Romantic comedies are the BEST films to watch…anytime. They never get old!
For single women especially, we live vicariously through these stories in order to have romance in our lives; harbouring secret hope that one day we are lucky enough to be in a situation where we have 2 amazing candidates vying for our affection.
Watching countless rom-coms over my lifetime, I have seen many wonderful stories play out on screen, but the best kind of rom-coms are the ones where love triangles persist. Not just a ‘wake up and see which person you should be with’ kind of story, but a ‘how will they choose the right one?’ kind of situation.
For viewers, these triangles are epic because even though we know who someone should be with, we can completely see the positives of the other candidate as well. Sometimes it is just too hard to choose, it kills us.
After yet another afternoon of rom-com watching, this got me thinking. Whilst we relish in stories of people fighting for the one they love; the moment the guy wins the girl back after all this time, and true love is found- what about the person who is rejected? The person who really had nothing wrong with them, other than the fact that they fell in love with someone who had unresolved feelings for someone else?
While we can all enjoy the moment of lover’s reuniting, it still pains us to see a worthy person miss out purely for coming in second best to someone’s first choice.
Whilst I sound like a weirdo for talking about this as if it is real life; there is a reason we continue to watch these films (and re-watch them!) time and time again as well. We thrive on the drama and heartache of decisions like this. Hey, love triangles are the reason good television shows exist-like ‘Dawson’s Creek’, ‘Melrose Place’ or even ‘Nashville‘! Soaps like ‘The Bold & The Beautiful’ and ‘The Young & The Restless’ are another story altogether (but still entertaining). This all makes for juicy story lines!
Thinking about this in even more detail got me thinking about which rom-coms stand out against others. Those films we all (yes, even you), have seen at least once but usually more because they were done well.
These love triangles are heralded because the casting was perfect and the chemistry for both relationships was right up there. Even though we love these stories and feel happy in the end for the love triangle to find a resolution and true love to prevail; we still feel sad for the other person who missed out. Because even though they weren’t the right one we were still rooting for them anyway.
So which films have given us (in my view) the best love triangles imaginable that we really feel pained for the person who must decide? While I could go into classic Hollywood with the likes of ‘Casablanca’, I won’t be in this case. Why? Because I can’t even manage to sit through it! I don’t doubt it is a classic, it just isn’t one of mine.
So here’s my top 5. You can agree or disagree with it, but either way you can’t doubt the popularity and chemistry in these films. So if you haven’t seen any of these…fix this immediately! (and maybe don’t spoil the ones you still want to see by reading them all!)
Something Borrowed (2011)
Colin Egglesfield, Ginnifer Goodwin & Kate Hudson
When it comes to rom-coms Kate Hudson has had her fair share of memorable roles. But this time around, she is not the winner in this race. Although her character Darcy is quite the demanding diva, she really does not deserve to be betrayed by her fiance and best friend in this instance; (even if she is less than innocent herself). Having two of the most important people in her life turning on her is not a position anyone would want to be in; but the simple fact is- Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) liked Dex (Colin Egglesfield) first and Darcy still went there.
Rachel and Dex had a friendship in college which blossomed into un-proclaimed love. But due to a lack of confidence on Rachel’s part at being ‘out of Dex’s league’ “hot people are supposed to be with hot people”, she in turn enabled a relationship to begin between Darcy and Dex by not speaking up. Luckily, she finds her voice just before it’s too late; but it does cost her a real friendship in the process which would want to be truly worth it to lose something so important.
Now I can slam Darcy’s character and egotistical behaviour all day, along with her self-centered ‘personality’; but it does not mean she is ill suited to Dex. But because of who he truly is and what he realizes he wants in his life, he is better suited with Rachel; the one he connected with first, “didn’t you feel what I was feeling?” and who shares his outlook in life. (And I do not whatsoever condone cheating, but in this case I get it.)
There are no innocent people in this love triangle, but when you are better suited to someone and the feelings have always been there, there is only one option to make and Dex made the right choice, even though it went against his parent’s expectations of his life. I feel for Darcy, but she still got a happy ending whether you watch the film or have read the books!
