An Ode To The Rom Com: Why We’ll Never Stop Loving A Good Old-Fashioned Love Story

Plus, ten of Team STELLAR's absolute faves.

Netflix

Last weekend, as drops of unseasonal rain fell on my roof and a mug of hot tea (Barry’s and a splash of milk, thank you) steamed in my hand, I nestled into bed to watch Set It Up. If you haven’t been scrolling through the What’s New category on Netflix, Set It Up is about  ‘two overworked and underpaid assistants who come up with a plan to get their bosses off their backs by setting them up with each other’. I’m not going to lie – I didn’t go in with high expectations. The premise sounded a tad cliche and I was preeeetty sure it would be like fellow Netflix Original A Christmas Prince; the kind of cheesy, so-bad-it’s-good flick you can’t help but love.

But hopping Hugh Grants, I couldn’t be more wrong! What I got was the best romantic comedy I’ve seen since 2011’s Crazy, Stupid Love. Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell are little-boy-from-Love-Actually-level adorable as wannabe-cupids Harper and Charlie, making me laugh out loud with their edgy banter and relatable millennial troubles. Lucy Liu shines as a badass female sports writer, and Pete Davidson is a firm fave as Charlie’s witty, voice-of-reason housemate. Set It Up is so undeniably fantastic that even the setting of New York (the tropey-est of all rom-com tropes) doesn’t feel tired.

Netflix

But perhaps the thing that truly made me fall head-over-heels for Set It Up (maybe even more than Katherine Heigl did for James Marsden in 27 Dresses) was its subtle nods to When Harry Met Sally, not just my favourite rom-com but my favourite movie of all time.

To me, Nora Ephron’s 1989 classic is a masterpiece that wrote the recipe for every film to follow in the genre. I recently saw it at an indie theatre in the States and even though it was my 754205290th time devouring it, I was still blown away by the chemistry between Meg Ryan as perennially peppy Sally Albright and Billy Crystal as the Harry Burns, the heartwarming interludes from geriatrics who’ve found everlasting love, the hilarious b-plot romance between Harry and Sally’s respective best friends Jess (Bruno Kirby) and Marie (played by the effervescent Carrie Fisher whose name in the opening credits commanded a touching round of applause from the audience), the ability of Harry’s New Year’s Eve speech to make me sob, and that scene in the diner which, nearly 30 years later, still made an entire cinema crack up as though it was brand-new.

So, buoyed on the spirit of Set It Up and the nostalgic path it led me down, I set about finding out which rom coms team STELLAR – and our pals at sister mag VIP – hold as near and dear as my beloved Harry does Sally.

Valerie Loftus – Online Editor 

“The rom-com I return to time and again is 90s classic Clueless. I think of it as only half a rom-com, since the friendships are just as, if not more, important than the romantic relationships, but it totally counts, right? The fashion is iconic (I still want Cher’s revolving wardrobe), the soundtrack is just banger after banger, and it’s infinitely quotable even two decades later. Like, “You’re a virgin who can’t drive” will never be beaten as an insult. Aw, I want to watch it right now!”

Paramount Pictures

Helen O’Neill – Editorial Intern
“My fave rom-com is My Best Friend’s Wedding.  I love it firstly because of how good Julia Roberts is; I think it’s one of her best. The dynamic between her and Dermot Mulroney is so pure and you can really see the love between them but I especially love her relationship with Rupert Everett, the true hero. I also love the non-traditional ending and the ditziness of Cameron Diaz’s character. Even though you want to hate her, and Julia Roberts wants to hate her, it’s like hating a puppy – you just can’t because she’s innocent and harmless and nothing beats her singing I Say A Little Prayer!”

Linda Conway – Fashion Editor

“Notting Hill! It’s silly and sweet and anything Julia Roberts is in is GOLDEN.”

Niamh Dunn – Fashion Intern
“My favourite rom-com is Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon. The reason why it’s one of my favourites is the concept of Melanie Carmicheal completely changing her whole identity but her past never truly leaves her. Even though she tries to do everything to escape her past, its almost embedded in her DNA.”
Kate Gilligan – Designer
“I adore Pretty in Pink! Molly Ringwald plays the perfect lusted-by-all gal in this 1980s belter. Amidst all the romance-related drama leading up to her high school prom, she manages to whip together her own dress AND end up with the guy she’s meant to be with! It’s got a killer soundtrack to boot.”
Jen Morris – Social Media Manager
“I love The Duff – it is absolute peak teen cringey rom-com! I like that it’s a little bit sad while also being funny and extremely #relatable, and you can’t beat the “Are you going to get your crown?” “No, I’m going to get the girl” exchange – I-CON-IC.”

Niamh Foran – VIP Weekend Editor 

“My all-time fave romantic comedy is Ten Things I Hate About You. It’s a classic but also one you can watch with the gals on a night in. A movie that has a scene with Heath Ledger musically serenading his girl is one that I will ALWAYS be on board with. Also, there’s a killer soundtrack and Julia Stiles’ final monologue  – “But mostly I hate that I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all” –  is stunningly emosh. OBSESSED!”

Niamh Devereux – VIP Deputy Editor 
“I’ve always had a soft spot for Pretty Woman. To be fair, it’s absolutely iconic. The ‘Oh you work on commission right? Big mistake. Huge’ scene; when Richard Gere snaps the jewellery box on Julia Roberts’ hand and she laughs like a deranged drain; when she sings a birra’ Prince in a bubble bath (#livingherbestlife); the moment when Vivian’s pal Kit tells her, in a strong Brooklyn accent, that she’s essentially ‘Cinder-fuckin’-ella’… it’s really just a classic. I also adore how it’s not a conventional love story, as flawed as its storyline may be.”
Megan Roantree – VIP Staff Writer
“13 Going On 30 has been my favourite movie since I first saw it when I was 10. While magic dust transporting you to your 30s doesn’t sound like the makings of a good movie, the cast, soundtrack, style and emotion make it perfect to me. There is so much about it that I love, from her 80s style to the relatable feelings of inadequacy that she has as a teen.
Jennifer Garner’s timing and looks of bewilderment as a sudden 30-year-old are just perfect. There are fun scenes, like the Thriller dance scene and the girly sleepover, and then all of a sudden it gets really sweet when she decides to turn the magazine into something that every girl will love, enlists the help of Matt, and also reconnects with her parents – which is one part of the movie that I only really appreciated as I got older. I like that the film isn’t about her quest for love, but when her childhood best friend is by her side and happens to be a lovely guy, she can’t help but fall for him. So cute!”
Michelle Dardis – VIP Online Editor 
“I’m obsessed with How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days. Andie (Kate Hudson) is basically one of the gal pals – that goofy persona makes her someone I’d want to hang out with on the reg. And as for Ben (Matthew McConaughey), I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t nice to look at! It’s so easy to watch – ideal for hangover days when you can’t move your head from the couch but need a good belly laugh, or even any given Wednesday to ease you through the midweek slump. I might have to pencil it in again very soon – it’s been too long!”

While Rotten Tomatoes may not think much of them, we adore our oul rom-coms. They leave us feeling warm and fuzzy, hopeful that true love still exists, and convinced that even the biggest of miscommunications can be fixed with a Grand Gesture . For 90 glorious minutes, they make us believe – to quote the 2003 Christmas classic – that love actually is all around.

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