It starts out innocently enough: Two people have goals, and they can help each other with those goals. They also happen to be characters in a romantic comedy, which is a type of film that benefits from specific, absurd premises. So the two heroes agree to marry by a certain date, or, as in the upcoming dude rom-com That Awkward Moment (which Vulture film critic Bilge Ebiri doesn’t even consider a rom-com), the three main bros agree to stay single. They make a pact. They seal that pact. And then, without fail, they break that pact. Here is a rundown of the many failed pacts from movie rom-com history.
My Best Friend’s Wedding
The Pact: If Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) and Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney) reach the ancient age of 28 without getting married, they will marry each other.
How the pact was sealed: With blood (from the fingertip).
Did the pact last? No, because Michael met 20-year-old Kimberly Wallace (Cameron Diaz) and fell head over heels in love. Then Julianne tried to break them up. High jinks – in the form of a fake fiancé, a cover of “Say a Little Prayer,” and one catfight in the bathroom at a White Sox game – ensue.
Lessons learned: 28 is far too early a cutoff for a marriage pact. (No one in the movie actually realizes that, but we just wanted to point it out.) Also, don’t marry a sportswriter, because then you’ll have to drop out of college to follow him around.
She’s All That
Pact: “I’ll pick the girl, and you’ve got six weeks to turn her into the prom queen.”
How the pact was sealed: With the appearance of bespectacled, overalls-wearing Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook). She has a ponytail, for god sakes. Yuck.
Did the pact last? Nope, although Laney is nominated, Cool Girl Taylor Vaughan (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) is crowned Queen.
Lessons learned: High-school pacts based on someone’s looks are really Not Okay.
Friends With Benefits
Pact: Dylan Harper (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie Rellis (Mila Kunis) decide that relationships are overrated and they’d rather just make a pact to remain friends who have occasional “meaningless” sex.
How the pact was sealed: On an iPhone app called iBible. Really.
Did the pact last? Obviously not. On film, meaningless sex never works! (Haven’t you seen the other “friends with benefits” movie, No Strings Attached?) The two eventually fall in love.
Lessons learned: If you want to have sex with someone you actually get along with (a.k.a. a friend), know that you might actually develop feelings for them.
Jumping the Broom
Pact: Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) makes a pact with God, agreeing to forgo sex before marriage if he gets her out of a sticky situation. He does and she agrees to avoid anymore one-night stands.
How the pact was sealed: During a reverent monologue, duh.
Did the pact last? Actually, yeah. Sabrina hits Jason (Laz Alonso) with her car and after they agree to get married, the film turns out to be more about their dissimilar families (one rich, one poor) getting along.
Lessons learned: God is listening? Also, there should always be a group dance at the end of a rom-com.
If Lucy Fell
The Pact: Roommates and good friends Joe MacGonaughgill (Eric Schaeffer) and Lucy Ackerman (Sarah Jessica Parker) agree that if they don’t find “wonderful, intimate relationships” by the time Lucy turns 30, they will jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.
How the pact was sealed: Over shots of tequila? The movie implies that the two first agreed on this plan back in college.
Did the pact last? No. After Lucy briefly dates a dreadlocked Ben Stiller and Eric pines over Elle Macpherson, they find themselves jealous of each other and figure out that they are actually in love.
Lessons learned: Suicide is never a joke.
The Pact: A Los Angeles prostitute named Vivian (Julia Roberts) will spend one week with billionaire Edward Lewis. She will receive $3,000 and then she will go home. There will be no mouth-kissing.
How the pact was sealed: With a bunch of extra money for new clothes.
Did the pact last? No, because Vivian kissed Edward on the mouth and then she whispered, “I love you” while she thought he was asleep. (He was not.)
Lessons learned: Kissing on the mouth really is the most intimate physical act; Rodeo Drive is full of snobs.
Two Weeks Notice
The Pact: If activist lawyer Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) agrees to work for billionaire playboy George Wade (Hugh Grant), his company will not demolish her beloved Coney Island community center.
How the pact was sealed: With a $250,000 salary and a Christmas bonus.
Did the pact last: No, because George Wade does not actually run his company. (His older brother does.)
Lessons learned: Capitalism is evil. Get everything in writing.
That Awkward Moment
Pact: After his wife asks for a separation, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) and his friends Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) make a pact to stay single together.
How the pact was sealed: The boys spend a lot of time in bathrooms together, so basically everything they do in there is automatically sanctified.
Did the pact last? No, because they all eventually fall for various women.
Lessons learned: Friendship is valuable, but it’s not worth messing up what might be true love to say cool with your bros.
Can’t Buy Me Love
The pact: Cool-girl Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson) will pretend to be dorky Ronald Miller’s (Patrick Dempsey) girlfriend for a month and make him popular – in exchange for $1,000. (She needs the $1,000 to replace a white suede jacket she ruined.)
How the pact was sealed: With a walk down the cool hallway.
Did the pact last: Yes, in the sense that Ronald got to be cool for a while. But then she made him uncool again, so ultimately: no.
Lessons learned: Don’t steal your mother’s white suede suit, are you insane?