But no matter what, a long lasting friendship was lost which is still sad, offering the most heartbreaking scene of them all.
The Notebook (2004)
Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling & James Marsden
The world’s most favorite love story…if you are Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’s Noah and Allie that is. Not only is their story one of the best: 365 letters, 7 years of heartache, kisses in the rain and one almighty special Notebook; you really have to feel for James Marsden’s, Lon on this one.
Lon was a successful guy, he loved Allie and knew what we wanted when he met her. He was all in right from the get go. Noah unfortunately, found himself as the young, undesirable option with no money and class, but his love was strong and never wavered even after his teenage Summer romance with Allie ended with the help of her parents.
The Notebook to this day has one of the ultimate love triangles because no one was at fault here. Noah’s letters were hidden by Allie’s protective mother, but still he wanted his life with her; “It wasn’t over. It still isn’t over.” Lon was everything her parents could have dreamed their daughter would find coming from family money. Allie loved them because they were both good men, money or no money. It was truly a predicament.
But in the end, she knew which one she loved the most. I mean having someone build you the house you described years before with no guarantee that you would ever come back is love at its finest. Noah was always going to win. But I always feel sorry for Lon. He was a good man who was willing to forgive Allie for re-visiting her past because he wanted to be with her; “Allie, it’s normal not to forget your first love, but I want you for myself.“ That relationship was real love too.
Many people view this story as memorable because of the effort Noah goes to when Allie suffers from Alzheimer’s disease when they are older. But I think what people forget is this story is so memorable because although Allie loved Noah all those years ago, she began to love another man who was just as worthy for different reasons. Having to make the choice of who to be with for the rest of her life was not an easy decision to make because she had two amazing men vying for her…even the audience were unsure who she should be with (for a second!).
But in the end, I wholeheartedly agree that she made the right choice simply because her first love never died and as good a catch as Lon was…he wasn’t Noah. And that is all that mattered in this story.
It’s Complicated (2009)
Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin & Steve Martin
‘It’s Complicated’ is one film that bypassed many people. BUT as someone who watches this film regularly, (as does my sister, Nikki), its story is awesome.
Catering to an older audience with Meryl Streep’s, Jane having to decide between ex-husband, Jake (Alec Baldwin) and new romantic interest, Adam (Steve Martin), anyone can enjoy this film.
‘It’s Complicated’ had its casting perfect. It was a ‘complicated’ love triangle to say the least as Jane rekindles a relationship (and affair) with her re-married ex-husband after an accidental night of dancing and many drinks while at a New York City hotel; “Home Sweet Home.” Haha!
This film separates itself from love stories like The Notebook, because grown children are involved and there is so much baggage from the divorce itself preceding the start of this film. Whether Jane seeks this relationship with Jake out of revenge “I’m having an affair with Agnes Adler’s husband!”, comfort or loneliness the clear question surrounds whether they should give this another go because they were already a family once before.
Complicating things even more, is the introduction of Adam, Jane’s new architect who is helping her build an extension to her house, and the feelings she has for him in this new and fresh relationship; “We’re on a date!”
Both men suit Jane really well, and there really is no clear cut answer on who she is better off with in this story. Ultimately, Jane realises that she needed to go back in order to move forward and whether that was with another person or Adam is not the point. Jane really needed to be finished with this relationship or go back to it, so she did what she had to and managed to get out alive and into a new place. She managed to walk away without her decade-old baggage as well.
Meeting Adam, a fellow divorcee was also perfect for her, in that he understood her past and the two of them fit really nicely at this point in their lives. It felt so right.
As much as I enjoyed watching the chemistry (and humour) of Jane and Jake; Adam always won me over because he was a genuinely nice person who offered her far more than Jake ever could moving forward. Choosing to say goodbye to Jake was the only choice she could make after everyone learnt about the affair; but Adam eventually came around and rekindled the relationship because it mattered to him too.
