The Rundown: 10 Underrated Romantic Movies

Our 10 underrated romantic movies
Our 10 underrated romantic movies

Everyone has been stuck trying to find the right movie for Valentine’s Day at one point or another.

Sure, catching a flick at home, cuddled up on the couch isn’t your one and only move on Hallmark’s Holiday of the Heart (at least it shouldn’t be your only move), but as a compliment to a home-cooked meal or after your night out is over, it’s a good look provided you pick the right flick.

There are safe picks that everyone has seen 10-15 times – Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail – and there are a lot of landmines you can step on too. A bad Adam Sandler choice or one of the many, many poor Ashton Kutcher offerings (basically anything other than A Lot Like Love) and your night is ruined.

And no one wants to have a great Valentine’s Day turn sour on a bad movie selection.

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

This is The Rundown.

Moonstruck (1987)

Cher has retired from music 947 times and her movie career was never really all that big, except for this little number that garnered her an Academy Award for Best Actress! You’ve got angry Sicilian-American families, an older woman/younger man situation and where the younger man is the brother of the older woman’s fiancee and the younger man is NicholasCage long before he jumped the shark. Seriously – Cher’s great andthis is a terrific movie that doesn’t get enough love.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Considered the jump off point for modern rom-coms, this is an All-Time Top 50 movie and not just because of the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene. Written by the great Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, the flick tracks the course of the relationship between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal and ultimately asks the question “Can men and women actually be friends?”

The Before Trilogy: Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013)

Three movies spread out over 18 years focused on the same two characters, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), this was Richard Linklater being hyper-creative before Waking Life (where Jesse and Celine turn up) and Boyhood, this year’s Oscar favourite. Each movie examines a different point in a relationship, the feelings and challenges that accompany those moments, and they all flow together really well.

High Fidelity (2000)

Adapted from Nick Hornby’s outstanding book of the same name (and done well, unlikethe American version of Fever Pitch), this is John Cusack at his non-Lloyd Dobler best, Jack Black at the perfect dose and an absolutely kick-ass soundtrack. It’s smart, funny, sweet and truthful – an easy-to-watch relationship movie that isn’t a Point A to Point B to Point C rom-com.

Brown Sugar (2002)

The basic premise is tried and true – life-long friends wonder if there is something more between them – but it plays out in the world of hip hop, which was a nice change instead of a standard workplace romance. There are great supporting performances from Queen Latifah and Mos Def, an opening montage of hip hop legends talking about when they fell in love with the music, and a classic grade school move that is equal parts corny and amazing that might still be part of a certain Among Men writer’s repertoire to this very day.

Just Friends (2005)

Don’t automatically dismiss this one because of your personal disdain for Ryan Reynolds. Yes, he’s made some bad choices, but there have been some good ones too and this is one of them, in part because he starts the movie in a fat suit singing “I Swear” by All-4-One. While Mr. Blake Lively is solid, the stars of this flick are the sidekicks – Anna Faris kills it as a bat-crap-crazy popstar, Chris Klein is amazing as a sleazy douche disguised as a good guy and Christopher Marquette does a terrific job as Reynolds’ annoying younger brother.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)

Based on the novel of the same name, this is Michael Cera at his awkwardly adorable best and Kat Dennings being her feisty, yet still kind of a slacker self without any of the “well that was a forced joke” elements of 2 Broke Girls. On a search for their favourite band – and Caroline – two characters that are infinitely relatable connect over music and deliver a movie that is sharp and quick that holds up over multiple viewings.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

The non-linear delivery of this film is one of the cool parts, but what really makes this work is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This was his widespread breakout performance (at least in a starring role) that led into all the cool stuff he’s done since and he’s the perfect non-traditional romantic comedy lead for both sexes because he’s good-looking and charming enough to appeal to women, but not so unbearably handsome that guys instantly hate him. Watch it, love it, thank us later.

Going the Distance (2010)

There are flaws with this flick, but Justin Long and Drew Barrymore have undeniable chemistry, Charlie Day does Charlie Day things as one of Long’s roommates, and Jim Gaffigan is married to Christina Applegate. All of those things outweigh the stumbles in this long-distance-relationship effort that is another five years away from being remade with Emma Watson and Nicholas Hoult as the leads, set in London and 25 percent better.

Enough Said (2013)

There aren’t enough grown up rom-coms, but this is one and it’s excellent. There is something easy about this film. From the outset, you know you’ve sat down to watch a quality movie. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and the late James Gandolfini are note perfect, the writing is outstanding and everything about it works. It’s funny, honest, and charming and definitely the kind of underrated gem that works on Valentine’s Day.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>