backlash to the backlash

25 Best Romantic Comedies: Ebiri on 10 Omissions Readers Are Angriest About

David Edelstein and I had a blast compiling our list of the 25 Best Romantic Comedies Since When Harry Met Sally and are thrilled that it has incited so much discussion. The 200-plus comments that it generated were heavily weighted to readers pointing out the films we left out and asking who in their right mind would have left out this incredible film!? David jumped into the fray on Wednesday to offer some thoughts about our selection process and a few movies people considered blasphemous omissions (you’ll find his responses in the comments on our original list); below, I’ve chimed in with my thoughts about ten movies that readers told us should have made the cut.

Pretty Woman (1990)
The comment: “I came here just to complain about the exclusion of Pretty Woman. Sure, it involves a hooker, but i think it’s better than quite a few of the listed movies.”—IHateYouAll
Ebiri: Julia Roberts as a hooker with a heart of gold? Please! This movie is probably one of the most dated rom-coms of all time. And I actually think it’s kind of offensive.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
The comments:Four Weddings and a Funeral. Come on.”—montgopl; “Four Weddings and a Funeral! How could you leave that brilliant movie off the list? Yes it also has drama but basically it’s a romantic comedy.” —Cruspix
Ebiri: I love this movie. David doesn’t. And that’s okay: There are popular movies he loves that I don’t. David urged me to watch Enchanted, for example. I saw it and it did very little for me. This is because I am dead inside. And if Something’s Gotta Give had come up, I would have nixed it, because I think it’s awful. One of the exciting things about doing a list where you have to collaborate is that the other person can sometimes change your perspective. For example, David’s love for The Proposal, a film I didn’t care for at the time, made me watch it again, and I saw it with fresh eyes. But Four Weddings is just a movie we disagree on.

Before Sunrise franchise (1995, 2004, 2013)
The comment: “If Eternal Sunshine is considered as a romantic comedy, it is absurd if you do not include Before Sunset in the list as they share the same thematic category.”—reza.mirza.754
Ebiri: We discussed these films, too. I very much prefer Before Sunset, David prefers Before Sunrise. But none of these films feel like comedies to us. Eternal Sunshine, on the other hand, has a genuinely ridiculous and comic premise, and it’s an extremely fast and funny movie — much more so, I think, than the Linklater-Delpy-Hawke films. But yes, you’re right: They do share some thematic DNA, though I think they fall on different sides of an (admittedly ever-changing) genre dividing line.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)
The comment: “Um, The Proposal over While You Were Sleeping? No. So much no. While You Were Sleeping has such a wonderful ensemble cast, and does not rely on an eagle picking up a puppy (??) for laughs.” —HallieWriter
Ebiri: We discussed this one, too. It’s never really done a lot for me. I think, quite honestly, that Sandra Bullock became a better comedy actress when she got older.

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997); High Fidelity (2000)
The comments: “I think my favorite cracked romance is the one between John Cusack and Minnie Driver in Grosse Pointe Blank. Its premise is slick and high concept, professional hit man goes to his H.S. reunion and tries to win back his old sweetheart, but it was totally natural and even credible, thanks to a great script that made everybody in the movie a world-clase smart-ass.”—NLM77; “OK — where the hell is High Fidelity? Seriously, guys.”—lisamarie0206
Ebiri: Cusack! I like Grosse Pointe Blank, though, again, not as much as the others on this list. If Say Anything had been released a few months later, it would have made this list. (The list was for best romantic comedies since When Harry Met Sally, which opened in July 1989. Say Anything was April 1989.) And I love High Fidelity. We discussed that one, too, but again, we had differing opinions on it.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
The comment: “If Julia is one of ‘the two giants of the form,’ why does she only one film on the list? [My] Best Friend’s Wedding and Pretty Woman should totally have been included.” —BPHolten
Ebiri: We discussed this movie. I like it quite a bit. David argued, quite eloquently, that it’s not really a romantic comedy. I think it’s actually kind of a platonic romance between Julia and Rupert Everett (who is magnificent, and deserves a Nobel Prize for this film). But we felt it was important to have titles we agreed on.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)
The comments: “I actually assumed You Got Mail would just be #1 when I got to the top five and it hadn’t been listed yet.” — jtdirte13; “I imagine that You’ve Got Mail was supposed to be on here, but something dreadful happened.” —gusnbaxter
Ebiri: While I don’t hate this movie, I don’t particularly like it, either. I even watched it again last month, to see if maybe it holds up better than it played originally. I know many people enjoy it — more power to them — but I find it to be rather shallow, and it suffers from two comparisons: One, to the superior Sleepless in Seattle. And two, to the infinitely superior Shop Around the Corner.

Love and Basketball (2000)
The comment: “I haven’t even read the list, but the fact that you didn’t include Love and Basketball is pretty significant. Not the funniest film, but the warmth and lived-in feeling of that movie is incredible. Bummed to see such a lily white list.”—jlsisc
Ebiri: Love and Basketball is one of my favorite films of all time. And I think Sanaa Lathan gives one of the greatest performances of all time in it. I think it’s a monumental film. But … it’s not a comedy. It is very much a drama. The lack of an African-American rom-com on here, as we noted in the intro (which I’d urge everyone to read), is something we’re aware of. For my part, I would have loved to have included Breakin’ All the Rules or The Best Man. There’s also Charles Burnett’s The Annihilation of Fish, which never got a theatrical release and isn’t available anywhere. Check that one out, if it ever shows up on TV. It’s fantastic.

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
The comment: “Any Reese Witherspoon film also seemed to fail to make the list, her best being Sweet Home Alabama (although I still fail to believe she would leave the pre-Grey’s McDreamy). But this was a classic girl goes home to find out her first love was the one all along — but it also was really nice to see Reese grow up in a post-Election and Legally Blonde era.”—gtproductions
Ebiri: It’s not a terrible movie, but is it one of the 25 Best of the last 25 years? I certainly don’t think so. Remember, just because a movie isn’t on this list doesn’t mean that we think it’s bad. (Unless it’s Love Actually, which is not on this list because it is a crime against humanity. See below.) I like Reese Witherspoon a lot. She hasn’t made a truly great romantic comedy, though she is an excellent comic actress, as evidenced in Election and Legally Blonde. That’s okay. She’s made lots of other very good films that aren’t rom-coms. She’ll live.

Love Actually (2003)
The comment: “No Love Actually? The movie that Vulture (and other outlets) spent days celebrating in December on its ten-year anniversary?” —jacobsjj
Ebiri: This was actually the very first movie David and I discussed — because we had to clear the room first. I hate this movie. I hated it then, I hate it now. Cheap, manipulative, ADD, full of one-liners that are non sequiturs, an idiotic political subplot that plays … not to the cheap seats, but to the bent, used straws in the broken drink holders in the cheap seats. That it has since become kind of a touchstone for some folks is mind-boggling, but then again, there are 6 billion people in the world, so nothing should surprise me at this point.

25 Best Rom-Coms: 10 That Didn’t Make the Cut