The films of the romantic comedy genre are typically targeted at women, since love stories and romance and meet cutes and finding your soulmate are thought by Hollywood to be things that only women like, but that’s not the case. Men are looking for love and trying to find the perfect partner to spend the rest of their lives with, too. Men can identify with the struggles of relationships and how easily a union can crumble, too. And thanks to men who can both make their audiences laugh and make them fall in love, like Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow, we’ve been treated to some romantic comedies that can appeal to men. Here are the 10 best romcoms for men.
10. There’s Something About Mary
Before the Farrelly brothers came along with this smash hit starring Ben Stiller, you had to choose between lewd, grossout, politically incorrect slapstick humor and a love story. You couldn’t have both. But then they came along with this hilarious, outrageous comedy that also had a love story at its core. Stiller plays just one of several men who have become obsessed with Cameron Diaz’s character Mary, who is ostensibly the perfect woman. The private eye that Stiller hires to track her down falls in love with her. Stiller’s best friend falls in love with her. A guy pretending to be disabled has fallen in love with her. The funny thing is that Stiller’s character is far from the weirdest guy who’s in love with her, but he’s not exactly the man of her dreams either. And that’s exactly what makes his relatable. He’s in the middle. He’s a normal guy. He’s just like us. From the moment that Stiller gets his balls stuck in his zipper, you know you’re in for hilarious treat. If the problem with a lot of romantic comedies is that they simply aren’t that funny, then this one proves that they can and be – in spades.
9. The Wedding Singer
Having a wedding singer as a protagonist is a brilliant setup for a romantic comedy movie. There’s a beautiful irony there: their job is literally to celebrate the union of two people who have found love together, and yet as the protagonist of a romantic comedy movie, they can’t seem to find love themselves. In this one, Adam Sandler’s wedding singer character falls for a waitress played by Drew Barrymore who is about to marry another guy who is an absolute jerk. As with all great screenplays, there is a lot of conflict along the way. It’s infuriating at times, because you know that these two people belong together and yet things just keep getting in the way, but it also makes for a riveting moviegoing experience. And all of that would be useless in a comedy movie without laughs, but don’t you worry, there are plenty of laughs. Still to this day, this stands as one of Sandler’s funniest movies. Okay, it might be a little sappy or a little schmaltzy, but at the end of the day, it is a sweet and funny movie whose tone isn’t cynical, and if you’re not cynical, then you’ll definitely enjoy it.
8. Chasing Amy
Kevin Smith has a brilliant way of making wacky, hilarious, idiosyncratic comedy movies that play on real emotions without sacrificing any laughs. No matter how high concept his movies are – whether it is an indictment of Christianity or the tale of two friends who make a porno to pay the rent – he never fails to tell a beautiful human story in any of his films. Arguably his finest work is his third movie as a director, which was the first time that he went really deep and raw with the emotional side of things. The premise sounds pretty high concept: a guy falls in love with a girl who turns out to be a lesbian. But while it sounds like a dumb, inept, crass, gross out comedy, it actually toys with a lot of real issues. Sexuality isn’t just a punchline in the movie’s premise – it is explored in some depth. The movie also explores jealousy in romantic relationships and the tragedy of breakups. Time Out’s critic wrote that this movie “does to romantic comedy what Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man did to superhero comics in the ‘60s: It makes a tired genre newly relevant by giving its characters motivations and problems that seem real.”
7. Knocked Up
This was an interesting movie, because its writer and director Judd Apatow took a lot of the elements of its script from his own life at different times. The story of Seth Rogen getting Katherine Heigl pregnant during a one night stand came from when Apatow impregnated his now wife Leslie Mann with their first kid. But Leslie Mann is in the movie, too, as are her and Apatow’s daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow. Mann plays Heigl’s sister whose guest house she lives in, the girls play her daughters, and Paul Rudd plays her husband Pete, the girls’ father, a music executive. Rudd and Mann’s story represents Apatow’s life when he made the movie – he had a successful career and a wife and two kids. So, the movie is basically Apatow imagining a world where old Apatow was around to give young Apatow advice. This is far from a formulaic Hollywood romantic comedy movie. It does play around with some lofty, lovey dovey emotions, but they are all emotions that both men and women can relate to. The characters are real, rounded, three dimensional people, and that’s all thanks to Apatow accessing some painful memories to tell a story that rang true.
