In the second installment of our month-long extended playlist series, we shared some of our favorite romantic comedies to watch over the holidays.
When you think of what children’s Christmas movies are really about – elaborate holiday fantasies about befriending Santa, visiting the North Pole, and getting the ultimate present – it’s a wonder that any kids like them at all. Real life never matches up.
You could say the same thing about holiday rom coms. I don’t know why I love watching attractive people fall head-over-heels in love (right in time for Christmas!) while sporting designer wardrobes. I could die alone in clothes from Target, but that won’t stop me from loving a good Christmas rom com. If you love rom coms too, make some time between now and 12/25 to see these
three ten ‘ships come sailing in.
What’s a Christmas movie list without Love Actually? Shit – is what it is. I remember going to see this with some friends in high school (at the theater Molly used to work at!) and immediately loving it about 10 minutes in. I was enamored with Christmas in London, hot Karl, Jamie and Aurelia’s unspoken love story, ‘Ifyou real-ly love Christtt-mas’ charming Prime Minister Hugh Grant, pre-fame Chiwetel Ejiofor & January Jones, everything about Emma Thompson, SAM – all of it. I bought the soundtrack and played it on repeat, even when it wasn’t Christmas. Needless to say, it’s not only one of my favorite Holiday RomComs, but all time movies in general. Besides Crash, Richard Curtis brought the intersecting storylines way of filmmaking into the the 2000s, and it’s been an influence on movies ever since.
When Harry Met Sally…
When Harry Met Sally doesn’t entirely take place over the holidays, but a chunk of it does, and of course the end at New Year’s Eve, so I’m counting it. If you’ve read my previous post about this film, you’ll know that I was a late bloomer to this amazing movie, but I’m all in now. WHMS is a reminder that New York at Christmastime is a magical beautiful place – and then you snap back into reality watching Sally try to haul a Christmas tree by herself in the snow down the street. But all of it, the good and the bad, is a reminder why RomComs like this are the perfect thing to watch at the holidays. They make you laugh, make you cry, make you all tingly inside knowing that the season isn’t just about the trees and the snow and the presents – it’s about being around the people you love.
The Holiday is one of my top two Christmas rom coms (it sort of shares first place with Love Actually). It has everything I could want in a Christmas movie: aspirational real estate (both the California mansion and the Cotswolds cottage), just-as-aspirational hair and wardrobe, precocious English tots, a kindly old man, and Jude Law right in the middle of what will someday be remembered as his golden era. Sure, it does fall into the romcom trope of everyone thinking the obviously pretty and charismatic Kate Winslet is some sort of sad sack, but – spoiler! it turns out she’s leading lady material after all. With Jack Black and Cameron Diaz rounding out the main cast, the Holiday is the perfect balance of rom and com.
As with regular-season rom coms, it’s important not to disregard the classics at Christmas. This musical (come on, you knew there would be a musical!) follows a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family. However, the film ends at Christmas time, and is the origin of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. To be honest, I never would have bothered with this movie if (1) I weren’t in the play in 8th grade, and (2) it didn’t star Judy Garland while she was still … doing well. But it’s worth watching if you like musicals, holiday cheer, and one of the most talented performers of a generation.
When Harry Met Sally was released 25 years ago, and it’s main themes are still relevant to this day. But there’s gotta be some outdated things in there, right?
Last month, I went to an outdoor screening of When Harry Met Sally. And believe it or not – it was my first time EVER seeing the movie. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. I kind of have a pop culture blind spot to a lot of classic films (I’m more of a TV person, if you couldn’t tell), and this is one of them. It’s particularly odd when I tell people this, because some of my favorite movies are of the rom-com genre, like Love Actually and Notting Hill #NoShame So going into my first viewing of WHMS, I had an inkling I would like it – I just didn’t realize I would like it THAT much. I couldn’t stop talking about it and thinking about it. I even looked up how much it would be on Amazon that same night. There are so many reasons why I enjoyed it, but I finally realized after viewing it why it had become such an important film in movie history – the story is timeless. At its core, WHMS is a movie questioning whether or not men and women can stay friends and never turn into lovers. That wasn’t just a problem in the 1980s, but it’s obviously still a question that’s asked today. And despite the fact WHMS is timeless, it’s not entirely “timeless”, as in, it’s been 25 years (to this day) since it was released, and there are still things that change over time. So here’s a few pros and cons I noted while watching this iconic movie for the very first time.
