12 Romantic Comedies for Women Who Kick Ass

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I was never into celebrating Valentine’s Day.

In fact, I have ranted a time or two (or fifty) about how it’s a Hallmark holiday designed to get Americans to spend money on cards and flowers that end up in the trash a couple days later. Not to mention the splurging on overpriced extravagant jewelry.

Forced romance? No, thank you.

And then I fell in love.

Scratch That

Yes, romance is best when spontaneous. OF COURSE it should come from the heart. And love is something to express year-round, not a checkbox to mark off one day a year.

You Make My Heart Have Really Huge Boners

But getting a ready-made excuse to act as sappy as humanly possible and shower your honey in over-the-top expressions of your love?

SIGN. ME. UP.

No, wait a second – can we have that every month?!

And I’m not talking bonbons and bling.

Now that we have two little ones, we take advantage of any opportunity to stay connected as a couple – no matter how small.

For Valentine’s Day, we’ll celebrate by popping in a romantic comedy after the girls go to bed. (And okay, maybe some bonbons too.)

But Here’s My Problem

My feelings toward the typical romantic comedy are a lot like my feelings toward 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight. Or Diet Coke. I knew they were crap, but some unspecified addictive chemical in them kept me reading/drinking.

So just like I cut out Diet Coke, I want to cleanse myself of movies like The Ugly Truth and What’s Your Number.

Not because romantic comedies are by definition crap. That is definitely not the case.

“Stop saying ‘chick flick’ like it’s ‘pile of rotten meat’ and stop saying ‘chick lit’ and ‘chick book’ and ‘chick movie’ and anything else that suggests that love stories are less than war stories, or that stories that end with kissing are inherently inferior to stories that end with people getting shot.”

No, I want to make room for “chick flicks” that will speak to me, a modern woman.

Wonder Woman

Show me a strong woman who is capable of solving problems on her own. A woman who isn’t magnetically drawn to the most chauvinistic man she’s ever met. A woman who has real life struggles beyond deciding which Manolo Blahnik to drop a whole paycheck on this week.

Because you know what?

We’re better than that.

We deserve a sweet, funny love story that doesn’t ask us to check our badassness at the theater door.

12 Romantic Comedies You’ll Fall in Love With

It was actually Ty’s idea to embark on a quest to find good quality romantic comedies. So we’ve been watching one romantic comedy just about every night since the new year.

Our little project doesn’t come close to this doctoral research, but we did find some amazing little gems.

We started out with two criteria*:

  1. The female lead must take an active role in solving her own problems, i.e. not wait around for a man to swoop in and save the day
  2. The male lead must not be a stereotypical chauvinist, for example his interests must extend beyond eating steak and watching porn (sorry, Don Jon)

It’s no Bechdel Test, but it helped us weed out the ridiculous movies.

Here are the 12 films we loved most.

12 Romantic Comedies for Women Who Kick AssPhoto by Jamie Solorio

By the way, Ty was an active participant in the process and endorses every one of these movies too. While I can’t promise all guys will like them, maybe a little social proof will help you out if you’re trying to convince your guy to sit down for a chick flick. Feel free to refer to me as “my friend from work” or “an old friend of mine” or “this totally awesome blogger I follow.” Whatever works for you.

I saved the best one for last. If you watch nothing else from the list, please please please watch that one.

* Our research was focused on hetero rom coms, so although I’m sure there are some sweet, funny LGBT love stories out there, they aren’t in this particular roundup.

1. The American President

This is one of Ty’s all-time favorite movies, so he was happy for the excuse to watch it again.

  • What It’s About: The President, a widower, is up for re-election when he crosses paths with an environmental lobbyist named Sydney Wade. They are immediately drawn to each other, but her high expectations of the President don’t exactly align with his political goals.
  • Why We Loved It: So many snarky one-liners! Plus, when the President’s all “it’s just business, baby,” Sydney’s all “to hell it is, assface.”
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

2. Pitch Perfect

  • What It’s About: At her dad’s urging, Beca heads off to college when all she really wants to do is get started on her career producing music. When her dad notices she’s going through the motions, he makes her join a club – an a cappella club. Then she meets Jesse, who makes it awfully hard to act like she doesn’t care about anything.
  • Why We Loved It: The music, the laughs, it’s all just aca-awesome. Plus, it has two of my girl crushes in it – Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