6. Shaun of the Dead
The reason why a lot of guys would enjoy this romantic comedy is that it also contains a zombie apocalypse. There is a love story involved, as a man is dumped by his girlfriend and then has to do some soul searching and some romantic gestures in order to win her back, but there is also an infestation of the undead going on in the background. The movie’s writers, Simon Pegg (who also stars) and Edgar Wright (who also directs), always intended for this movie to be a romantic comedy that just happened to have zombies in it. That was the tone and narrative that they were going for. According to Wright, the romantic comedy elements of the script came later in its development, as he and Pegg’s love of zombie movies and video games had “sort of sparked the idea of what would we do in that crisis, or how would we react if there was a zombie in our backyard on a Sunday morning…and we had a hangover, and didn’t have a shotgun. So, it sort of became a kind of ‘What if?’ thing, and later came the idea of cross breeding the romantic comedy and zombie film. Initially, the joke was that Britain’s main export in films is the romantic comedy, so we thought it would be funny to do a romantic comedy where most of the guys die at the end – which is what you want to see, really…apart from Bill Nighy.”
Spike Lee has criticized Eddie Murphy for not using his status as a super star to bring more opportunities to black people in the film industry. But that’s crazy, because Murphy always fills his movies with an all black cast and hires black crew members to work on them. This movie is a prime example, as there isn’t a white face in sight. It’s a great cast, too: Martin Lawrence, Halle Berry, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt, Chris Rock. The movie also has a lot to say about African American representation in movies. Director Reginald Hudlin has spoken about the importance of Murphy’s character in the movie and how he is different from the stereotypical black characters that you generally see in movies: “So, typically, when it comes to black characters, either you have to be a successful, smart business person, or you’re hip, but you’re never both. And one of the reasons why the movie has had such enduring popularity is because the character is both. He’s much more in the Cary Grant mode of business person.” This isn’t just a great romantic comedy movie with a compelling love story and plenty of conflict and well rounded characters – it is also an important film for black representation.
4. When Harry Met Sally…
Meg Ryan is known typically for her romantic comedy movie pairings with Tom Hanks, but this one, directed by Rob Reiner, actually paired her with Billy Crystal instead – and it’s one of the greatest romcoms ever made, both for male and female audiences. This movie isn’t sappy, but it does feature one of the greatest romantic monologues of all time. At the climax of the movie, Crystal tells Ryan (well, Harry tells Sally, really), “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” We can all relate to that.
3. Groundhog Day
This movie has one of the most brilliantly crafted screenplays ever written, and a lot of its gags rank among the funniest in the history of film comedy, but above all, it is a beautiful love story told in the most unique way possible. As Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again, he realizes that he is in love with Andie MacDowell and uses his ability to keep retrying the day to his advantage in his attempts to woo her. He can take a few months out to learn the piano to impress her, and if he says something stupid and regrettable during their date that ruins it (like calling her choice of college course a “waste of time”), then he can go back the next day and try again. Over the course of this movie, what you think is just a wacky high concept premise becomes the perfect tool to kick off the protagonist’s character development. He’s been a selfish jerk and it takes getting stuck in a time loop for him to realize that he actually has a soft spot and he actually knows his soulmate and needs to win her over. It’s a brilliant movie.
2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
In the opening scene of this movie, Jason Segel offers us full frontal nudity. It’s a perfect metaphor for what he was doing with his debut screenplay. He wrote a movie that bares his heart to the audience. The movie tells the story of a musician whose girlfriend dumps him, and then when he goes to Hawaii to get over the breakup, she’s there with her new rock star boyfriend, and then he falls in love with the hotel receptionist. The way that the movie depicts the despair that you feel after a breakup and how you realize that your ex actually wasn’t as great as you remember and how you move on are all just spot on. When the romantic elements of the story start to get you down, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill and Bill Hader are there to bring the belly laughs in their supporting roles. Judd Apatow has never failed to bring us romcoms that are actually funny and are about characters and relationships that feel real. He has also brought us a ton that tell both the male and female sides of things in an interesting and relatable way. This one might be the finest example of that.
1. Annie Hall
This is not your average romcom. It opens with Woody Allen, the film’s star and also director and writer, telling the audience directly that he has just broken up with the titular lass. What follows is not a meet cute and two people falling in love and then living happily ever after. Rather, it’s a deconstruction of a failed relationship. We’ve all done that. We’ve all gone back and analyzed a relationship after a bad breakup to see where it all went wrong. It’s almost an anti romcom, but the message at the end is not against the idea of love. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. It’s summed up perfectly in a joke that Allen ends the movie on: “Some of us just need the eggs.” It’s one of the greatest movies ever made, verifiably. It beat a certain space opera written and directed by George Lucas to the Best Picture award at the Oscars back in 1978. This a big school romantic comedy. Since it’s told from the man’s perspective, it’s a great one for men to enjoy. The male neuroses and problems in relationship are rarely explored in romantic comedies. Trust Woody Allen, the king of introspection and self analysis, to be the one to pull it off.