Total Recall

10 Offbeat Romantic Comedies for Valentine's Day

by | February 2, 2016 | Comments

We’ve gathered together what we think are 10 of the most original films to challenge the conventions of the genre. Some have happy endings, some end in tears or confusion — yet all work an unfamiliar, offbeat magic on the romantic comedy template. There’s no Hallmark rubbish to be found here…

Secretary (2002) 76%


Based on Mary Gaitskill’s critically-acclaimed short story of the same, Secretary is a dark and deviant romantic comedy about the subjectivity of love, focusing on the idea that love doesn’t necessarily have to be predictable and pain free. It’s a coming-of-age love story about the journey of sexuality, shame and innocence. Like American Beauty and other dark comedies of its sub-genre, Secretary explores taboo concepts in an accessible way that still manages to tease out its controversial messages light-heartedly. It’s understandable, then, that critics might be have been a little divided by a movie that glorifies S&M, self-harm and — perhaps worst of all — inter-office dating.

Watch Trailer

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) 79%


Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love tackles the love story between the socially-impaired, emotionally-disturbed Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) and the sweet Lena Leonard (Emily Watson). Barry is not your average male protagonist, spending his days selling toilet plungers and collecting trolley loads full of pudding in order to accrue the attached frequent flyer coupons. He also gets himself into some unusual circumstances, such as calling a phone sex line run by con artists who then pursue and attempt to bully Barry into giving them all of his money. The romance in this film is unique as it speaks its own language; quite unlike that of any rom-com. At one tender moment Barry whispers to Lena: “I’m lookin’ at your face and I just wanna smash it with a sledgehammer… and squeeze it. You’re so pretty.” Isn’t love sweet?

Watch Trailer

Harold and Maude (1971) 85%


When people develop relationships with unusual characters in a movie, it’s usually received by the majority of audiences in one of two ways: support or disgust. In rom-com Lars and the Real Girl, we found ourselves encouraging Ryan Gosling to fall in love with his life-sized doll. However, in the case of Harold and Maude, we’re challenged with a love much more confronting than that of a man for his plastic girl. Eccentric and shy young Harold (Bud Cort) passes his time by faking his own suicide attempts and attending funerals at his leisure in his very own hearse. It’s there he meets 79-year-old spontaneous and carefree Maude (Ruth Gordon), who teaches Harold new experiences. No doubt Harold and Maude is a one of a kind, a romantic comedy that tackles the social constructs of ageism behind a clever mask of dark humour and a fascinating (to say the least) love story.

Watch Trailer

2 Days in Paris (2007) 88%


Marion (Julie Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) have been together happily for two years, but it’s not until a trip to her home in Paris that the relationship is truly tested. Jack becomes jealous and paranoid about Marion’s friendship with her ex-lovers while struggling to relate culturally. His neurosis is compounded by his inability to speak French and his misfortune in some disastrously uncomfortable situations. Channeling both Woody Allen’s ranting comedies and the freeform New Wave cinema of her national pedigree, 2 Days in Paris sees Delpy deconstruct the drama of a modern romance within the guise of an acerbic, off-the-cuff comedy.

Watch Trailer

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) 88%


You want offbeat? Plenty of the magic behind the enduring love for this movie can be put down to the eccentricities of its lead characters. Consider that style icon Audrey Hepburn, playing the free-spirited Holly Golightly, is a young runaway living in Manhattan where she gets drunk, goes to strip clubs, stays out all night and lives an independent life completely devoid of responsibility. “We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us,” she says. Oh, and she’s also a call girl; lest we forget. Holly sparks up a friendship with her mysterious neighbour (George Peppard) — who also turns out to be a prostitute — and together they tumble into a rocky relationship, in which two commitment-phobes are slowly forced to admit they might have feelings for each other.

Watch Trailer

Amélie (2001) 89%


Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children) has a flair for imagining France in a twisted and peculiar light, and it’s on full display in Amélie — the story of a young recluse played with a mesmerising childlike quality by then little-known Audrey Tautou. Amélie is a shy girl who delights in skimming stones, cracking crème brulee and imagining how many people in the world are orgasming at any given moment, while she loves carrying out kind-hearted pranks on the people around her. She’s quite content living in her own fantasy world until chance hitches her fate to Nino Quincampoix (Matthieu Kassovitz), whom she begins to pursue around Paris like the world’s cutest stalker. Amazingly, Amélie was rejected by the Cannes Film Festival because one of the selectors found it “uninteresting”. Go figure.

Watch Trailer

Chasing Amy (1997) 87%


Basically, the story goes like this: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy discovers girl is actually a lesbian. Typically, boy thinks he can “convert” girl. Trouble ensues. Kevin Smith’s highly quotable and unusual take on modern day expectations of love flirts with the idea of sexuality and relationships in a humorous and honest manner. It’s the ultimate tale of unrequited love, dealing cleverly and carefully with some pretty complex and controversial topics. Who could forget gay, black-power advocate Hooper’s wisdom on why he doesn’t feel obligated to stick up for lesbians? “Screw that ‘all for one’ s***, alright? I gotta deal with being a minority in a minority of the minority, and nobody’s supportin’ my ass!”