3. Definitely, Maybe

  • What It’s About: Will just got a divorce, and his 10-year-old daughter Maya is none too happy about her parents splitting up. She drills her dad about his love life and how he ended up with her mom in the first place. As Will tells the story of all his previous loves, he realizes who the love of his life is.
  • Why We Loved It: An honest but sweet movie about life after divorce.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

4. Going the Distance

  • What It’s About: One night in New York City, Journalist student Erin meets record company lackey Garrett, and sparks fly. The problem? Erin’s leaving in six weeks to go back to school. Can they make a long-distance relationship work?
  • Why We Loved It: It’s refreshing to see real life compromise presented on the big screen, instead of the woman just automatically giving up everything to follow the man.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

5. (500) Days of Summer

  • What It’s About: One day at work, Tom sees Summer, the new administrative assistant – and it’s love at first sight…for Tom. Summer, however, doesn’t believe in all that true love poppycock.
  • Why We Loved It: This one makes you think twice about what true love really is. And another girl crush, Zooey!
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

6. Bridesmaids

  • What It’s About: Annie’s hit rock bottom – she lost her business and her boyfriend, and she’s dating a jerk. When her friend Lillian gets engaged and asks Annie to be her maid of honor, she has to put on a happy face and pretend to have it all under control.
  • Why We Loved It: You may not think of this as a romantic comedy. But considering most women I know have struggled with dating guys who treat them like crap, I love how this movie tackles the idea.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

7. Leap Year

  • What It’s About: Anna’s been dating Jeremy for several years, but he has yet to pop the question. Jeremy heads to Ireland for business, and as soon as he leaves Anna is reminded of an old Irish tradition. A man who receives a marriage proposal on Leap Day must accept it. So Anna hops on a plane to chase after Jeremy.
  • Why We Loved It: If you’re a control freak like me, this movie is good therapy. And the gorgeous scenery will make you want to drop the kids off with grandma and hightail it to Ireland.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

8. In a World…

  • What It’s About: Carol is a voice coach struggling to make a name for herself in the field of movie trailer voice-overs. Her father just so happens to be the reigning king of trailer voice-overs, but he doesn’t believe a woman can break into the business, let alone his daughter.
  • Why We Loved It: Super cute and funny and fresh. I also loved how the people were normal looking and not impossibly beautiful.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

9. Admission

  • What It’s About: Portia’s job as an admissions officer for Princeton is to sift through the thousands and thousands of applicants to find the best students. Then John calls. He’s the founder of an unconventional school, and he says he has the perfect student for Princeton. The only problem? He failed most of high school.
  • Why We Loved It: Tina Fey’s character takes a calculated professional risk, but NOT to impress the dude.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

10. Ruby Sparks

  • What It’s About: Calvin is a young novelist struggling with writer’s block after the tremendous success of his first novel. As a writing exercise, he creates the character of Ruby – the perfect girlfriend. Then one day he walks into his kitchen and finds Ruby, in the flesh.
  • Why We Loved It: What a weird little film. But so good! And funny too.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

11. Silver Linings Playbook

  • What It’s About: Pat lost his wife, his job, and his house, then served time in a state institution. Now he’s living with his parents and trying to rebuild his life, which revolves around getting his wife back. When Pat meets a mysterious girl with her own healthy dose of problems, they form a pact to help each other.
  • Why We Loved It: This one’s definitely not your typical romantic comedy. It’s brutally real in spots, but the dance scene clinches it for me.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

12. About Time

  • What It’s About: At the age of 21, Tim discovers a family secret: His father tells him the men in their family can travel back in time. Tim decides he’ll use his newfound power to get a girlfriend. But when he finally meets the love of his life Mary, a time-travel incident undoes their meeting and she doesn’t recognize him.
  • Why We Loved It: As the credits started rolling on the screen, I wanted to go back in time immediately and watch it again from the beginning. But it was after 11:00 pm on a school night, so I had to wait until the next night. (For the record, I loved it even more the second time.) This movie is so beautiful. It’s easily made the list of my all-time favorites.
  • Watch It: Amazon | iTunes

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Your Turn

What’s your favorite romantic comedy? Leave a comment to share!