Valentine’s Day may have just passed, but these nontraditional romcoms are good for any season

By Kaitlin Dunn

Elm Staff Writer

For some, romantic comedies are painful films to watch. Between Hallmark’s Christmas specials and the plethora of Nicholas Sparks’ films, the market may seem oversaturated and redundant. From movies like “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018), some romantic comedies can end up feeling too cookie cutter.

Here are a few rom-coms, as well as a couple adjacent films, for those who hate the traditions and expectations of the movie genre. 

“Amélie” (2001)

Amélie is a French film following the story of a shy young woman who sets out to improve the lives of those around her to help her cope with her own sense of loneliness. In her quest to find ways to affect the lives of others, she is led to her neighbor, Raymond Dufayel. 

In spending time with him, Dufayel pushes Amélie to look further at her relationship with Nino Quincampoix, a man who collected discarded photographs from passport photobooths. Eventually, Amélie and Nino fall in love, and Amélie realizes she has found happiness for herself as well.

While the film itself does follow the traditional rom-com plotline, its eccentric premise, along with its collection of characters, takes audiences on a different, yet amorous, journey through the streets of France.    

“Warm Bodies” (2013)

“Warm Bodies” is a paranormal romantic comedy. The movie follows the story of R, a zombie who craves human flesh, who meets Julie, a human, and experiences a heartbeat for the first time. 

According to IMDb, after eating Julie’s boyfriend’s brains, R’s attraction to Julie increases, and he proceeds to take her back to the airplane he lives at. After Julie eventually escapes and returns to her family, R realizes that himself and the other zombies are slowly regaining their humanity. 

“Booksmart” (2019)

On the eve of their high school graduation, Molly and Amy, two overachieving students, realize that they “should have worked less and played more,” according to IMDb. As a result, they aim to fit four years of fun into one night, and chaos ensues, with drug escapades, boat jumping, and an unlikely arrest. 

While not technically considered a romantic comedy, “Booksmart” does contain a relationship, both platonic and romantic. 

According to the film’s synopsis, “’Booksmart’ is an unfiltered comedy about high school best friends and the bonds we create that last a lifetime.”

“But I’m a Cheerleader” (1999)

A satirical romantic comedy, “But I’m a Cheerleader” takes place in a conversion therapy camp. Megan, the main character, is assumed to be a lesbian by her parents and friends, and, as a result, is sent to the camp to “cure” her. At the camp, she realizes that she is in fact a lesbian and falls in love with another camper, Graham. 

In addition to the unconventional setting of the film, “But I’m a Cheerleader” varies from the traditional rom-com in the sense that it also deals with coming to terms with one’s identity, and the undertones of the harsh realities of conversion therapy.

“Les Amours Imaginaires” (2010)

“Les Amours Imaginaires” is a French dramatic romance film. Francis and Marie are friends who both fall in love with the same man, Nicolas. As the two compete for Nicolas’ attention, the friendship turns to rivalry. 

Unlike the traditional love triangle rivalry, “Les Amours Imaginaires” is split in terms of sexuality. Marie is a straight woman and Francis a gay man, both vying for the attention of Nicolas, creating an interesting dichotomy as the film progresses. 

“Lady Bird” (2017)

Following the story of the titular “Lady Bird,” Christine McPherson, the film goes through her final year of school at her California Catholic high school. 

According to IMDb, the story shows Lady Bird’s relationships, not only with the men in her life, but also her mother as she transitions through life. Her relationship with her mother in particular is strained, as Lady Bird feels her mother doesn’t understand her and her mother feeling Lady Bird is ungrateful for what she already has.

“Lady Bird” is a coming-of-age film that also manages to include the quirks of romance and relationships that are in line with growing up and going through life changes. 

Featured Photo caption: If you are someone who wants to watch a different kind of romantic comedy this Valentine’s Day season, here are a few flicks focusing on a wide range of romantic and platonic love. Photo Courtesy of Nijwam Swargiary.

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