Let’s face it: A good chunk of romantic comedies and dramas tend to be formulaic, fluffy and unrealistic. Entertaining? Sure. But after leaving the theater with a case of the warm and fuzzies, the feeling quickly fades once you realize the wonderful, linear way boy met girl and lost her and found her again just doesn’t happen in real life — and is replaced with nausea and panic.
While a screenwriter has yet to reach Nora Ephron’s level of charming originality in this genre, romantic movies are finally transforming into realistic portrayals of what it’s like to be a modern dater. Today, there’s only one rule: There are no rules.
1. That Awkward Moment
This bromantic comedy centers around best friends Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan). When Mikey’s girlfriend breaks up with him, the three make a pact to stay single in support of their heartbroken roomie — only, what feels like seconds after making the pact, Jason brings home Elle and Daniel starts bonding with Chelsea. The more they try to deny their commitments, the more complicated their love lives become — proving that you can make plans for your love life… just don’t expect to keep them.
2. What If
Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is burned out after a series of failed relationships when he meets and instantly connects with Chantry (Zoe Kazan) who’s committed to her live-in boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall). When Ben has to move to Europe for work, Wallace and Chantry become even closer. In classic When Harry Met Sally style, they tackle a modern spin on the age-old question: Can men and women be just friends?
3. Celeste and Jesse Forever
Another age-old question is tackled in this adorable rom-com: Can you stay friends with your ex? The story revolves around Celeste (Rashida Jones), a type-A marketing whiz and Jesse (Andy Samberg), a struggling and irresponsible artist. They’ve been best friends since the tenth grade, got married and are now trying to maintain their friendship while they divorce and start seeing other people. He wants to reconcile, she wants him to grow up. When Jesse does finally start seeing someone new, they struggle to figure out how to stay in each other’s lives. Awkward.
4. Enough Said
A divorced masseuse named Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is about to face empty nest syndrome when her teenage daughter heads off to college. She crosses paths with Albert (James Gandolfini), a fellow empty nester and a relationship starts to blossom — only, he’s the ex-husband of one of her clients, who thinks nothing of going off on tangents about him, causing Eva to question Albert’s place in her life. It’s an interesting and charming take on the role past baggage plays in present relationships.
Set in a slightly futuristic Los Angeles, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a complex loner who makes his living writing love letters for other people. After his last relationship leaves him completely heartbroken, he ends up falling in love with Samantha… an advanced operating system. It’s not only a unique (yet eerily accurate) take on where our relationship with technology is heading, but our love lives too. I do have to say though, if Johnny Depp was the voice of Him, you’re damn straight I’d marry my computer.