This is definitely one rom-com everyone should watch. Nancy Myers is a genius…every single time. It really was a complicated story! But by far her best one yet!
My Best Friends Wedding (1997)
Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz & Dermot Mulroney
My Best Friends Wedding is the classic rom-com of the 90s.
Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney are easily a likeable pair on screen as Julianne and Michael; so when new fiancee Kimmy (Cameron Diaz) comes along it really stirs the pot.
Whether their ‘if we’re still single and 28 we marry each other’ agreement matters or not, it is clear that Julianne and Michael have a close friendship that could easily spill over into a relationship; and early on that is exactly what we want to happen. We want the new girl taken down! “George-She’s Toast!”
But the more we see of Kimmy, the ‘ditzy’ rich girl who is only in her early 20s, we begin to like her and see just what Michael loves about her too. This makes it hard for us to handle when we were pushing for Michael to realise that he really loves Julianne; but in reality the ‘moment passed them by’ and he is better suited to someone else. He still needs to make that decision of course, which he does. Julianne in turn, realises that she has lost him…but to someone really special that fits him perfectly.
This is exactly why I love this film. We go in expecting it to be a ‘girl gets boy’ story, but in reality ‘the other girl gets the boy’ in this instance and rightfully so! It is a truly lovely conclusion to a wonderful film.
‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ is a classic rom-com, in line with the ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally’. It is one story that doesn’t end up like you expect…but you’re still happy with the result!
The Wedding Planner (2001)
Jennifer Lopez, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras & Matthew McConaughey
Last on the list, is one of my favourites, ‘The Wedding Planner’. I LOVE this film!
Mary (Jennifer Lopez), the single Wedding Planner who (along with her Jimmy Choo), is rescued from being road kill by her knight in shining armour Steve (Matthew McConaughey)…quickly finds out he is her new client Fran’s (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) husband-to-be.
What is easily seen as a typical rom-com, this film is so much deeper than it appears. Mary has had bad luck with men and was all but left at the altar by the last guy. However, she is a strong, independent woman who hasn’t given up on finding love.
Steve, is a nice guy and a doctor who only eats brown M&Ms because he figures “they have less artificial colouring, as chocolate’s already brown”. He is engaged to Fran, a hardworking career girl who complements him very well. But he questions whether he is making the right decision marrying her as they have been together for so long it is hard to tell the difference.
And even though Fran questions this as well to Mary, Mary takes herself out of the running by reassuring Fran that she is not making a mistake. Mary really exemplifies realism by acknowledging to Steve that she can’t do to Fran what happened to her. “I know Fran, I respect her. And she loves you.” This may be a rom-com full of cheesiness, but it is moments like these that we see proper, heartfelt decisions being made. That people won’t always cheat when given the chance. That caring about other people is really important no matter what you have to give up to do so.
Fran and Mary are amazing women and both are completely likeable and compatible with Steve. There is no fault with either of them, even Fran; who we all really wanted to hate so Mary could finally get her man. Steve really has a dilemma on his hands with this one.
It isn’t until his wedding day that he and Fran realise they shouldn’t get married as they have lost who they wanted to be by remaining in a comfortable relationship; “I haven’t thought about what I really want in so long,” Fran says in reference to them both.
Steve and Fran will always care for each other and that is what defines this film: the manner in which they break up and the love they still have for each other. Although he and Fran amicably decide to do this; Steve also realises he loves Mary because she has bought out things in him that Fran did not. He began to realise that he wasn’t content enough with Fran which leads him to choosing Mary in the end as it was the right choice for all of them.
Romantic comedies are an escape we all need. They offer us highs and lows; and for 90 minutes we can live vicariously through these stories when our own lives may not feel as interesting or romantic. Watching people fight for a relationship, falling in love when all odds are against them, or just watching characters experience awkward situations is why we love these films. Love triangles make these all the more better…but the GOOD love triangles make these films that much more memorable and dramatic.
Because let’s face it, that’s what we really want!
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