It’s hard to beat these classics.
What constitutes a “romantic comedy” has evolved over the years, even if some of its more problematic characters have not. Many modern rom-coms take into account the highs and lows of online dating and go beyond the tiresome will-they-won’t-they storyline. Netflix has started pumping out its own takes on the rom-com—Master of None, Love, Easy—but they don’t beat some of the classics of the genre. Here are the best romantic comedies on Netflix.
The best romantic comedies on Netflix
1) 13 Going On 30
A mid-’80s teenager tired of cliques and puberty drama wishes to fast-forward to adulthood—specifically, to age 30. When her childhood wish becomes a magical reality overnight, one of the funniest coming-of-age rom-coms is born. Jennifer Garner stars as a successful and single 30-year-old who finds that adulthood still comes with its set of challenges, especially when your BFF (Mark Ruffalo) could possibly be your soulmate. —Kristen Hubby
2) 5 to 7
Defying the norm of a traditional rom-com storyline, this film shows a different perspective of love and changes the way people think about relationships. Anton Yelchin and Bérénice Marlohe play the role of two different people who fall into an open love affair that sparks a challenge for Yelchin’s conservative family and views. The romantic notions of French culture collide with a New York love story in 5 to 7, and will capture viewers who are open to the idea of modern relationships with its transcendent beauty. —K.H.
This isn’t a rom-com in the traditional sense, thanks to the line “fuck me gently with a chainsaw,” among other things. But the relationship between Winona Ryder’s and Christian Slater’s characters is one of the more complex to emerge from the ‘80s high school genre. Veronica (Ryder), one of the four popular “Heathers,” finds a mirror in JD (Slater), an outcast who inadvertently hatches a plan that kills one of the Heathers. Their relationship doesn’t have a meet-cute; it’s more about what love (or lust) makes you blind to. —Audra Schroeder
Jean-Pierre Jeunet 2001 film made Audrey Tautou a star, and it’s easy to see why. As the title character, she finds joy in bringing joy to others, quietly pulling strings around Paris to brighten the lives of strangers. She’s not a matchmaker; Amelie’s goal is something bigger. But then she stumbles upon Nino, a man with a similar goal. —A.S.
5) Blind Date
We can all relate to a noisy neighbor who won’t stop making noise, but in this case, annoying relationships with neighbors bloom into an unexpected love story. In this 2014 French film, a pianist (Mélanie Bernier) moves next door to a man (Philippe Duquesne) who needs peace and quiet for work. The two build a bickering relationship that slowly grows into something more. The only catch is the two have never met before, they communicate entirely through a shared wall in the same building. —K.H.
6) Midnight in Paris
Written and directed by Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris is a feel-good movie that will make you want to book a trip to Paris in hopes of finding adventure. While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s (Rachel McAdams) family, a nostalgic screenwriter (Owen Wilson) travels back in time to the 1920s when the clock strikes midnight. He hangs out with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and learns what’s missing in his own life in the process. —K.H.
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7) Moonrise Kingdom
This Wes Anderson film is as beautiful as it is witty and touches on the innocence of young love. Set during the summer of 1965 on an island in New England, two young kids fall in love, flee their hometown, and run away together. A search party ventures out to find the two, and they turn the town upside down, weather a storm, until they find them. —K.H.
8) Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Judd Apatow and Jason Segel brought us this modern comedy classic. A raunchy rom-com in typical Apatow fashion, the film follows Segel’s Peter, who flies to Hawaii after a breakup with his actress girlfriend. The only problem is that she’s there too, and she’s brought along her new boyfriend. Featuring a great ensemble that includes Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand, as well as Bill Hader, Jack McBrayer, Paul Rudd, and Jonah Hill in smaller roles, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is an ideal blend of bitter and sweet. The script from Segel has a surprising amount of heart for a movie featuring full frontal male nudity. —Chris Osterndorf
After a large number of employees are let go at a call center and the department is outsourced, the manager (Josh Hamilton) is directed to travel to India to train his replacement. The American businessman realizes he has to sensitize himself to the culture of India and understand the way they live—and falls in love along the way. —K.H.
10) Larry Crowne
After he’s fired by a wave of corporate downsizing at his longtime job, run-down and middle-aged Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is forced to find a solution to solve his debt and unemployment. Crowne decides to go back to college and makes friends with a group of misfits who may be nearly half his age but are facing the same trials as him. This quirky and honest rom-com makes a midlife crisis look like it’s not-so-bad, especially when Crowne’s love interest is his professor (Julia Roberts). —K.H.
