Five Things Friday: Romantic Movies that Go Beyond All That Gross Kissy Stuff*

*Gross kissy stuff according to a three year old. Not the opinion of the author.

There was a time, long ago, when I went to the movie theater on a regular basis. I would easily lose myself for a couple of hours in a romantic comedy or the latest thriller or even a classic movie – due in large part to a wonderful 12 month period when I lived within steps of the famous Astor theater in St. Kilda.

There was also a time, long ago, when I could proudly declare that I had seen most, if not all, of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscar telecast and share my informed opinion on who should win.

Of course those days are over thanks to something call “parenthood” – and the increase in the number of best picture nominees didn’t help my cause.

So, as I share my favorite romantic movies, you’ll notice that most of the films on the list are more than a few years old. Part of this is because I have to be particularly choosy about how I spend my movie-viewing time, but I also believe that it is because it is incredibly difficult to make a  great romantic comedy – one that doesn’t resort to cliches or painful sentimentality to tell a story.

Without further ado, my choices for the top five romantic movies that stimulate the mind as well as the heart strings.

1. When Harry Met Sally

Hand’s down my all time favorite romantic movie. I think I’ve seen it more than 30 times and owned it on VHS in Australia before I upgraded to a DVD copy when we moved to the US (Blue ray may be next). It’s a funny, romantic story about friends who finally find love right in from of them. I love the “documentary” interviews that are sprinkled throughout the film and, of course, the quotable dialogue that ends with one of the most romantic declarations of love ever found in a movie.

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. “

This film caused me to fall in love with Billy Chrystal for a couple of hours – now that’s genius.

2. Like Water for Chocolate

Back when I used to see a lot of movies, I also used to see a lot of foreign movies. I know, it was a crazy, frivolous use of time and I LOVED it. One of my favorites was “Like Water for Chocolate”, a story about forbidden love and the heroine channels her pain and  passion through the food she cooks. Funny, romantic and, above all, delicious.

“The trouble with crying over an onion is that once the chopping gets you started and the tears begin to well up, the next thing you know you just can’t stop!”

3. The Princess Bride

This movie has revenge, kidnapping, swordplay, giants, poison and Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS’s) but above all, it’s about “TWUE WUV”. I vividly remember going to see the Princess Bride as a child with my Mum, my brothers and one of my Mum’s friends with her kids in tow. It made such an impression that I simply cannot wait until my kids are old enough to enjoy this film. Of course, given they’ve declared the movie “UP” to be too scary thanks to the appearance of a bad guy, I may have to wait a little while. I don’t think they’re quite ready for Prince Humperdink and his Pit of Despair.

“I was eleven years old. And when I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.””

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A story about breakup and the lengths two people would take to erase memories that are almost too painful to bear. Is erasing the bad worth the loss of the good memories as well? This movie is a bit of a mind bender, but that’s what makes it such a unique and wonderful love story. Kate Winslet is fabulous and even Jim Carrey plays it wonderfully straight. Unforgettable, for sure.

“Look man, I’m telling you right off the bat I’m high maintenance. So I’m not gonna tip-toe around your marriage or whatever it is ya got goin’ on there. If you wanna be with me, you’re with me.”

5. Annie Hall

OK, I admit that Woody Allen is not everyone’s cup of tea, but who can deny the brilliance of the dialogue in this movie. It’s just an everyday story of two people who meet, fall in love and then find themselves hating each other. But what makes this movie rise above the ordinary is the list of fantastic one-liners and Diane Keaton at her most fabulous.

“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark. “

Special Mentions

  • An Affair to Remember – I had to include at least one classic. Cary Grant. Enough said.
  • Crazy Stupid Love – funny, unexpected AND released within the last 12 months. 
  • While you were sleeping – A gentle, only slightly predictable, love story. It won’t make you think very hard, but it will definitely make you smile. 
  • Edward Scissorhands – this film is visually amazing and, of course, I’m a sucker for Johnny Depp, even at his most freaky-looking.
  • Up – what’s not to love about a cartoon that can tell an entire story of a couple’s relationship from beginning to end in a 3 minute montage?

Did I miss one or two (or 20)? Share your own favorites in the comments.

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