Valentine’s watchlist


Photo courtesy of @isntirromantic on Instagram.

Starring Rebel Wilson, “Isn’t It Romantic” is a satirical take on the overplayed cliches of romantic comedies.

By Ela Jalil and Olivia Yasharoff

As Valentine’s Day approaches, avid rom-com fans face the annual struggle of choosing what to watch on the holiday of love. Faithful viewers know the common cliches of the genre well: from running through the airport to confess feelings to doing a makeover that consists of simply removing glasses, this list of 25 movies from varying popular tropes has something for everyone – single and paired up people alike.

Friends to Lovers:

Enemies to lovers, strangers to lovers, academic rivals to lovers: These are all popular routes for two fictional characters to fall in love. The arguably best path, however, is friends to lovers. Although it can end in heartbreak or unrequited love, starting out as friends results in some of the best couples in media.

“Always Be My Maybe” (2019)

This Netflix original centers Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park), childhood friends who reunite after a 15-year period of not talking to each other. They find that they now lead opposite lives but still hold unresolved feelings for each other.

“Love, Rosie” (2014)

A tale of right person, wrong time, this movie observes friends Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin) in a will-they-won’t-they relationship with obstacles of distance and other romantic interests keeping them from each other.

“Set It Up” (2018)

Coworkers Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) work together to make their demanding bosses fall in love, like a modern-day “Parent Trap” in the workplace, but find themselves falling for each other.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018)

The first of the trilogy, the story expertly combines a fake dating trope with friends to lovers. As Laura Jean’s (Lana Condor) fake relationship with Peter (Noah Centineo) progresses, she is forced to ask herself whether her feelings are fake too.

“When Harry Met Sally” (1989)

Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) evolve their relationship through years of incidental encounters. 

Time Travel:

The intersection of science fiction and romantic comedies is where some of the most charming stories reside. Characters traveling through time but always finding their way back to the love interest is a rewarding and heartwarming trope.

“13 Going On 30” (2004) 

When 13-year-old Jenna (Jennifer Garner) wakes up as a 30-year-old woman, she finds her way back to childhood friend Matt (Mark Ruffalo) and restores their relationship both in the past and in the future.

“About Time” (2013) 

Providing an introspective outlook on how to find the joy in every day, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers he has inherited the power to travel through time and sets out to use it to get a girlfriend.

“Palm Springs” (2020)

Taking a more comedic approach, “Palm Springs” follows Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti), strangers who are trapped in a “Groundhog Day”-esque timeline, where they relive the same day together. 

“Enchanted” (2007) 

Giselle (Amy Adams) travels through time and realms to find her one true love, who turns out to be the last person she would expect. 

“Om Shanti Om” (2007)

Set in 1970s Bollywood, an aspiring film extra Om (Shah Rukh Khan) falls in love with a famous actress Shanti (Deepika Padakone), but her producer-husband Mukesh (Arjun Rampal) stands in the way of their love. After being mysteriously murdered and reincarnated into present day, Om searches for Shanti, as even death is unable to tear them apart. 

Multiple Storylines:

Why enjoy only one love story when you can watch multiple couples fall in love simultaneously? This fast paced trope was made popular by the beloved “Love Actually,” and it is always entertaining to figure out the thread that ties all of the characters together. 

“How to be Single” (2016)

Centered around Alice (Dakota Johnson), who finds herself on a journey of self-discovery in New York City, as she has just gotten out of the long-term relationship she had been in since college. Helping her navigate through her newfound singledom is her wild friend Robin (Rebel Wilson), the friendly playboy bartender Tom (Anders Holm), and her pregnant sister Meg (Leslie Mann) – all who are facing romantic problems of their own. 

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” (2011)

Reeling from the news that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) has been having an affair and wants a divorce, Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) seeks guidance from Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a serial dater, who teaches him how to be successful in his dating life.

“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005)

Four best friends who have been together since birth find a pair of pants that magically fit all of them. During times of romance and heartbreak, the pants connect the girls during their first summer apart.

“He’s Just Not That Into You” (2009)

“He’s Just Not That Into You” follows multiple different couples at different stages of their relationships, including Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Alex (Justin Long), who fall in and out of love as they try to figure out what they really want in life. 

“The Holiday” (2006)

As the title suggests, “The Holiday” takes place during Christmas and follows two women: Iris (Kate Winslet) from England and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) from L.A. Both women are in need of a change and a man that will treat them right, leading to them switching homes for the break.

Based off of Literature:

Classical literature has brought some of the greatest love stories of all time to audiences and seeing these stories adapted to the big screen creates an entirely new experience for viewers. Whether it be a modern interpretation or set in classical times, romance movies inspired by books or plays always hit the mark. 

“Clueless” (1995) and “Emma.” (2020)

Despite being set in different time periods, these two movies are both amazing adaptations of Jane Austen’s book “Emma” and follow the story of a young woman whose overconfidence in her matchmaking skills results in multiple misunderstandings.

“10 Things I Hate About You” (1999)

Following the date on a dare trope but resulting in both parties falling in love for real, “10 Things I Hate About You” is a modern interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of The Shrew.”

“Easy A” (2010)

Inspired by “The Scarlet Letter,” this comedic movie calls out sexist double standards after Olive (Emma Stone) is socially-shunned following a false rumor about her spreading around the school. 

“Pride and Prejudice” (2005)

Based on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” this movie features the beginnings of the enemies to lovers trope. Intelligent and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet (Kiera Knightley) is pitted against wealthy and aloof Mr. Darcy (Matthew McFayden) in a test of wills that initially threatens to tear them apart. 

“The Princess Bride” (1987)

This movie starts with a grandpa reading an adventure story to his sick grandson. The book he reads aloud centers around Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Wesley (Cary Elwes) who fight to stay together despite all of the forces pulling them apart. 

Anti Rom-Coms:

Romantic comedies can feel formulaic at times, with the perfect love story being depicted over and over again with the same overdone tropes. Satirical movies act as the perfect escape from this, and are perfect for the viewer that wants to focus more on the comedy aspect of a rom-com.  

“Isn’t It Romantic” (2019)

At a young age, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) gained a cynicism around romantic comedies as she felt that it could never center around her, and finds herself constantly overlooked in every aspect of her life. To her horror, she finds herself stuck in a romantic comedy with the only chance of escaping is to have someone fall in love with her. 

“Muriel’s Wedding” (1994)

Socially awkward Muriel (Toni Collette) has one goal in her life: to have a glamorous wedding that takes her away from her dull life in her small town. Determined to follow her dreams, she steals money from her father and begins to create a new life for herself with her new friend Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths) in Sydney.

“They Came Together” (2014)

Molly (Amy Poehler) owns a small candy shop that is threatened by the corporation that Joel (Paul Rudd) works for. These diametrically-opposed romantic interests work their way through almost every romantic comedy cliche in the book, as they narrate their love story to their friends. 

“John Tucker Must Die” (2006)

When three popular high schoolers from different cliques find out they have all been dating the same guy, they recruit newcomer Kate (Brittany Snow) to help carry out their revenge.

“Not Another Teen Movie” (2001)

Parodying popular 90s teen movies, “Not Another Teen Movie” focuses on Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh), a social outcast who not only wears glasses and a ponytail, but also paint covered overalls. After making a bet with his friends, Jake Wyler (Chris Evans) takes on the herculean task of turning her into a prom queen.