Many comedies add on a romance, and many romances throw in some comedy. Finding that delicate balance of both becomes the challenge of creating a great romantic comedy.
Failed Romantic Comedy Sequels
Some of the rare movies that manage this unique – seemingly spontaneous – mixture of sexual and comedic chemistry receive such attention and acclaim that their filmmakers then take it a step too far by attempting to recreate the magic with a sequel.
Nearly always doomed to fail, these sequels (such as the one for Bridget Jones’s Diary) can’t continue the same level of romance and comedy achieved in the original. Failed sequels actually diminish the quality of the original, as well, when audiences average the two films together.
Romantic Comedies Mixed With Other Genres
Movies that combine genres, such as romantic comedy/action or romantic comedy/fantasy, take on an additional challenge because these films need to be evaluated on additional levels. Is it romantic, is it funny, and do the action sequences seem realistic? Is it romantic, is it funny, and is the fantasy fresh and original or derivative of other movies?
Romantic comedy can be mixed with horror, suspense, westerns, science fiction, musicals, heist movies, and many other genres. If filmmakers aren’t careful, then the romantic chemistry is generally the first thing to get lost in all the confusion.
Idealized Romantic Movie Leads
Despite the fact that Woody Allen (Annie Hall), Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally), and Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer) played romantic leads in extraordinarily funny romantic comedies, they aren’t the standard leading men in terms of physical appearance.
In previous generations, leading men were tall, strong, and traditionally handsome with firm convictions, physical dominance, and overt charisma. Today’s romantic leads often have obvious weaknesses, such as commitment phobia (Hugh Grant in Notting Hill), clumsiness (Ben Stiller in There’s Something About Mary), and physical imperfections (Steve Martin in Roxanne).
On the other hand, idealized leading ladies haven’t changed that much. Goldie Hawn, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, and other popular actresses from the past few decades epitomize the beautiful and charming girls-next-door who never actually live next door.
The Greatest Romantic Comedies
In a perfect world of love and laugher, the greatest romantic comedies devote themselves exclusively to those two subjects: romance and comedy. The filmmakers associated with great romantic comedy hits realize that the magic cannot be recreated through a lame series of sequels, especially when the writers, actors, and other creative personnel have been replaced. Other genres stay out of the mix, unless they equally balance the creative triad.
In addition, the best romantic comedy films provide idealized romantic leads (either through talent, intellect, or appearance), consistent humor throughout (often laugh-out-loud), and plenty of magic romantic movie moments unique to that particular film.