5 Cheesy Rom-Coms From Each Decade That Will Make You Lactose Intolerant

Just so we have everything out on the table, I hate cheese. I believe it has no business in being the main ingredient in any dish since all it does is cause pain and suffering to my poor body. However, that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to the inedible kind, and by that, I mean the sort of cheese everyone loves to hate but hates to love: rom-coms. Sure, there are some out there that have well developed characters and plots that leave you on the tips of your toes, but who wants to watch that when you’re binging on ice cream when you can have “I don’t need to see the world, it’s right in front of me.” whispered to you through the screen by a googly-eyed boy next door. So in honor of Her Campus UCF’s decades-themed week, I’ve decided to watch a romantic comedy from each decade and rate them using a cheese scale. It’s up to you to decipher what they mean — but I’ll also add in a little note to guide you along the way. 

  1. 1. Falling Inn Love (2019)

    Since we’re sort of on the cusp of 2020 — and I feel that this movie represents a more modern storytelling of love than, say, something from 2012 — I’ve decided to count Falling Inn Love as a ‘20s movie. If you love HGTV or cute little towns, this will be the movie for you. FIL is about a career-driven woman named Gabriela who has curveball after curveball thrown at her. She loses her corporate job and her boyfriend in the same week, so while she’s drinking her sorrows away she jokingly applies for an estate giveaway in New Zealand; to her glee, and confusion, she won and starts to hatch a plan to fix the place up into a Bed & Breakfast so she can have a good source of side income when she gets back to the USA.

    She adores the homey town but is horrified to see that the beautiful house that was pictured on the website was definitely not the dilapidated mess she was left with — along with a very angry pet goat. Through her misadventures, she becomes friends with the townsfolk — and sparks fly with the resident contractor who she refuses to accept help from — which brings her to a crossroads when she’s forced to choose between leaving her old, successful life in the USA behind and staying in NZ, or going home and letting go of all of the people who love her in that tiny town.

    I thought the film work was beautiful and the location was definitely the perfect choice for this movie; I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I’d love to live in that little town. All of the characters (other than the obvious antagonists) were lovely and Gabriela herself was easy to relate to, which made the rom-com enjoyable, especially as a casual watch. Still, in rom-com nature, there are a few moments that had me covering my eyes out of secondhand embarrassment. Who else can’t handle the ‘she trips and lands on his chest when they fall’  trope?

    Rate: Kapiti Ramara Cheese — a movie set in NZ deserves something close to home.

  2. 2. Easy A (2010)

    Backtracking into the early ‘10s, this winner of the Teen Choice Awards “Choice Movie” for the romantic comedy genre is without a doubt a cookie-cutter example of the sort of cheesy rom-com that has you scratching your head with some of the choices the characters make. I wasn’t quite a fan of the movie, but I do think Emma Stone is adorable, and having Lisa Kudrow as the adulterous Mrs. Griffith just had me mixing Phoebe up in the wrong universe, so while I wouldn’t rewatch it, the movie certainly had its moments.

    Easy A is about a goody-two-shoes high school girl named Olive who gets caught in a web of lies when she tells her friend that she has a date with some made-up guy in order to get out of going on a trip with her and her parents. Olive’s lie, which spirals into her saying she slept with him, is overheard and spread throughout the school — to the point where she begins to embrace it and makes a business out of it. It gets to the point where guys are giving her gift cards in exchange for her word that they slept with her. The cheesiness starts to seep through when Olive has a change of heart because she runs into an old flame and she decides she doesn’t want to be hounded by her school’s church group anymore. She starts telling the truth — and even exposes the guidance counselor for sleeping with students — but I had to close my eyes during her sing-and-dance number to get everyone to listen to her (since no one wanted to admit that she had lied for them). This was a movie that definitely showed obvious traces of it being made in 2010, mostly through the outfit choices, and I noticed that a lot of the rom-coms made in this period focused on the ‘my lie spun out of control’ trope.

    Though I must say, after watching this movie I had ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ stuck in my head for a few days, and it was certainly an earworm I couldn’t get rid of.

    Rate: Cheez Whiz — the high school and all of its occupants give me the vibe that they actually enjoy spraying processed cheese on their cafeteria food.

