All my favorite romantic comedy films have two things in common, a happy ending and encouragement for those of us who may find it difficult to figure out who really is their proper soul mate.
The characters in these movies are just like us, often making poor choices only to be confronted by the truth that we really belong with someone else — or that our poor choice can turn out to be perfect after all.
Many of these stories remind us that any helpful intuition may be less than obvious in the moment, so fate, synchronicity and destiny must step in to rescue us, propelling us toward our intended love.
Here are 13 films that inspire us to find — or appreciate — our true love.
- PS, I Love You (2007) – A young widow (Hillary Swank) discovers that her late Irish husband (Gerard Butler) has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life. Her two girlfriends go along for the ride as she re-ignites her creative juices and finds new purpose — and a new love.
- The Holiday (2006) – Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz play women troubled with guy-problems. Looking for a break, they swap homes across the ocean, where each meets a local guy (Jude Law and Jack Black) and falls in love.
- The Family Stone (2005) – An uptight, conservative, businesswoman (Sarah Jessica Parker) accompanies her boyfriend to his family’s annual Christmas celebration and finds out that she’s a fish out of water. One of the plot lines about the mother, Diane Keaton, is quite sad, but the romantic themes are inspiring, with more than two siblings finding their intending partners and great comic relief in the meantime.
- The Philadelphia Story (1940) – When a woman’s ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a tabloid-type reporter (Jimmy Stewart) turn up just before her planned remarriage, rich heiress Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) begins to learn the truth about herself.
- Serendipity (2001) – John Cusack meets by chance a woman with whom he feels most at home, who tells him that if their fateful meeting is really destiny, they will surely meet again and be together. Years go by, and they find other partners, only to be led back together by synchronicity and a longing for something better.
- Sense and Sensibility (1995) – Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet star as sisters in this Jane Austin adaptation that won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. High Grant plays the love of Emma’s life — but she may have to wait a lifetime to realize her dream. Alan Rickman also stars.
- Notting Hill (1999) – The life of a simple bookshop owner (Hugh Grant) changes when he meets the most famous film star in the world (Julia Roberts) and starts up a romance. His charming friends and daft roommate add to the hilarity.
- Bull Durham (1988) – This romantic comedy about baseball features Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner at their sexiest. Annie is a lifelong spiritual seeker who latches onto the “Church of Baseball” and takes a single player as a lover each spring. This is ranked as one of America’s funniest films. (Adult content may be unsuitable for some.)
- Fool’s Gold (2008) – A married couple on the verge of divorce rekindle their romantic life while searching for a lost treasure. Kate Hudson plays the wife who is tired of her husband (Matthew McConaughey) and his irresponsible ways, inability to hold a real job and lack of money. The one thing they do share, a passion for history — and his determination — brings them back together.
- Hitch (2005) – While helping his latest client to woo the lady of his dreams, a smooth-talking professional “date doctor” (Will Smith) falls for a gossip columnist, who could blow his cover and destroy his unique New York City career niche. Also stars Eva Mendes and Kevin James (as the nerdy accountant smitten with a beautiful socialite, seemingly out of his league).
- You’ve Got Mail! (1998) – In this Nora Ephron film, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fall in love using an internet chat room and continuing to correspond via email, but have no idea that their sweetheart is in fact their bookselling rival from across the street.
- Something’s Gotta Give (2003) – Jack Nicholson plays a swinger in his 60’s and Diane Keaton, a successful writer in her 50’s. Forced to share a residence for a week, and despite being complete opposites, they strike up an affair. Keanu Reeves and Frances McDormand, also star in this hilarious misadventure that leads to love.
- Deja Vu (1997) – I don’t want to suggest that people should date outside of their marriage, but this little known movie is a must-see for those who believe in destiny. Divine or ancestral forces are at work in this synchronistic story about two people who were meant to be together, but are in need of convincing. Coincidences and serendipity pile up until there is no doubt. Lovely film by Henry Jaglom.
In compiling this list, I felt sorry that Robert Downey Jr. has not yet been cast as leading man in a romantic comedy… Maybe next Valentine’s Day.
(Watch the trailer for Deja Vu below)