POSTED February 14 2014

Valentine’s movies better than roses and chocolate


Simon Baker and Sanaa Lathan in "Something New"

Simon Baker and Sanaa Lathan in “Something New”

This week New York Magazine cinephiles David Edelstein and Bilge Ebiri nominated these as the best romantic comedies since When Harry Met Sally and solicited other suggestions. Here are some not on their list, from my perspective a little too male and too pale. Most of these are written and/or directed by women. This list is dominated by Meg Ryan and Sanaa Lathan, the universal valentines. These are better than roses or chocolate.

Forces of Nature (1999) Director Bronwen Hughes shakes Marc Lawrence’s fizzy screenplay about a groom (Ben Affleck) bound for his wedding to Maura Tierney in the Carolinas and waylaid by weather and the eccentric Sandra Bullock. It makes a really potent cocktail.

French Kiss (1995) Lawrence Kasdan’s direction of Adam Brooks’ droll comedy with Meg Ryan as the overwound American and Kevin  Kline as the unsprung Frenchman has lovely rhythms and scenery, and the leads display Nobel-worthy comedy physics.

I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007) Writer/director Amy Heckerling’s sprightly story of tan aging television producer (Michelle Pfeiffer) who falls for younger actor (Paul Rudd) in youth-crazy Hollywood while teaching her daughter (Saoirse Ronan) that it’s what’s inside that counts and not fully believing her own message.

I.Q. (1994) Filmmaker Fred Schepisi and screenwriter Andy Breckman consider the laws of attraction between a car mechanic (Tim Robbins) and a doctoral student (Meg Ryan), whose uncle happens to beAlbert Einstein (Walter Matthau).

Love and Basketball (2000) Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed the competition-charged valentine about hearts and hoops, with Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps as next-door neighbors trying to score college basketball scholarships — and with each other.

Music and Lyrics (2007) Writer/director Marc Lawrence plays matchmaker to Hugh Grant, a washed-up ’80s musical phenom, and Drew Barrymore, a would-be author. When Grant is approached by a Shakira-like songstress to write her next hit, he approaches Barrymore, his plant-waterer, to provide the words that foreshadow their relationship.

Reality Bites (1994) Helen Childress wrote and Ben Stiller directed and stars in this Generation X love triangle among Winona Ryder, aspiring filmmaker, Ethan Hawke, countercultural poet, and Stiller and the corporate guy who woos Ryder by promising to air her work.

She’s the Man (2006) Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as re-imagined by the two funniest women in America (Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah, writers of Ten Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde). It’s directed by Andy Fickman and stars Amanda Bynes as the soccer-crazy high schooler who poses as a boy and falls in love with roomie Channing Tatum.

Something New (2006) The film from screenwriter Kriss Turner and director Sanaa Hamri begins on Valentine’s Day, where four African-American women more successful in their careers than in romance, pledge to “let go and let flow.” When Sanaa Lathan, a corporate accountant, agrees to a blind date with a landscape architect (Simon Baker), she doesn’t know he is white, hires him to landscape her garden, and tries not to fall in love.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003) Writer/director Nancy Meyers’ sidesplitting and wistful comedy about a divorced playwright (Diane Keaton) both repelled by and attracted to her daughter’s music-producer boyfriend (Jack Nicholson) and also to a younger doctor (Keanu Reeves).

Your nominations?


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