Let me just get this out of the way: I’ve watched a disturbing amount of romantic comedies in my lifetime.
I don’t want to call it an obsession, but whenever it’s time for Netflix to update its movie lineup, I watch for new rom-coms like I’m hunting prey. I’ve watched ones with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 30%. I’ve watched terrible ones because an actor or actress I love is in it. I’ve watched “Tall Girl.”
When you’re like me, and you’ve already knocked out all of the gods of the romantic comedy genre (you can only watch “Clueless” and “10 Things I Hate About You” and “13 Going on 30” so many times before a line has to be drawn), you have to turn your attention to the hidden gems of the rom-com universe.
I’m not saying these movies are of the highest quality. I’m not saying they aren’t ridiculous at times. What I can promise is a corny, mindless rom-com that will probably make you roll your eyes, but you’ll find yourself shamelessly watching it again at some point.
Here are four underrated rom-coms you should stream immediately:
Just Friends (Netflix)
The promise of Ryan Reynolds as the lead in a movie that also features Anna Faris in the most Anna Faris role of all time should be enough to sell you on the goofy, sarcastic big-city-guy-returns-to-small-hometown-and-rekindles-with-old-crush gem that is “Just Friends.”
The film follows Reynolds as once-dorky record producer Chris Brander, who moved to Los Angeles and became a hotshot after being rejected by his best friend and crush Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart) in high school.
When Chris winds up back in his hometown in New Jersey, he’s forced to face his childhood once again, including his feelings for Jamie. Oh, and Anna Faris is just there as overbearing pop-star Samantha James, who steals the show.
“Just Friends” is undoubtedly outlandish at times, but it’s full of enough sarcasm, wit and one-liners (mostly courtesy of the always-brilliant Reynolds) to make it worthwhile.
The best part? It’s basically a Christmas movie, so a win-win for everyone.
Letters to Juliet (Amazon Prime Video)
Of all of the corny movies on this list, this one is probably the corniest. A big part of the reason “Letters to Juliet” made it into this lineup in the first place is admittedly due to the nostalgia factor for me. I can’t help it; I watched my DVD copy of it until it gave out.
“Letters to Juliet” follows the too-good-to-be-true adventure of Sophie Hall (Amanda Seyfried), a fact-checker for the New York Times, while in Verona, Italy for a pre-honeymoon (yes, a pre-honeymoon) with her self-obsessed chef fiancé. Victor (Gael García Bernal).
When Sophie befriends a group of women who write responses to letters left for William Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet in Juliet’s courtyard, she discovers an unanswered letter from 1957. Sophie responds to the letter, and shortly after, is connected with its now-elderly author Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) and Claire’s grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan). What follows is a journey to find Claire’s long-lost love, Lorenzo.
“Letters to Juliet” is a predictable, eye-roll of a movie at times, but its dreamy Italian setting and central theme of true love makes it a feel-good movie you won’t be able to resist. It’s the kind of movie that’s perfect for those bad days where you just want something fluffy and idealistic to watch. Plus, who doesn’t love the queen Amanda Seyfried?
Always Be My Maybe (Netflix)
Netflix is usually hit-or-miss when it comes to original romantic comedies. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before?” A hit. “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser?” A miss. “The Kissing Booth?” A complete enigma that is either loved or hated (mostly hated by Jacob Elordi himself).
“Always Be My Maybe” is an underrated hit.
Based in San Francisco, the film follows childhood best friends Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park), who lose touch after a falling-out during their younger years. When Sasha, now a celebrity chef, returns to San Fransisco to open her latest restaurant, she accidentally reconnects with Marcus, a musician living with his father. What follows is a hilarious examination of friendship, valued relationships and the paths we choose for ourselves, as Sasha and Marcus are taken back to their childhood years.
Wong and Park are absolutely brilliant in this quirky, heartfelt Netflix original. While the film can feel over-the-top at times, it’s balanced out by meaningful moments that give it an air of nostalgia.
To top it off, the movie has the absolute best and most unexpected celebrity cameo of all time, so that should be enough to sell it.
Set It Up (Netflix)
Here it is: the pinnacle of underrated romantic comedies. My favorite movie on this list. An absolute masterpiece. A flawless Netflix original. The best Netflix original. It’s “Set It Up.”
“Set It Up” follows the story of two 20-something-year-old assistants, Harper Moore (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie Young (Glen Powell), as they navigate the demands of their overbearing bosses. Harper works for renowned sports editor, Kristen Stevens (played by Lucy Liu), while Charlie is an assistant to investor Rick Otis (Taye Diggs).
Tired of late nights at work and nonexistent personal lives, Harper and Charlie join forces to set up Kristen and Rick, hoping that the distraction of dating each other will give the assistants more free time. The result is chaos, in the best way possible.
I could write an entire thesis on why “Set It Up” is a brilliant romantic comedy in every sense of the word. The concept is completely original. The cast is perfect all around. The script is genius. Deutch and Powell have so much chemistry that Netflix is literally giving them the keys to another original romantic comedy.
“Set It Up” somehow delivers a movie that is sarcastic and quirky, but emotional and uplifting all at once. If you need an escape, watch it. If you need motivation, watch it. Either way, watch it. You won’t regret it.