10 Underrated Rom-coms To Watch This Valentine’s Day
Whether you're coupled up or flying solo, you'll love these lesser known rom-coms.
Think rom-com, and most people tend to think of the likes of Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, When Harry Met Sally and all the other 90s, likely Nora Ephron-penned classics. But as the popular Netflix Original To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before proved last year, there’s far more to this escapist genre than just the films of its 90s heyday.
So, whether you’re coupled up or flying solo this V day, here are some lesser known romantic gems - complete with meet cutes, misunderstandings and romantic reunions galore - to help you expand your rom-com repertoire.
What If? (2013)
His time spent dribbling pumpkin juice over Cho Chang as Harry Potter didn’t exactly scream leading man material, but Daniel Radcliffe proves himself very much up to the task in this sweet 2014 movie. Playing opposite Zoe Kazan as the loveable Wallace, you find yourself rooting for him in his battle to escape the friend zone just as much as you ever did in his fight against Voldemort.
Been So Long (2018)
Michaela Coel was brilliantly funny in Channel 4’s Chewing Gum, but this romantic musical comedy shows off her singing voice too. Set against the backdrop of an all-singing North London, you watch Coel’s character, single mum Simone, gradually come round to the idea of dating charming rough diamond Raymond.
Obvious Child (2014)
Abortion might not exactly seem like the stuff of either romance or comedy, but this irreverent movie starring the great Jenny Slate somehow manages it. Slate stars as standup comedian Donna, whose drunken one night stand with preppy Max (Jake Lacy) leads to an unwanted pregnancy and the start of an unlikely relationship.
Frances Ha (2012)
Single for Valentine’s Day? So this film might not technically be a rom-com, but it’s all the proof you’ll ever need that friendship can be every bit as romantic as your typical love story. Co-written by and starring Greta Gerwig, the film follows her character Frances as she comes to terms with her best friend Sophie moving out of their shared NYC apartment.
Man Up (2015)
In this 2015 film set in London, recently divorced Jack (Simon Pegg) mistakes pessimistic Nancy (Lake Bell) for his blind date as they cross paths under the clock tower at Waterloo station. Nancy decides to go with it, and what follows is a night of drunken bowling and bathroom dramas, with the twists and turns leading to a satisfyingly clichéd ending.
About Time (2013)
Forget Love Actually – this is some of rom-com king Richard Curtis’ best work. The film follows the affable Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) as he uses his handy time travelling powers to secure the love of his life, Mary, played by the ever wonderful Rachel McAdams. Time travelling aside, ultimately, it’s a film that reminds you to appreciate the little things in life.
The Big Sick (2017)
A story of culture clashes, The Big Sick is based on the real-life courtship of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, who meet following Kumail’s stand up set. As their one night stand develops into something more serious, Kumail contends with the disapproval of his strict Muslim parents and a life-threatening illness for Emily.
Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
Best known as Lesley Knope’s beloved best friend Ann Perkins in Parks and Rec, Rashida Jones also happens to be a talented producer and in this case, screenwriter. Jones stars as Celeste opposite Andy Steinberg’s Jesse, a couple who have drifted apart but come to realise that divorce might not be the solution after all. Extra kudos goes to the excellent soundtrack.
Going the Distance (2010)
Drew Barrymore and Justin Long star in this occasionally filthy, frequently funny bicoastal comedy about a couple who fall in love in New York and attempt to keep their long-distance relationship alive when Barrymore’s Erin has to head home to San Francisco.
If you’re looking for longer term commitment, look no further than Lovesick. Now three seasons in, this rom-com started on the unusual premise of main character Dylan (Johnny Flynn) arranging to meet previous conquests to let them know about his chlamydia diagnosis, and has since flourished into a sweet, funny story about love and friendship.
- By Sian Gardiner