The 1980s were an incredibly fruitful decade for romantic comedies. Whether you need a loving couple to invest in, sarcastic wit to laugh at or characters with honest emotions to relate to, some combination of these five films should have you covered.
5. "Modern Romance"
Cringe-comedy has seen quite the rise in the past two decades, with shows such as "The Office" dominating pop-culture. All the way back in 1981, Albert Brooks directed and starred in "Modern Romance," a cringe-comedy that explores anxiety and longing in all too real ways. This film can be a tough hang because of how it cuts to the core of emotional trauma and baggage, but Albert Brooks’ downward spiral is too disastrous and hilarious to look away from.
4. "Something Wild"
"Something Wild" is the ultimate male boomer fantasy film in which a young, well-mannered businessman is kidnapped by a hipster woman for a weekend of lovemaking. Jeff Daniels plays the main character, who is initially terrified of what this whole endeavor will do to his life, but he eventually succumbs to his feelings for Melanie Griffith’s hipster Audrey and decides to stick by her side when her ex-husband, played by Ray Liotta, is released from prison and threatens her. "Something Wild" is a comedy, crime, romance and coming-of-age film wrapped into one idiosyncratic package that is unlike anything else.
3. "Broadcast News"
Before James L. Brooks produced "The Simpsons," he created "Broadcast News," an unconventional romantic comedy about a trio of news anchors who are torn between following feelings or principles. Holly Hunter plays a rising-star producer who values her professional ethics above all, William Hurt plays a dimwitted news anchor who relies on charisma and Albert Brooks plays a neurotic correspondent who is deeply in love with Hunter’s character, Jane Craig. "Broadcast News" is funny because of its dry wit, but it best succeeds when you engage with the questions it raises about love, happiness, intellect and, relevant as ever, fake news.
2. "When Harry Met Sally"
What initially feels like a string of rejected Saturday Night Live bits strung together, "When Harry Met Sally" becomes a surprisingly heartfelt movie with a lot to say about relationships. Writer Nora Ephron takes the slapstick humor of the 1980s and infuses it with a sarcastic wit that foreshadows the style of humor that would define the '90s in shows such as "Seinfeld." This is the funniest pure comedy on the list, but director Rob Reiner portrays these characters with enough tenderness that the constant gags don’t diminish the emotional stakes. The emotional climax of the film uses "Auld Lang Syne," the famous New Year’s Eve song everyone knows from "It’s a Wonderful Life" — a cheap trick, sure, but it’s impossible to not get teary-eyed during this one.
1. "Say Anything"
When it comes to teenage romance flicks, none stand in comparison to the sweetness and honesty that writer and director Cameron Crowe gives to his leads in the 1989 film "Say Anything." The movie follows recent high school graduate Lloyd Dobbler, played by John Cusack, on his quest to garner valedictorian Diane Court’s attention. This perfectly depicts many of the emotional and practical issues young people face when trying to find love, happiness and purpose. There’s a reason the boombox scene is one of the most iconic in the history of film: It pushes all the right buttons to earn that emotional climax. If you need a relationship to get invested in and give you hope this Valentine’s Day, watch "Say Anything." It's pure brilliance.
Compared to many of the romantic comedies being made today, these are pretty unconventional films, but they laid down the tropes many modern rom-coms still use. These films range from funny to tear-jerking, but they are engaging on a human level few movies in history are, so give them a try on Valentine's Day or your next movie night.