13 Underrated Rom Coms You Should Add to Your Watchlist

It’s Saturday night and you’re bored, alone, wanting to find something that will make you laugh and believe in love again. You cycle through your go-to movie collection, but you’re not really feeling Matthew McConaughey’s wicked grin and you’re not in the mood to see Heath Ledger sing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” for the millionth time. If this sounds like you, here’s a list of some lesser-known romantic comedies that will give you all the same nostalgic vibes and heart-melting moments as your well-loved faves. 

 

  1. 1. Definitely, Maybe

    Released in 2008, Adam Brooks’s witty and playful film Definitely, Maybe is the quintessential family-oriented rom com. This movie is propelled by its unique style of storytelling as it follows a father Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) as he is coping with the messiness of his impending divorce. When his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) first attends sex ed class, she finds herself questioning many things in her life, including how her parents met. Told in flashbacks in the form of a bed-time story, Will recounts his past experiences of love with one catch: he’s changed all of the names, meaning Maya has to guess which love interest in this story is actually her mother. This film is both heartwarming and heartbreaking as it navigates through the difficulties and simplicities of romance and showcases the under-represented device of the father-daughter relationship. If this wasn’t enough to sell you, its star-studded line-up also includes Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks and Kevin Kline.

  2. 2. No Reservations

    Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin, this 2007 film highlights the stressful life of Kate Armstrong (Zeta-Jones), a head chef of a restaurant in New York’s West Village as she juggles the responsibilities of her job and the recent death of her sister. After her sister falls victim to a car crash, Kate has no choice but to take in her niece Zoe (Breslin). In the midst of all the chaos, Kate is informed by her boss that they will be hiring new help for the restaurant in the form of one sous chef, Nick Palmer (Eckhart). Kate’s whole ecosystem is thrown off when as her tight-ship kitchen is threatened by Nick’s easy-going nature and his ability to make the rest of the staff laugh. Though unlikely to see eye-to-eye, the two form a fiery romance as Nick begins to soften Kate’s edges, making his way into both her heart and Zoe’s. For fans of quick quips and The Food Network, this one’s for you. 

  3. 3. Penelope

    If you’re into something more light-hearted and whimsical, look no further. This 2006 British-American fantasy rom com directed by Mark Palansky centers around the life of Penelope (Christina Ricci), a young girl forced into hiding because of her family’s secret. As the aftermath of torrid love affair and a scorned mother, the Wilhern family is cursed. They are told that their next daughter will be born with the face of a pig. The curse is actualized when they give birth to their daughter Penelope, who does in fact have a pig nose. Kept from the public eye, Penelope is forced to a life within the confines of her parents’ house for fear that her oddity will be put on display. However, when Penelope turns 18, her parents see a possibility of reversing the curse in finding Penelope’s true love. They begin to invite suitors of noble birth to their home, and each one leaves screaming when he learns of Penelope’s condition, that is, until 7 years later when a man is hired by the press to uncover Penelope’s secret. Starring James McAvoy, Catherine O’Hara, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant and Reese Witherspoon, this twist on the classic princess story is sure to delight. 

  4. 4. Stuck In Love

    Focussing strongly on the dysfunctional family dynamic, Stuck In Love is a film that follows members of of the Borgens family as they navigate their own personal journeys and love relationships. Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) is hung up on his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) who left him two years prior, but still won’t admit that he needs to move on. As a washed up writer, he feel stagnant now that his one source of inspiration is gone and copes with it in several unhealthy ways: drinking, stalking and cheating. His daughter, Sam, (Lily Collins) has always been a cynic when it comes to love, but after meeting an eager and persistent young man (Logan Lerman) from her writer’s workshop, she begins to re-evaluate while still struggling with the childhood traumas she experienced surrounding her parents’ divorce. Her brother, Rusty (Nat Wolff), has gone most of his high school years with little experience when he catches sight of a girl (Liana Libarato) he believes is a walking angel. Through his relationship with her, he begins to see the unexpected imperfections and tragedies of love. These three stories tie together to form a beautiful arc about healing both individually and as a family unit. 

  5. 5. The Way He Looks

    This Brazilian coming-of-age film follows high school student Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) in his search for independence and meaning. Though he dreams of studying abroad and living on his own, he is limited by the fact that he is blind, something that his parents are very over-protective about. Leonardo feels as though each moment of his life is being micromanaged by the people around him, that is until new student Gabriel (Fabio Audi) partners with him on a school project and lets him experience things from a new perspective. As Leo gets closer to his new friend Gabriel, he distances himself from the other people in his life, including his best friend Giovanna (Tess Amorim), causing tension in his relationships. This movie highlights the innocence as well as the complexity of youth on Leo’s journey of self-actualization and revelation.

  6. 6. Life As We Know It

    Starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, Life as We Know It is a romantic comedy/drama about Holly Berensen (Heigl), a bakery owner, and Eric Messer (Duhamel), a technical sports director, whose hatred for each other began after being set up by mutual friends on a blind date gone wrong. After a tragic accident, their friends Peter (Hayes MacArthur) and Allison (Christina Hendricks) are killed, leaving their one-year-old daughter Sophie an orphan. To their shock and horror, Holly and Eric find that they were both named as Sophie’s joint guardians, meaning they have to raise this child together. Despite their disdain for one another, they decide to do what is best for Sophie and move into Peter and Allison’s old house together to co-parent Sophie. Along the way, they realize that perhaps their differences are not so big and are in fact, complementary. For those that enjoy slow-burn hate-to-love stories, this is your perfect movie.

