February is a great time to surround yourself with love, love of your partner, your friends, or just love of … well, love! From sappy to funny here are a list of eight romantic comedies that can perfectly cap off your February.
1. “13 Going on 30” (2004)
I don’t want to overuse the term cinematic masterpiece, but Jennifer Garner’s loveable performance in this fun, coming-of-age romantic comedy is a perfect place to begin when marathoning any sort of movie. Wrapped in reminiscence and tied with a bow, “13 Going on 30” centers around 13-year-old Jenna Rink and her magical adventure into adulthood.
The film does what many films have tried and failed to do by effectively evoking undeniable nostalgia with 13 different ‘80s songs playing throughout the movie. This feel-good film featuring Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer and Andy Serkis reminds audiences that growing up doesn’t have to mean losing yourself. Unlike many movies, “13 Going on 30” never loses itself within the nostalgia, while telling the hilarious and important story of learning to love yourself and what you want, not what others want from you.
2. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018)
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” based on the book of the same name, tells the endearing story of romance-fanatic Lara Jean. She may seem shy, but behind those oversized sweaters and nervous attitude, she is filled with emotion and has a lot of love to give. In fact, Lara has so much love to give she has written her feelings out to every crush she’s ever had — secret letters, of course, to all the boys she’s loved before.
After Lara Jean’s sister, Margot, moves away for college, she begins to explore high school without her older sister and finds herself crushing on a new boy. Everything seems to go normally, until Lara Jean goes home and realizes her love letters are gone, and worse, they’ve been sent to her crushes. The sweet story is wonderfully portrayed with the hilarious Lara Condor and the cast’s genuine representation of family and friends coming together in the name of love.
3. “Love, Simon” (2018)
For a time, it seemed the teen rom com was dead until films like “Love, Simon” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” redefined the niche genre with more diverse protagonists and sincere messages. “Love, Simon” tells the story of Simon Spier, who assures viewers he is just like them except for the one secret he has kept from everyone else: He’s gay. This movie is not just about finding love; it’s about giving love — most importantly, giving yourself love.
As a formerly closeted teenager myself, seeing someone like me as the love interest of a film was not a new experience, but it was still a great one. The rising fear that follows Simon around separates him from his classmates until one day an anonymous message from the school’s social media page reveals there is another closeted teen at his high school, and the two begin talking. What follows is an emotional, funny and genuine portrayal of coming to terms with being LGBT while looking for love. “Love, Simon” has all of the heart it advertises, and I can honestly say it stole a part of my heart too.
4. “When Harry Met Sally” (1989)
At the risk of sounding like an ‘80’s nostalgic myself, “When Harry Met Sally” is a staple in the romance genre. The writing is smart, funny and well-paced with a slowly developing relationship between our love interests, Sally Allbright and Harry Burns. The all-star cast of Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby creates hilarious chaos with everything from bad double dates to fake orgasms to dancing under fireworks. Humor aside, the film incorporates genuine emotion, for example, by incorporating the real stories of married couples and how they met into the film.
Unlike other rom coms, Harry and Sally don’t get together until years after first meeting each other. The movie shows audiences you don’t fall in love in an instant, but over a series of hundreds of small moments. Love is rarely revealed in the opening scenes of a movie, but once you find it you will know. Like Harry says, “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.”
5. “The Princess Diaries” (2001)
How could I discuss movies about finding yourself and finding love without mentioning this classic? Now, as this is one of my favorite movies of all time I may be biased. However, Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of the kind, goofy, awkward teenager Mia Thermopalis is one that holds a special place in all of our hearts. Mia leads a somewhat boring life, stumbling in her school-mandated shoes, squeaks and stares at the most popular guy in class, is made fun of by the popular girls and gets sick while attempting to make public speeches. While she isn’t thrilled with this life, she isn’t concerned with changing it.
When her grandmother (Julie Andrews) comes to visit all the way from Genovia, Mia even says, “My expectation in life is to be invisible, and I’m good at it.” The simple life of an awkward teenager is turned upside down when her grandmother informs her that she is not just Mia Thermopalis, but Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldi, Princess of Genovia.
While attempting to understand the responsibilities of a princess and deciding if she even wants the title, Mia realizes what makes a person special isn’t a crown on their head, but how they treat others. Michael, her best friend’s brother who is head-over-heels for her, and Mia continued to dance around one another, literally and figuratively, throughout the movie. Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Heather Matarazzo, Héctor Elizondo, Mandy Moore, Sandra Oh and more bring a witty story to life in this coming-of-age film.
6. “27 Dresses” (2008)
Are you ever excited by a holiday, a party, or an event, but are so busy planning it you never get to put your feet up and enjoy the day? Say hello to Katherine Heigl as Jane Nichols, the perky, always busy maid-of-honor to seemingly every female friend she has. In fact, Jane has been a bridesmaid in 27 different weddings and frankly, she’s tired of it.
When Jane thinks she has finally found the one for her, the kind, handsome George, her sister steps in and everything changes in front of Jane’s eyes. “27 Dresses” tells audiences you can arrange love for others, you can host parties, be the bridesmaid to every wedding, but that still doesn’t mean you can plan love. This cute romantic comedy is one of the most genre-based selections in this list. Katherine Heigl and James Marsden have undeniable chemistry in this movie and their banter will make you laugh out loud.
7. “Nappily Ever After” (2018)
“Nappily Ever After” is the film in this list that discusses self-love the most. The Netflix original tells the story of a young, black woman named Violet. While she is hardworking, this woman is more than just a busy bee. Violet is obsessed with being perfect in her career, her relationship and with her hair. This movie specifically identifies pressures black women live with and I believe it has a great message about believing in yourself and blocking out sources of negativity in your life. Violet’s mother and her boyfriend want her to change, but neither of them want her to change for her.
They want her to grow her hair longer, get a new wig, be more emotional, be less emotional, be more available, but be aloof. They rarely ask how she feels about the situation and belittle her when she tries to find herself outside of the harsh lines they’ve drawn throughout her life. But when Violet’s hair is cut too short at the salon, she has to learn to accept her natural hair and put away the wigs.
Violet spends most of the film focusing on how best to express herself while still being herself and not limiting herself to the idea of being perfect. This movie is perfect for February for Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. It’s an inspiring message to black women to be true to themselves, telling them that they can express their voice and beauty however they choose because they are beautiful in any form.
8. “Hairspray” (2007)
This fun, catchy musical is set in 1960s Baltimore following Tracy Turnblad’s (Nikki Blonsky) successful audition for the famous dancing TV show “The Corny Collin’s Show.” When Tracy is cast to dance with the other teens (dubbed “The Nicest Kids in Town”) on live television, she hopes to meet her crush, Link (Zach Efron), and impress him with her cool dance moves. Tracy starts the film as a dance-loving, quirky girl, but she learns a new dance style from her friend Seaweed.
While Seaweed is a great dancer, he is only allowed to dance on TV once a month with the other black dancers. “The Nicest Kids in Town” aren’t as nice as they seem, and Tracy realizes she must use her spot on the show to integrate it. Her heart inspires other characters such as Link and Corny of “The Corny Collin’s Show.” The musical-based movie is filled with toe-tapping songs and great dancing with performances from celebrities including Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden, Amanda Bynes, Brittany Snow and Christopher Walken. This film covers real experiences in the lives of African Americans, and the importance of love and respect in all communities.