PRO: A youthful Meg Ryan
I think the first movie I ever saw Meg Ryan in was Sleepless in Seattle, which was made only four years after WHMS. But I don’t remember her ever looking as young as she did in this movie. I mean look at the youth! Look at the glow! She’s practically a baby acting out adult themes! It’s amazing that we can forever look back at this movie and seen the exact moment when she became a bonafide movie star.
CON: Meg Ryan’s face now
Well. Here she is. This picture was taken in April. Now 53, Meg is… still sporting a cute blonde ‘do.
PRO: Being grateful of escaping 80s fashion
Really, the fashion in this movie is the only thing that makes it distinguishable as a movie made in 1989, as opposed to present day. The script could be set in 2014, and nothing would have to be changed. Except for like the Rolodex and the phones. And especially the clothes. There are some scenes that scream 80s, including this one which features Meg Ryan wearing a stunning green velour dress with protruding shoulderpads as she serves as the maid of honor for her best friend’s wedding. Velour tho.
CON: Realizing that some of that 80s fashion is actually back in style
Could’ve sworn I saw a hipster wearing this same outfit in Silver Lake recently.
PRO: Understanding post-college life
Oh man. I so relate to this quote. I wouldn’t have been able to *get it* if I had watched it before. Even as a teenager I wouldn’t have completely understood.
“I’m 26 years old and I can’t even remember the name of the girl I was such good friends with that I wouldn’t even get involved with her boyfriend!”
CON: Self-realization of post-college life
Ugh. I’m 28. I graduated high school 10 years ago and I’m already starting to forget people I went to college with. Just put me in a senior living community now.
PRO: Still feeling hopeful for a love that lasts a lifetime
But how cute are these couples. Fun fact: the couples are telling real stories. Director Rob Reiner got the idea when he was talking to his producing friend’s dad and said, “Mr. Horn, how did you meet your wife?” Mr. Horn lit up and told Rob his story. And Mr. Horn is actually the very first guy featured in the set of interviews alongside his wife. *swoon*
CON: Wondering where the old couples are now
Okay sorry to be the downer here, but like, this movie was made 25 years ago, right? And these cute couples are old. Like they had already been married for about 50 years, old. I’m not (completely) delusional to realize that some of these folks might not be with us anymore and that makes me really sad.
PRO: The movie is a reminder Christmas in NYC is magical
New York City is the third biggest character in this movie. It should be When Harry Met Sally and We Met New York. Rob Reiner did a fantastic job of using the city as much as he could, making it look like a dream world where anything is possible – including love. The scenes that particularly hit me at the core were the ones during Christmas. Christmas is my favorite and even though I live in Los Angeles, I still yearn for White Christmases. When Harry and Sally are carrying that tree and establishing shots are shown of snow-covered landmarks in NY, it gives me all the warm and fuzzies.
CON: And then my dreams are dashed
Then I remember what living with freezing temps and bundling up in five+ layers and never-ending snow is like and I’m over it.
PRO: Appreciating the greatness that is Nora Ephron
I apologize for being such a bad comedy/writer nerd that I had no idea just how GOOD Nora Ephron’s writing was in this movie. Yes, the actors gave great performances and excellent delivery on lines that were just written on paper, but the way Nora Ephron writes is pure genius. She’s not just writing a script, she’s telling a story. It’s as if Harry Burns and Sally Albright are real life people, and Nora just transcribed their day to day conversations. Plus, her writing is smart and sentimental – it’s no wonder why so many movies and TV shows have followed in the same vain as WHMS – because it works.
PRO/CON: Retroactively having a crush on Billy Crystal
I’d like to think there’s a majority of people in my generation that associate Billy Crystal with SNL or Analyze This or City Slickers or the guy who hosts the Oscars a lot. We don’t necessarily think of him as the lead in a romantic comedy. So color me super surprised when I found myself crushing (?) on Billy Crystal (?!) throughout this movie!! He’s not even like, textbook Zefron handsome, but he’s funny and charming and boy is he in love with Sally. A man head over heels in love is worth swooning for.