How many times have you watched a romantic comedy and thought to yourself wow, my relationship is not like that at all. Maybe that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s not often that we find films to be on par with our loves lives. The overly perfect dates, the mind blowing sex, and the always guaranteed meet cute that introduces the couple in the most dramatic, one-in-a-million sort of way. It just seems… sadly unrealistic.
On the flip side, there’s also the rare movie that hits the nail on the head and showcases life, in a way that is realistic and in a way in which we can somewhat identify. Either way, I know I have thought that some movies went way over the top and unrealistic while others try their best to be relatable and funny so we can laugh and nod our heads.
Romantic comedies are staples in the film industry and as a lover of film itself, and especially this genre, I took a look and picked some of the top most realistic and most unrealistic Rom Coms of all time – the ones you need to watch (or re-watch) but prepare for a few spoiler alerts in this list. Here is the list of realistic and unrealistic romantic comedies that are a must-watch:
Realistic: 500 Days of Summer (2009)
After they start to date, even though Summer refuses to call it dating, Tom falls head over heels while she tries her best to reciprocate his enthusiasm. What ensues is a very fun nonlinear ride watching Joseph Gordon Levitt be so darn likeable and Zooey Deschanel be so darn cute. We can’t help but have fun and recall one of our over eager friends who fully believes in fate and soul mates. Or maybe it’s even ourselves. Either way, this one gives you food for thought on fate, love, chance, and unrequited love.
Unrealistic: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Meg Ryan’s character falls in love with Hanks’ character only by hearing his voice on the radio. Then his son, who is definitely unrealistically smart, orchestrates the perfect plant to get them together. This takes us to the famous scene where they meet on the roof of the Empire State Building. Well I’ve been to the Empire State Building. In the movie, they are up there in seconds and the only ones there. In reality, you’d never be the only ones up there. After hours in a line up, you would make it to the top and hardly be able to see the view because of how crowded it is with tourists all the time.
Realistic: Pretty in Pink (1986)
You have to put a John Hughes movie somewhere on this list. Since Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club are too unrealistic, I naturally chose Pretty in Pink as a realistic pick. Why? Because Molly Ringwald’s character might be one of the most honest and real characters Hughes ever wrote. The weird guy (very young Jon Cryer) likes her, and she likes the not so nice guy (very young James Spader); a situation so many high schoolers find themselves in. What makes Pink more relatable than Sixteen Candles is no one is perfect in this movie. Everyone makes the wrong choice sometimes, even the guy we want Molly to get together with.
Unrealistic: Love Actually (2003)
Love Actually follows eight different stories surrounding Christmas and romance. It’s actually quite funny and adorable, but very contrived – not to mention Sappy. There are no stakes or complications, just lots of people in love during the holidays. If only in reality relationships were that adorable and sappy. Nothing is wrong with a movie like this, though. Sometimes movies like these are a treat; pure escapism where we can smile and watch as they fall in love. There are a few relatable moments and it’s all in all a good movie, it’s just that it’s sweeter than a candy cane.
Realistic: The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
It’s refreshing to know that there are people out there who lack carnal knowledge. Steve Carell is hilarious in this role as a 40-year-old man who has never had sex, and doesn’t know how to tell his girlfriend. Once his secret gets out to his technology store buddies, they each take on the duty to try and take him out and bed a lady. As it turns out, it’s his friends who have the relationship problems as he finds himself falling for and beginning a relationship with a single mother.
The relationship problems in this movie are all quite relatable. As far as the 40-year-old virgin’s story; we’ve all had embarrassing secrets to tell our partner; probably even sexually embarrassing secrets. Watching Carell trying to simultaneously obtain and avoid the subject results in ultimate hilarity – and his awkward moments are surprisingly relatable.
Unrealistic: The Proposal (2009)
I think in general everyone just loves this movie because of Betty White. She’s awesome. The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, however, is not so awesome. A hotheaded boss forces her secretary to marry her so she can stay in the country and not get deported when her visa runs out. The funny thing is she’ll go back to Canada, which in my mind isn’t that bad. It’s hard to get behind Reynold’s character because he hates her and he really stands nothing to lose at all. Watching a couple with zero chemistry get together and fall in love, especially under such odd circumstances, is way too unrealistic for me. It was nice, however, to see a male secretary potrayed for once.
Realistic: You’ve Got Mail (1998)
The whole e-mail thing might not be as relevant as it was fifteen years ago, but now the idea of meeting someone online has never been more current! In Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s 3rd film together, we find them playing book store owner rivals who fall in love over the internet. People fall in love on the internet every day. Who’s to say that person isn’t your enemy? Now that’s serendipitous. Even though this isn’t Hanks and Ryan’s best movie, it’s a must see for all fans and internet lovers. You’ll especially get a kick out of nineties computers!
Unrealistic: Serendipity (2001)
This movie lines up that perfect one-in-one-million meet-cute between the characters Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale). It’s perfect and sadly unrealistic: The two feel instant chemistry when they first meet by reaching for the same pair of gloves at Bloomingdale’s, and even run into each other again later. They go ice skating together, though neither of them is single – but they do feel a strange chemistry. To test fate, Sara writes her full name and phone number inside a book, and tells Jonathan that she will give the book to one of the countless used book stores in New York. If they are meant to be together, she says he is bound to find the book with her number in it.
I won’t give away the ending, but unfortunately, in real life it is incredibly rare to see someone go to such great lengths to be with someone. In 2014, Jonathan wouldn’t search every used book store in New York to find the book Sara wrote her number in. Now that social media exists, he’d probably just find her on Facebook instead! Great romances like these simply aren’t that realistic anymore, expecially with the advances in technology.
Realistic: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Jason Segal’s character is very relatable in this movie as he can’t get over the fact his girlfriend dumped him. When he goes on a trip to Hawaii to get over her, things get a lot harder when he finds her there with her new boyfriend. Even though running into his ex in Hawaii is not relatable, what Segal’s character goes through after being dumped is extremely relatable. Trust me, if you’ve just been dumped, watch this movie to instantly feel better.
Unrealistic: P.S. I Love You (2007)
It’s really too bad that this movie is not something that would ever happen in real life. We can relate to getting over the loss of a loved one. The unrealistic part is the extremely thoughtful scavenger hunt around Europe set up by the dying man to take place after he has passed. Now, I do believe we do all go on a journey of some kind after a death of a loved one, but this movie has Hilary Swank finding notes in cake and all over Ireland to remember all the good times they had together. Okay, I’m starting to cry all over my keyboard just thinking about how sweet that is, but will that ever happen to any of us? No, unless I start planning right now.
Realistic: When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Taking the whole men and woman can’t be friends notion to a whole new level, Harry and Sally are delightful and hilarious, and what I think to be downright relatable. These are two people who don’t know what they want. They go through bad relationships, break ups, depression, and friendship after hating and eventually loving each other. But they never act on this – not for the first three quarters of the movie. The film takes its time to build the relationship up and let the characters get to know each other and grow on each other. If you love Romantic Comedies, this is the grandfather of all Romantic Comedies. It is a must see.