  3. 3. A Cinderella Story (2004)

    The early ‘00s were the holy grail of cheesy rom-coms, you hate to love them, but you just can’t stop watching flick after flick. Filled with the boy next door archetype and all sorts of shenanigans, they were the sort of cheesy that have you wincing every once in a while, but for the most part, they’re actually a dreamy sort of sweet. A Cinderella Story definitely fills those shoes — it’s a modern retelling of the Cinderella fairytale, and actually executes it in the cutest way possible, complete with a flip phone serving as the abandoned glass shoe.

    Hillary Duff plays the lovable Sam, who assumes the role of Cinderella, and you can’t help but root for her the entire way. She’s the sort of character you want to bundle up and protect from all the bad things that happen to her, and you overlook all of her cheesy moments because she’s just too cute. You might even find yourself fuming during the pep rally scene because there’s only so much someone can handle, and the fact that Austin does nothing about it doesn’t help. (Even though 2004 should be free reign for spoilers, I’m trying to remain ambiguous here incase anyone hasn’t seen the movie and wants to find out what happened for themselves).

    A Cinderella Story is a classic rom-com through and through, and I have to say it’s my favorite out of this entire list when I really want to watch something that makes me smile.

    Rate: Cream cheese, because it’s the only kind of cheese I actually like.

  4. 4. Pretty Woman (1990)

    Okay, I’ll be the one to say it — this was Richard Gere’s prime. In Pretty Woman, he plays a cold playboy corporate raider named Edward who encounters a sex worker one night, Vivian, played by Julia Roberts. Through a series of events, he ends up convincing her to act as his partner for a week in exchange for a large sum of money and an extravagant new wardrobe. In typical rom-com fashion, all the time they spend together turns into shared feelings that they struggle with due to their differences in socioeconomic status.

    What I loved the most about Pretty Woman was the chemistry between the leads. In a lot of the rom-coms in this decade, I feel there isn’t enough of a spark between the main roles to really have you invested in the relationship. This movie had me on a rollercoaster of emotions because of Vivian’s struggles and how she lit a light in Edward that made him want to develop into a better person as a whole. Plus, the ending was just the perfect amount of cheesy and leaves you with the warmest feeling in your soul.

    This is definitely a movie you have to watch for yourself, so I made sure to leave most of the interesting bits out.

    Rate: A wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, because it runs for $2,500 and I’m sure Edward can afford it.

  5. 5. Dirty Dancing (1987)

    Even though Dirty Dancing is more of a romantic drama than a romantic comedy, I still decided to include it in this list because I feel that some of its moments definitely wiggle up into the cheesy category — particularly the feel-good ending where everything is made perfect. This is one of those movies that you know almost everything about even if you’ve never watched it, and everything about it, from the cinematography to the issues presented in the film, screams the ‘80s. 

    It’s about Jennifer Grey’s character, Baby, who is a high school girl on a family trip to a resort where she meets one of the dance instructors, Johnny, played by Patrick Swayze. This was one of the things evident about the film being made in the ‘80s — the inappropriate age gap between underage Baby, who was set at being 17, and Johnny, at 25 — that was kind of glossed over in the film, considering her father was more so mad at the fact that Johnny was a “bad influence” and of “a different class” as opposed to being an adult man being interested in his teenage daughter. With that unwillingly put to the side, the rest of the movie is about Baby and Johnny’s development with their dance routine, which is then interrupted when it is discovered that Baby had lied and used her father’s money for a reason disclosed in the movie. 

    It is at the end-of-season talent show where everything is cleared up, before which Johnny and Baby perform the dance they had been practicing throughout the entire movie, and where the film’s iconic quote is uttered:

    "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

    Rate: Limburger cheese — a pungent cheese for that atrocious age gap.

The most obvious trend I noticed while watching these cheesy rom-coms through the decades was that the general recipe tended to stay the same no matter what: the main couple meets through the oddest of circumstances and keep happening to meet until everything aligns perfectly and they fall in love (with some sprinkles here and there of cheesy lines scripted by writers who think they’ll make the audience swoon). 

Still, it’s the details that separate them and what makes them so enjoyable to watch, and perhaps it’s the predictability of them that gives them their longevity. It’s easier to have a rom-com playing in the background as opposed to a thriller, especially when you’re not looking to get too emotionally invested in the characters — unless we’re talking about Pretty Woman, because I have to admit, I was attached.

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