The Roundup: It’s rom-com season

In this special Valentine’s Day edition of The Roundup, features editor Eva Williams writes about some of the best rom-coms, new and old. 

Eva Williams, Features Editor

woman on a beanbag
Tune in to The Roundup every week to catch the favorites of your fellow Mustangs! (Graphic by Ellen Chadwick)

Just like Elf is a Christmas classic and horror movies are a Halloween staple, rom-coms are the epitome of Valentine’s Day. Here’s a look through some of the best from the past few decades.

Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) 

Can’t Buy Me Love starts out with Cindy, the queen bee of the local high school, accidentally destroying her mother’s designer clothes. Ronald, an unpopular teen most known for mowing the lawns of his classmates, pays her the money she needs on a condition: she has to pretend to date him. Any Grey’s Anatomy fan can enjoy this film, as Ronald is played by 20-year old Patrick Dempsey. As in every movie with a pretend relationship (see: The Proposal, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, etc.), their relationship starts to feel more real than pretend. It’s fun, with classic 80s humor, and isn’t as problematic as the other movies of its decade.

Mystic Pizza (1988) 

Mystic Pizza follows daredevil Daisy (Julia Roberts), her Yale-bound sister, Kat (Annabeth Gish), and their sarcastic friend Jojo (Lili Taylor). All three young women work at the local pizzeria in Mystic, Connecticut, to earn a living. Throughout the movie, a new boy comes to town and quickly falls for Daisy, Kat starts to have feelings for her boss at her babysitting job, and Jojo struggles whether or not to marry her longtime boyfriend. It’s a fresh, funny movie that would put a smile on anyone’s face. Plus, 17-year old Matt Damon makes an appearance as a younger brother in one scene! 

Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani
Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani star in this action-packed rom-com. (Photo via Netflix)

The Lovebirds (2020)

The Lovebirds follows Leilani, played by Issa Rae, and Jibran, played by Kumail Nanjiani. The two are a couple whose relationship is on the rocks. Only minutes in to the movie, they break up, but then bam! A stranger commandeers their vehicle and runs over a bicyclist, seemingly on purpose. Soon, they’re running from the police, figuring out who the bicyclist was, and finding themselves in a New Orleans underground cult. All the while, Leilani and Jibran are realizing how much they care for each other. It’s fun, dramatic, and a step away from the traditional rom-com. 

Sleepless in Seattle (1993) 

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
One of the most famous rom-coms of all time, Sleepless in Seattle is a must-see. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Everyone has seen at least one Tom Hanks movie, even if it was Toy Story, and his face didn’t make an appearance. But before he starred in Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and the ever iconic Toy Story, he played Sam, a grieving widow, in Sleepless in Seattle alongside Meg Ryan, who played Annie, a young reporter in Baltimore. Here’s the setup. After Sam’s wife passes away and Sam and his son, Jonah, move to Seattle to live in a houseboat, Jonah calls a radio show to find a new wife for his dad. Sam gets on the call and proclaims his love for his deceased wife, and apparently, women around the country melt. These women include Annie, who hears Sam on the radio show while she drives home from announcing her engagement to her long-time reporter boyfriend, Walter, to her family. Throughout the movie, the audience watches as Sam starts dating again and Annie wonders if she and Sam are destined to be together. It’s a rom-com, so I think you know the answer, but it’s worth a watch. Plus, there’s a little “meet me at the top of the Empire State building” storyline! 

Ten Things I Hate About You (1999) 

Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles
Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles star in this classic 90s hit. (Photo via Little White Lies)

As far as high school rom-coms go, I would label Ten Things I Hate About You as the best. In Seattle, single father Mr. Stratford has one rule for his two daughters: no dating. One of his daughters, the popular Bianca (Larisa Olyenik), isn’t a fan, while her sister, the abrasive Kat (Julia Stiles) would rather gag than date any of the high school boys that tease her constantly. Mr. Stratford decides Bianca can date if Kat does. Cameron (Joseph Gordon Levitt), hopelessly falling for Bianca, hires the new kid, Patrick (Heath Ledger), to date Kat. The plan begins to fall into place, until, of course, Kat realizes Patrick’s been lying to her. It’s the perfect rom-com, and you’ll be singing Franki Valli for days after the iconic “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” bleachers scene. 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the perfect rom-com: there’s a crazy family, repeated jokes, and loveable main characters. It stars Toula (Nia Vardanos), a 30-year old woman working at her family’s Greek restaurant. Her family worries about her, labeling her as an old maid, until she starts attending college, changes up her hairstyle (you’ve got to love a makeover scene, right?), and meets Ian. Her family rejoices that she’s found someone. The problem? He’s not Greek. Throughout the movie, Toula and Ian plan their wedding amidst familial fiascos. It’s a funny and fresh watch. 

Yesterday (2019) 

If you’re not really into rom-coms, but a fan of The Beatles (who isn’t?), Yesterday is the perfect watch. It follows Jack, a struggling musician played by Himesh Patel. His manager and best friend, Ellie, is played by Lily James. After Jack gets into a bike accident, he finds none of his friends, or anyone in the world, know who the Beatles were. By scribbling down lyrics on post-it notes, he becomes the world’s biggest rock stars. But living a lie, to the world and to Ellie, weighs on him. It’s a funny movie that will have you singing and dancing while rooting for Jack. 

Modern Love (2020) 

Brandon Kyle Goodman and Andrew Scott
Brandon Kyle Goodman and Andrew Scott star in the seventh episode of Modern Love. (Photo via Meaww)

If you’re not in the mood for a movie, you can still get into the Valentine’s Day spirit with a show. Each episode of Modern Love follows a different person and shows their mini love story — with a partner, themself, even the doorman of their building. The stories aren’t connected, but incredible character development is seen over the course of each thirty-minute episode. I would recommend Episode 3, Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am. Anne Hathaway plays a young entertainment lawyer grappling with bipolar disorder. After meeting a man at a grocery store one morning, she thinks she’s found her match. The episode is emotional and beautiful and Hathaway absolutely shines. I would also recommend Episode 7, Hers Was a World of One. A gay couple decides to start the adoption process, and soon after meeting a pregnant homeless woman, finds their child-to-be. From a tumultuous move-in from the mother of their child and a cameo from Ed Sheeran (!), it’s a funny and sharp episode.