Before American Ultra, another quirky rom-com, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg starred together in this throwback to 1987. Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader also star in this film about a gang of kids stuck working at an amusement park, directed by Superbad’s Greg Mottola. —A.S.
12) She’s Gotta Have It
Dramatically deciding whether someone is right or wrong for you is a common trope in the dating world (and in romantic comedies) but having to choose between three people is another story. Directed by Spike Lee, She’s Gotta Have It follows Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) who is in the middle of choosing between three men on totally different ends of the personality spectrum. One man is a total narcissist, another a controlling alpha male, and the third a shy geek who seems the most genuine. Darling’s process of trial and error is pretty laughable, but it also leads her to discover much more about herself than she knew before. —K.H.
13) Leap Year
Leap Year is a delightful cliche: Girl goes to find her slightly self-absorbed man, meets a sweet stranger along the way and falls in love with him instead. Amy Adams is a quirky character who always has to be in control and meets the charming and kind Matthew Goode when she travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend. The film will not only make you want to travel through the countryside of Ireland but make you believe that once you go with the flow of life, love can be found in unexpected places. —K.H.
14) Spanish Affair
In 2014, Spanish Affair became the highest-grossing film in Spain, and for a good reason. The culture clash between a southern man from Seville—where people are stereotypically outgoing and witty—and a woman from the fierce Basque region, makes for a rollercoaster of passion. Spanish Affair is rooted with a lot of the country’s local and cultural references. Even if you aren’t familiar with the historic competitiveness of the different regions of Spain, Spanish Affair is a rom-com that will have you giggling all the way through. —K.H.
Directed by Logan Kibens, Operator explores how technology in the modern world can get in the way of our life and relationships. As a husband and wife start working together on an artificial intelligence project featuring his wife’s voice, the husband begins to rely on their creation rather than his wife IRL. The film has a sudden dramatic turn of events toward the end, setting the movie apart from other rom-coms with a distinct poetic nature.—K.H.
16) The Matchbreaker
Nearly everyone has experienced that moment of unemployment when you will take any odd job just to pay the rent, even if it means you are about to ruin someone’s happiness. Wesley Elder plays a man who gets hired by disapproving parents to break up their child’s relationship in exchange for money. All goes well until one of his client’s daughters is his high school crush, and Elder is faced with a decision: Break her heart, or win it? —K.H.
17) I Give It A Year
Getting married is the easy part, but keeping the sparks flying is a lot more difficult. An ambitious go-getter (Rose Byrne) and a struggling writer who are crazy in love decide to get married after being in a relationship for only seven months. The people closest to them are not convinced it will work out. When the daily obstacles of marriage get in the way of the fantasy the two imagined, both husband and wife become distracted by an ex and a client, respectively, who could possibly be a better match for each of them.—K.H.
18) Chalet Girl
Chalet Girl is a heartwarming and whimsical rom-com that will make you believe in finding love at the most unexpected places. Felicity Jones plays the role of a girl who takes up a position of chalet girl during ski season to support her dad back home. Jones learns the ropes of the job but faces a tough situation when she falls for her boss, whose family falls on a different end of the class scale. The witty humor and heart-stopping exchanges between Jones and Ed Westwick in Chalet Girl are reminders that love can blossom even from the top of a mountain. —K.H.
The Incredible Jessica James opens on something many of us are all too familiar with: a very bad Tinder date. Jessica Williams plays an aspiring playwright, working through her failures in New York. She’s not above stalking her ex on Instagram or lying to her parents. But Williams gives us a performance that reminds us that we’re all human and that falling down is not something to be ashamed of. In the process, she breathes life into the tired rom-com genre. —Sarah Jasmine Montgomery
Romance is easy. Love is hard. Romantic comedies are even harder. Sam and Mollie, played by Ben Schwartz and Noël Wells, spend their third anniversary debating their future as a couple. As the movie goes on the story presents a more compelling case in favor of the couple breaking up than staying together. The performances play into that, and both shine brighter in the fight scenes. But at a scant 78-minute runtime, Happy Anniversary is a minimal time investment with enough charm to get by. —Eddie Strait
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.