It’s Sunday, you finished the chores early, everyone is down for a nap (but you), it’s dark and raining outside…so what’s next?
How about a movie? But not just any movie, I’m talking about the sigh-worthy, rom-coms of yesteryear filled with plucky, witty leading women and cute, ambitious, khaki-sporting men who sweep them off their feet…after a row of shenanigans and perhaps a chase scene or two. Now, you’re probably thinking this is a list dedicated to Meg Ryan but…
Surprise! We created a list of some of our favorite, lesser-known romantic comedies from the 1990s that you may have forgotten (or sadly, never even seen). So pull up a snuggly blanket and the Häagen-Dazs, in no particular order we begin our list of hidden gems with:
It Could Happen to You – 1994
The Cop. The Waitress. And that fabulous red gown she wore to the yacht party. Before Nicholas Cage was solving historical mysteries or hot-wiring souped-up cars and long after his Ridgemont High days; he played a NYC officer named Charlie who has promised waitress Yvonne (Bridget Fonda) half of his lotto ticket winnings as a tip. He has no cash on him that day; as movie luck would have it, he won. They become friends (and a little more) but not without their own side-relationship/marriage drama. We love it because it’s so earnest and their characters are good and true (plus there’s a narrator).
While You Where Sleeping – 1995
Peter, a handsome guy with perfect teeth who walks past Lucy (Sandra Bullock) – the subway token ticket girl – daily, is pushed off the ledge. She darts from her booth to rescue him (this IS her dream man after all) and ends up claiming to be his fiancé and next-of-kin when they arrive at the hospital. Enter Peter’s super large, loud and real life next of kin that has all the makings of a great rom-com: a loud extended family with a chatty Grandma who’s always dressed to the nine’s and filled with quips like, “Look at the bright side. He has more room in his jockey shorts”.
Quiet, sweet and lonely Lucy (now welcomed into the home and lives of Peter’s loving family) is feeling pretty great until younger brother Jack (Bill Pullman) makes an appearance and calls B-you-know-what on this alleged engagement. As Peter sleeps silently in a coma Jack, his family and Lucy all begin to fall for one another. Oh, and did we mention this all happens at Christmas? Win!
Only You – 1994
Robert Downey Jr. acts in (I think) one of his finest roles as a shoesalesman posing to be the guy who knows the guy that’s also posing as Damon Bradley. Who the heck is Damon Bradley? Let’s back up a bit.
Faith (Marisa Tomei) as a girl was told by a fortune teller that she would find love with a man named Damon Bradley. Though she’s engaged to be wed, she dashes off to Italy with her sister-in-law Kate (Bonnie Hunt) to find this man. The run into Peter (Downey Jr.) who claims to be Damon Bradley when he spots Faith (what guy wouldn’t – she’s stunning!). He confesses to lying, she slaps him and the next day – together with Kate (and her new, single, Italian dreamboat friend, Gionvanni) – they set forth to find Damon Bradley together.
Marissa Tomei looks AMAZING in this movie with her chic outfits and sleek haircut that left an impression on a younger-me. There’s also a montage of beautiful, European hotels sure to spark the wanderlust in you. This is probably one of my favorite romantic-comedies of all time. Get the Only You style from DesignSponge
Shakespeare in Love – 1998
This swoon-worthy plot makes Elizabethan story-telling modern and is filled with juicy drama in the story of Will Shakespeare, writer – who hey, has writer’s block. It could happen.
Will (Joseph Fiennes) just can’t seem to get his play “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter” off the ground but the playhouse is in trouble and he’s got to make some money. He meets his muse Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow) who already IS in love will the writer Will Shakespeare but she doesn’t know who he is in person. The closest she’s ever come to him is his writing. She disguises herself as a boy to try out for a part in his play. He figures her ruse out and while he parents and her husband-to-be are away they enjoy a week of “what could have been” bliss.
A few recognizable leading men makes apperances in this film: Ben Affleck has a epic stage sword fight, dreamy Colin Firth plays the husband to be and Rupert Everett dispenses sound advice (without bursting into a Dionne Warwick song). Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth has the most amazing costumes ever. The love, the characters the writing are all so strong – and we get to enjoy what’s portrayed as the original enactment of the play, Romeo and Juliet.
The English Patient – 1996
The older of the Fiennes brothers, Ralph Fiennes is simply captivating as a disaster-striken, injured love hero.
This story transcends time as it told through the eyes of Count Laszlo (Fiennes) who was injured and disfigured in an accident in the desert. He is cared for in present day by Hana (Juliette Binoche) as she deals with her own love issues and Kip’s (Naveen Andrews) growing affection for her; but many things from his past (like the memory of his lover) still haunt his dreams (and in some cases real life).
This story has so many twists and turns, I really can’t describe it’s wonder in type – perhaps you read the book in school? Watch the movie, it’s easier to digest and the plot is wonderful PLUS Colin Firth is also in this charmer. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’d enjoy seeing Ralph Fiennes in this compassionate, intense role before his Lord Voldermort days.
Sabrina – 1995
Now nothing will top the 1954 Audrey Hepburn version, but if you can’t get your hands on that one this is a lovely alternative. Harrison Ford stars as big brother Linus Larrabee whose heart was won be the chauffeur’s daughter on her return from Paris.
That’s truly all I can say because while it’s enjoyable, it can’t compare to the 1954 Bogart/Hepburn version of the film – you decide
Fools Rush In – 1997
A one night stand between Alex (Matthew Perry) and Isabel (Salma Hayek) leads to an Anglo-Mexican melange of ‘will they/will they not make this work in time for the baby‘ storyline. Alex, a Manhattan transplant, is in Las Vegas for work and could not be more out of his environmental and cultural element; while free-spirit photographer Isabel flits between the southwest consulting her faith and grandmother for guidance in this film. Alex marries “the one with the body” – together they’re convinced (kinda) that this can work…now only if they can convince their families and themselves.
Blast from the Past – 1999
Brendan Fraser plays the adorable Adam, who has lived his entire life underground with his parents avoiding the nuclear threats of the 60s. He is now above ground in his 30’s looking for love in the 1990s. Yep, epic timelapse plot! His love interest is the lovely Eve (Alicia Silverstone) who in the end falls for his 60s charm, jokes and manners. Oh yeah and Christopher Walken is his dad. You can enjoy this film — in COLOR (watch it you’ll get the reference).
French Kiss – 1995
Meg Ryan is running around Paris looking for her fiancé Charlie, who has called off their wedding since he found another younger, better model. On the flight she befriends a thief Luc (Kevin Kline) who is smuggling a necklace and grape vine in her purse. Mehhh…the trailer is kind of light but it’s an easy film to digest.
Practical Magic – 1998
Sisters Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are running around their aunts’ most gorgeous, rambling Victorian home as witches of the Owens family. Their family line has a curse that kills all men an Owens woman falls for – so one sister would rather live widowed with her daughters; while the other takes on any man in her path (but never permanently). Until one eastern European man becomes her permanent mess from the afterlife (spooky!). A curious male detective might just be the fix.
Stevie Nicks fan? This movie is for you! See more on their set Victorian home here.
Special mention goes to the 1993 film Untamed Heart starring Marisa Tomei. Thank goodness the trailer is upbeat because this movie is a tearjerker – it’s got love, drama, despair, an alleged baboon heart and Christian Slater.
It Could Happen To You photo from © 1994 – Columbia/TriStar