  7. 7. Saving Face

    If you enjoy movies about complicated mother-daughter relationships, Alice Wu’s Saving Face really packs a punch. Following young surgeon Wil (Michelle Krusiec), this story highlights the pressures of a Chinese-American daughter to be successful and to marry well. Wil is not interested in men, but to her mother and the other adults in her life, she appears as the perfect bachelorette. In an attempt to secure her daughter with a financially-stable partner, Wil’s mother Gao (Joan Chen) decides to set her up at a party with the son of a friend. While at the party, Wil encounters Vivian (Lynn Chen), a young woman struggling with her parents’ divorce and her father’s disapproval of her career in modern dance. Bonding over family struggles, Wil and Vivian begin to develop a relationship beyond that of just friends. All the while, Wil finds out that her mother has been kicked out by her grandfather for being pregnant out of wed-lock, forcing Wil to take her mother in. This movie expertly showcases the struggle of identity and the fear of being queer in a traditional family. 

  8. 8. Stardust 

    Based on the 1999 novel by Neil Gaiman, Stardust is brought to life by its spectacular ensemble cast consisting of Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro, with narration by Ian McKellen. The story is centered around Tristan (Charlie Cox), a young boy who is infatuated with a girl from his hometown named Victoria (Sienna Miller). He believes that he can win her heart by bringing her back a fallen star. Much to his surprise, on his quest he discovers that this star is not just a hot, glittery rock, but a young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). Tristan must decide between his ethical compass and his love for the girl back home, all the while being hunted by witches and princes who want to harness Yvaine’s power for their own benefits. Both romantic and fantastical, this movie is sure to make you laugh and swoon.

  9. 9. Better Off Dead

     

    Now while this movie is talked about in some circles, it is far less popular than other iconic movies of its time like Ferris Bueler’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club. Better Off Dead not only deserves more attention, but could be the movie to cure your craving for that classic 80s nostalgia. Starring John Cusack as the depressed high school student Lane Meyer, this story focuses on the aftermath of the breakup of Lane's six-month long relationship with a girl named Beth (Amanda Wyss). Due to his unhealthy obsession with his ex and his overall disregard for his life, he throws himself into competition with the popular head of the ski team, Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier), saying he will beat him in a race to ski the K-12, the highest peak in their town. While kicking himself over his dumb decision, Lane befriends the French foreign-exchange student next door (Diane Franklin) who helps prepare him for the race. Packed with introspection, day-dream sequences, food that’s alive and plenty of one-liners that will have you belly-laughing, Better Off Dead is a must-see movie.

  10. 10. About Time

    Have you ever wondered what you would do if you could time travel? In this 2013 release, Tim Lake (Domnhall Gleeson) discovers on his 21st birthday that the men in his family have the unique ability to travel through time. While Tim considers many things he could do, his biggest regrets came from his love life. He believed that the love of his life, Charlotte (Margot Robbie), had gotten away from him when they spent the summer together, and uses his time travel to try to make his move, but quickly realizes that he’s wasted his time. However, when he moves to London to become a lawyer, he meets a girl named Mary (Rachel McAdams) and he knows that this is the girl of his dreams and he’ll do anything to get their timing right. This movie was unexpectedly funny and charming and is definitely not one to pass up.  

  11. 11. Love, Rosie

    If you like the friends-to-lovers trope, this is the movie for you. Love, Rosie begins as Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin), life-long best friends are celebrating Rosie’s 18th birthday at a party. During the party, Alex kisses her, but the next day, Rosie claims that she wishes that night had never happened. He misconstrues this to be about the kiss, while in reality, she simply regrets getting unbelievably drunk. This sets the two on a several-year course of imperfect timing and miscommunications. Alex decides to move abroad while Rosie has bigger complications on her hands. Both their friendship and their feelings for one another are tested over the distance and the ins and outs of other relationships in their lives. This one reminds us that it’s about the person, not about the timing, and brings out your true romantic side.

  12. 12. Imagine Me & You

    Looking for a quirky twist on every wedding-centric movie you’ve ever watched? Well, you’re in the right place. Ol Parker’s Imagine Me & You has all of the romantic moments with twice the charm. Rachel’s wedding day goes exactly to plan, or at least that’s what she thinks. During her ceremony, Rachel (Piper Perabo) meets her florist Luce (Lena Headey) and feels instantly drawn to her. While Rachel is starting her life with her new husband, Heck (Matthew Goode), she is also forming an ever-closer bond with Luce. What Rachel believes is just a harmless friendship becomes more complicated when she attempts to set Luce up with a friend, Coop, and finds out that Luce is a lesbian. Rachel then begins to question her own sexuality and whether she made the right choice in marrying Heck.

  13. 13. Get Over It

    Possibly the most underrated rom com of the early 2000s, Get Over It follows Berke Landers (Ben Foster) after his girlfriend of many years breaks up with him and begins seeing a popular new boy from school and former boyband member, Striker (Shane West). In his attempt to get her back, he decides to audition for the school’s modern production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Though he has very little acting skills, he still manages to secure a part and decides to accept the help of Kelly (Kirsten Dunst), his best friend Felix’s younger sister, in running his lines and preparing for the show. As Berke continues to spend more of his free time with Kelly, Felix (Colin Hanks) begins to question Berke’s intentions. Though ultimately predictable, Ben Foster’s take on the dejected teenage boy makes this movie both funny and unforgettable. 

Though classic rom coms like 27 Dresses and 13 Going On 30 have earned their places in our hearts, there are still so many hidden gems that go unnoticed. Next time you have a movie night, give one of these a try, you just might like it.