stars as Nola Darling, a Brooklynite having sex with three different men who can’t handle the idea that she’s having sex with three different men. Their insecurity sparks a profound change which Lee mines for depth, heartache, and laughs with his cutthroat genius. It’s an evocative masterpiece featuring one of the most revolutionary modern characters and a healthy subversion of harmful rom-com tropes.

Where to watch it: Netflix

15. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Based on Jenny Han’s wildly popular novel, Susan Johnson’s adaptation is a thoroughly modern rom-com with nods to the 1980s classics as well as a powerful reminder that, if you’re going to write love letters to all your crushes, make sure your precocious little sister doesn’t mail them. That’s exactly what happens to Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor), a shy teen trying to keep her head down while harboring strong feelings for her life-long friend Josh (Israel Broussard), who’s off-limits because he dated Lara Jean’s sister. After the letters go loose in the wild, Lara Jean agrees to fake a relationship with latter-recipient Peter (Noah Centineo) so she can pretend her feelings for Josh aren’t real and so he can win his ex-girlfriend back through jealousy. It’s a tangled web worthy of Shakespeare that’s funny, sweet, and as enriching as drinkable yogurt.

Where to watch it: Netflix

The Office Star Ellie Kemper Wants to Do a Reunion Episode

NBC - NBCUniversal Media
NBC - NBCUniversal Media

While rumors of The Office getting a reboot have been swirling around for years, the outlook on that happening any time soon doesn't look good. But a reunion episode might just be possible.

Ellie Kemper, who played Erin Hannon in the beloved series, recently stopped by Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen to dish about the sitcom and her thoughts on whether it might be making a return to the small screen: "I would love there to be a reboot, but I don't think there will be. So, that's a sad answer," Kemper admitted. "But maybe like a reunion episode? That would be fun."

E! News reports that Kemper isn’t the only cast member that wants to get the band back together. Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, also thinks a reunion episode would be a hit. “I think it's a great idea," Fischer said in 2018. "I would be honored to come back in any way that I'm able to.”

A key player in the series' success, however, is not so enthusiastic about the idea. Steve Carell, who played the infamous Michael Scott, doesn’t think a revival would be well-received. "The climate's different," Carell told Esquire back in 2018. "I mean, the whole idea of that character, Michael Scott, so much of it was predicated on inappropriate behavior. I mean, he's certainly not a model boss. A lot of what is depicted on that show is completely wrong-minded. That's the point, you know? But I just don't know how that would fly now.”

A Star Wars Connection Might Predict Jim Hopper's Future in Stranger Things

Netflix
Netflix

*Warning: This story includes spoilers for Stranger Things.*

Netflix’s Stranger Things is set in the 1980s and regularly includes references to huge cultural phenomena from that time. The series' third season made nods to Back to the Future, The NeverEnding Story, and (unsurprisingly) Star Wars. What might come as a surprise is that George Lucas's legendary space opera could hold a clue to what fate awaits one of Stranger Things's most beloved characters.

One of the major lingering questions from Stranger Things's third season is whether we will see David Harbour's character, Jim Hopper, ever again. Our favorite grumpy sheriff selflessly sacrificed himself in order to defeat the Russians and close the gate to the Upside Down. Fans were almost certain of his death (though it’s not shown on screen) until the post-credits scene rolled, in which the Russians speak of “the American” being held in their cells. Which is where things get interesting …

A new theory from Politico’s Bill Kuchman, which we spotted via Men’s Health, draws parallels between Hopper and Star Wars's Han Solo. In doing so, he might have predicted Hopper’s fate.

Kuchman explains that both Hopper and Solo use the phrase “See you in hell” before meeting their demise, with the Stranger Things character saying it in the final episode of season 3, and Solo saying it in The Empire Strikes Back.

On top of that, both characters seemingly die via a machine: Hopper is part of the key’s explosion, and Solo is frozen in carbonite. Also, at the end of the Stranger Things season 3 finale, Steve Harrington (played by Joe Keery) makes a reference to Return of the Jedi during his video store interview, the film in which Solo is revived.

Kuchman drives this point home by recalling that Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian save Solo in Return of the Jedi when Jabba the Hutt is feeding prisoners into the Sarlacc Pit. This is similar to how Stranger Things season 3 ends, with the Russians feeding prisoners to the Demogorgon.

Will Eleven, Mike, and the gang find the Force and save Hopper from the Russians? We’ll hopefully find out, if and when a fourth season of Stranger Things ever materializes.

[h/t Men's Health]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER