This decade’s most underappreciated romantic comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love, deserves more recognition. Director Glenn Ficarra and actor Steve Carrel star as a recently divorced man and pick-up artist Jacob Palmer, played by Ryan Gosling, respectively, in the film. Kevin Bacon’s role as the new boyfriend of his ex-wife doesn’t help matters either. Crazy, Stupid, Love reinforces the notion that love is more fulfilling than lust, particularly as it develops between Jacob and Emma Stone’s Hannah. Following suit, here are 10 films that are similar to the original.
1. Definitely, Maybe
This is followed by What I Met Your Mother Would Look Like If It Were 100 Minutes in Length and What I Met Your Mother Is 100 Minutes in Length. Ryan Reynolds plays Will Hayes, a recently divorced father whose daughter (Abigail Breslin, from Little Miss Sunshine) asks him about his romantic past before he met his ex-wife. Reynolds effortlessly charms in the role. With his daughter trying to figure out which of Will’s three long-term relationships would lead to a child, the film chronicles Will’s love life over the years.
To help Will find love, the rest of the cast includes actresses like Isabela Moner, Rachel Weisz and Elizabeth Banks. In Definitely, Maybe, the happy ending happened before Will tells his daughter’s story in the present day. As a result, clichés will have less of an opportunity to be used, and viewers will have more time to observe these relationships develop organically.
2. No Strings Attached/ Friends with Benefits
Even though the plots of these two films diverge, they’re similar enough that you’re free to choose which one you want to see instead. Keep your distance from No Strings Attached if you dislike Natalie Portman or Ashton Kutcher (he’ll have more detractors than her, no doubt). It’s a shame because Friends with Benefits is a superior film in every way.
The chemistry between Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake is stronger, the script is more focused, and the director, Will Gluck, previously directed the hilarious comedy Easy A. It’s not meant as a jab at No Strings Attached, but the performances and humor fall flat, which detracts from the overall experience. You may be interested to know that Roger Ebert preferred Friends with Benefits if you’re still debating which film to see.
3. La La Land
But the film’s most notable accomplishment is the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Like Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday in the modern era, Stone and Gosling have chemistry that could only be achieved through a remake of Howard Hawks’ masterpiece. The two would go on to appear together in two more films, including La La Land, as a result of this successful dynamic.
This was Emma Stone’s first Oscar win for best supporting actress in a film. If you haven’t seen it, the premise of La La Land is as follows. Gosling and Stone develop a romantic relationship while dancing to a variety of catchy tunes. As a result, their relationship is put under stress because they both have high aspirations in the creative industries. It’s a sad film, but it’s well worth seeing again.
4. The Nice Guys
With the inclusion of this underrated action thriller, the pace and genre have been changed. Because of Ryan Gosling and his impeccable comic timing, The Nice Guys has been lumped in with films like Crazy Stupid Love. In this brilliantly subversive crime caper, critics raved about Ryan Gosling’s comedic chops after growing tired of his reserved performances in Drive, Only God Forgives, and Blade Runner 2049, the most recent of which was released in 2017.
Gosling is one half of a team of PIs tasked with finding a missing girl who may have incriminating evidence that could have ramifications for the city of Los Angeles’s leadership. There isn’t much of a story here; the focus is on the numerous scenes of comic violence (which has far more of an impact than standard cinematic violence), the brilliant central pair, and director Shane Black’s obvious joy in making the most outlandish picture possible.
5. Going the Distance
The romantic comedy actress Drew Barrymore was well-known before she started eating human flesh on Netflix’s Santa Clara Diet. Her most recent number one single was 2010’s Going the Distance, which featured Justin Long as her co-star. Barrymore and Long star as Erin and Garret, a couple who fall in love too quickly just as Erin is about to leave town. Long-distance relationships have their share of pitfalls, and while Going the Distance doesn’t reinvent the wheel, its cast is compelling enough to get you through the film’s more trying moments.
Even though Drew Barrymore and Justin Long are fantastic, Christina Applegate’s performance as Erin’s overbearing sister steals the show. The inclusion of The Boxer Rebellion’s music, which not only creates a romantic atmosphere but also reminds you of their last time you listened to them in 2010, is another highlight of the film. Do you think you’re getting on in years? That’s something I’m certain of.
6. 500 Days of Summer
The romantic comedy film 500 Days of Summer is frequently misunderstood because of its setting in the summer. Films like Crazy Stupid Love and 500 Days of Summer are important because they challenge audiences and filmmakers alike by dismantling cliches and conventions.
Even though many people still think Zooey Deschanel is a dreck, the movie makes the smart choice to humanize her by showing that Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) was projecting his ideal woman onto her. Despite the enjoyment he has while picking up women, Steve Carrel’s character in Crazy Stupid Love experiences the same thing after his wife leaves. The best contemporary romantic comedies know enough about the genre to defy its conventions. That’s exactly what the film 500 Days of Summer did with its audience members.
7. One Day
An adaptation of David Nichols’ widely acclaimed novel, One Day stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess as Emma Morely and Dexter Mayhew, two college friends whose romance develops in fits and starts over the years. The movie, like the novel, is divided into sections: one day of every year, as they get closer together….
While the film adaptation of One Day doesn’t perfectly capture the magic of the book, the structure and performances are intriguing enough, even if Hathaway’s English accent is so bad that fans of the book would have preferred it if Heather was American. As with each subsequent get-together, One Day’s episodic nature engages the viewer to try and fill in the gaps before the film does: for example, why are they cold towards each other when the last scene ended on a positive note?
8. Silver Linings Playbook
Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress, Silver Linings Playbook isn’t your typical romantic comedy. In a career-best performance, Bradley Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a former teacher who was hospitalized after attacking the man his wife was sleeping with and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
The only Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany Maxwell, Pat’s ex-girlfriend who forces him to return to his hometown and try to put his life back together after their breakup. To the extent that a Hollywood romantic comedy can de-mystify mental health problems, Silver Linings Playbook has a lot to offer. As Pat’s father, Robert De Niro gives one of his best performances in years. In terms of emotional heft, this is De Niro at his most mature in years.
9. Obvious Child
Remember, Obvious Child isn’t your typical romantic comedy, so please be patient with me. In the film industry, Obvious Child is jokingly referred to as an abortion comedy because it was written and directed by Gillian Robespierre (who adapted her short film of the same name). A drunken night with Jake Lacy’s Max results in Donna Stern becoming pregnant, and Jenny Slate plays her. Obvious Child is unique in that it doesn’t follow the same path as other films of a similar nature. That’s brilliant because it takes a left turn that seems obvious once you get there.
Jenny Slate gives an outstanding performance in a role that would have elevated her to stardom if it had been given to her sooner. With Gillian Robespierre by her side, she will succeed. Obvious Child masterfully juggles the tension and levity between drama and comedy, leaving the audience satisfied but yearning for more. If you enjoyed Obvious Child, you should see their next film, Landline, which they directed together.
10. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
What’s been missing from this list, exactly? Steve Carrel, that’s who. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was Judd Apatow’s and his cast’s first big hit. These three actors’ comedic chops were on display for many for the first time in this film. In part because the plot is obvious from the film’s title and the fact that the scene where Carrel’s character is discovered to be a virgin has been parodied by shows like American Dad and Seinfeld, but also because The 40-Year-Old Virgin has earned a place in the pantheon of great American comedies alongside most of Mel Brook’s filmography.
This film served as a launching pad for Judd Apatow’s comedic style, which would be influential for the rest of the decade. We wouldn’t have films like Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You Man, and Trainwreck if it weren’t for The 40-Year-Old Virgin.