Maybe you think that nominating specific lines in romantic comedy as bad is kind of superfluous. But that’s probably because you’re thinking only of Kate Hudson’s oeuvre — and forgetting about, say, ANNIE HALL or MOONSTRUCK. Remember when Nicolas Cage told Cher:
“Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice — it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed.”
Man, those lines are as perfect as a snowflake.
And then there’s Nora Ephron (R.I.P.), who single-handedly revolutionized the romantic comedy. The genius of her movies is that there’s something in them for everyone — maybe you swoon over Harry declaring his love for Sally in the middle of a New Year’s Eve party (“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”), or maybe you prefer the oddball humor of the “baby fish mouth” Pictionary scene, or Harry exclaiming in horror, “That’s it? Some faceless guy rips off all your clothes, and THAT’S the sex fantasy you’ve been having since you were twelve?” And do you remember hearing the line “I’ll have what she’s having” for the very first time?
This is what romantic comedy can be, at its best. Below is what it can be at its worst. (By the way, we limited ourselves to romantic comedies, which is why you won’t find such corkers as “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” from 1970’s LOVE STORY or “Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo,” from 2005’s STAR WARS: EPISODE III.)
Em probably shed a tear during each of the scenes below, despite simultaneously rolling her eyes. Lo refuses to admit seeing most of them, but if she did, she rolled her eyes all the way into the back of her head.
10. AUTUMN IN NEW YORK (2000)
Will (Richard Gere): “You don’t want to die! You want to live!
Charlotte (Winona Ryder): “You don’t think I’ve been through this so many times? I don’t want to give people hope when there isn’t any!”
Will: “Why not? Maybe we need hope.”
Oh right, Will — because your need for a little “hope” is more important than Charlotte coming to terms with the fact that she’s fucking dying. And because you’re an aging playboy who finally — at age, what, sixty-something? — fell in love (with someone three decades younger), she’s supposed to pretend she’ll get better just to celebrate the fact that you love her, you really luuuurrrve her? Try picking on someone your own age next time.
9. FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL (1994)
Carrie (Andie MacDowell): “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.”
Oh come on. How about if we punched you in the face for saying that? Do you think you’d notice that? Also, any movie that has Hugh Grant choose Andie MacDowell over Kristin Scott Thomas is just plain wrong.
8. SERENDIPITY (2001)
Sara (Kate Beckinsale): “You don’t have to understand. You just have to have faith.”
Jonathan (John Cusack): “Faith in what?”
First of all, this is the most ridiculous plot line we’ve ever heard of — you meet the guy of your dreams and you decide to intentionally lose his number and hope that fate or faith or destiny or some shmaltzy Hollywood screenwriter will deign to bring you back together. And second: we’re pretty sure that not even Meryl Streep could pull off this line… and yet they hired Kate Beckinsale.
7. NOTTING HILL (1999)
Anna Scott (Julia Roberts): “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
Oh, infantilism, it’s so charming! The only thing that could have made this line worse is if she’d decided to deliver it in baby talk. Oh, and also: you’re a freakin’ movie star! (Anna Scott the character, we mean.) You make millions of dollars. And yet you’re worried that this is a little intimidating to someone of the opposite sex — a little emasculating, even — and so you downplay it all and turn yourself into a giggling schoolgirl. Woman up!
6. HITCH (2005)
Hitch (Will Smith): “Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it’s the moments that take your breath away.”
in a tie with…
Hitch: “Any man, anytime, has the chance to sweep a woman off her feet. He just needs the right broom.”
Did this screenwriter actually go into a Hallmark store and steal lines from fridge magnets and novelty kitchen aprons?
5. AS GOOD AS IT GETS (1997)
Melvin (Jack Nicholson): “You make me want to be a better man.”
You can almost hear the drum-roll in the background in the moments leading up to this line: here it comes, five… four… three… two… one… BAM! We like to think that we hated this line the very first time we heard it, that we detected a self-satisfied smirk on Nicholson’s face when he uttered it. Or maybe we just hate it because it’s been more overplayed than a Cher song in a gay night club. Mostly, though, we’re just pissed that this movie ruined what is — we admit — an admirable sentiment. Imagine if you accidentally quoted this movie? The horror!
4. LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (2010)
Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal): “Sometimes the things you want the most don’t happen and what you least expect happens. I don’t know — you meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet one person and your life is changed forever.”
Wow, that’s deep, Jake. That’s poetry. That’s, like, something we’ve never been able to put into words before — that feeling — and you just nailed it. If you just took out all the uppercase letters and added a few line breaks, you’d have a prose poem on your hands. Lovers the world over would weep in gratitude at finally having the words to express their feelings.
3. GHOST (1990)
Molly (Demi Moore): “I love you. I really love you.”
Sam (Patrick Swayze): “Ditto.”
This is one of those lines — which later becomes a major plot point — where you can practically hear the screenwriter gleefully rubbing his or hands hands, like, Man, that is pure rom com gold!
Also, a grown man who can’t say those three little words? We’re sorry, but we saw DIRTY DANCING and we’re just not buying it.
2. JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)
Jerry (Tom Cruise): “You complete me.”
The commitment-phobic sports agent lays it all bear for Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) in front of a bunch of her sister’s friends. We shudder to think how many couples subsequently included this line in their customized wedding vows. (Because Hollywood says it so much more beautifully than all that “in sickness and in health” crap.) We’re pretty sure this line was included just to reassure the girly girls in the audience that they hadn’t just watched a sports movie. Even Em gagged on a spoon.
1. JERRY MAGUIRE (1996), again!
Dorothy: “You had me at hello.”
Yep, JERRY MAGUIRE successfully scored the two top spots in this list. We considered combining the two into one entry, but they are each so bad — and for very different reasons. Our major beef with this one — besides its general mawkishness — is that it’s weak weak weak. (Well, that and the fact that Zellweger always squints her eyes like a newborn puppy.) The dude already told her he didn’t really love her like crazy cakes, he was just fond of her son… and then all he has to do is show up looking all Tom-Cruisey and she forgives him on the spot. As if not being in love with someone is something you get past on your way home from the supermarket. The subsequent, inevitable meme (You had me at restraining order; You had me at two kegs; etc.) made us feel only slightly better about this line.
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