Watch Trailer

Juno (2007) 94%


Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s Academy Award-winning teen pregnancy comedy is one of the quirkiest — in the best sense of that word — high school flicks in quite some time. Rather than the usual teenage movie caricatures, the movie’s characters reflect the sarcastic but emotionally vulnerable life of real high schoolers (or at least Cody’s imagination, anyway). That is until 16-year-old Juno becomes unexpectedly “Fo’ shizz up the spout” by Michael Cera’s goofy Paulie Bleeker. Romantic comedy of the most offbeat kind results, as the characters try to negotiate both their burgeoning puppy love and Juno’s baby-adopters… all framed within Reitman and Cody’s original little universe.

Watch Trailer

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) 93%


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a story conjured up by two of the most remarkably imaginative and individual filmmakers working in movies — screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry. Together they take us on an almost voyeuristic journey inside the fraying relationship between the reserved, nervous Joel (Jim Carrey) and the unpredictable, outgoing Clementine (Kate Winslett). Frustrated, Clementine impulsively has her mind erased of all of her memories of Joel; and the forlorn Joel follows suit. Gondry and Kaufman’s dive into Joel’s subconscious as he tries to cling to his evaporating memories of Clementine is alternately comedic and heart-wrenching — who hasn’t felt the desire to rid ourselves of a painful memory, the hurtful things that we have said, or the vulnerable moments we have shared? Eternal Sunshine challenges our beliefs on love, and asks us if ignorance is indeed bliss…

Watch Trailer

Annie Hall (1977) 98%


Arguably the quintessential Woody Allen comedy and certainly one of the great romances in movies, Annie Hall is also our favourite offbeat rom-com — and one that’s inspired so many others, for both better and worse. Allen’s film retrospectively questions where a failed relationship has gone wrong. As Alvy, a comedian who is re-examining his break up with the frivolous Annie (played by Diane Keaton), Allen overanalyses the ups and downs, the screw ups and the bonds, in a way that attempts to find an upside to the failure of his one true love. Ultimately, Allen’s humour lies in his comedic ability to mock himself. As Alvy says, the reason why he lets his relationship fail is like that “Old Groucho Marx joke” — he doesn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member.

Watch Trailer

Tag Cloud

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stop motion romantic comedy movies archives Film TBS Mindy Kaling cops LGBT Emmys indie National Geographic halloween HBO Rocketman unscripted Fox News Pride Month halloween tv Best and Worst hollywood Holidays BET Awards 2015 streaming movie Netflix TCA travel Apple TV+ Brie Larson HBO Go Food Network Nominations 99% war independent WarnerMedia canceled Adult Swim Super Bowl X-Men Pop TV Trivia BAFTA Freeform Character Guide boxing BBC America animated cooking CNN WGN obituary History TCA Winter 2020 E3 NYCC TNT spinoff nbcuniversal batman reviews Opinion AMC Set visit television CBS cults thriller spider-man TCA Awards Horror Calendar Holiday award winner American Society of Cinematographers VICE Disney+ Disney Plus Television Academy Countdown remakes parents classics TCM Sundance Masterpiece VH1 Disney jamie lee curtis DC streaming service documentaries anthology Discovery Channel ID Classic Film child's play Travel Channel Spring TV Marvel Studios films french The Purge venice Action golden globes Shudder Warner Bros. composers docudrama Fox Searchlight sports IFC Films Nat Geo Black History Month scary movies GoT comic indiana jones criterion Disney streaming service A24 MTV PBS Heroines GLAAD zero dark thirty 20th Century Fox Thanksgiving PaleyFest Binge Guide MCU Columbia Pictures children's TV Turner Classic Movies Country dramedy festivals Paramount Network Ellie Kemper versus Logo tv talk cancelled television rt archives FOX Crackle Reality Competition fresh serial killer 45 Pop Election foreign Amazon Prime Video Marvel Television theme song Rom-Com vampires BET 2019 Valentine's Day screen actors guild social media cartoon universal monsters Musical comiccon Tomatazos spanish Martial Arts 21st Century Fox what to watch Song of Ice and Fire Mystery Funimation Emmy Nominations San Diego Comic-Con YouTube Podcast festival Hallmark Christmas movies Quiz SundanceTV all-time See It Skip It Britbox Reality Cannes The CW ghosts joker cats FXX Polls and Games crossover Apple TV Plus cars Tumblr free movies Toys Academy Awards ITV rotten movies we love sag awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ABC Family Epix mutant ratings Hallmark twilight Bravo doctor who Comedy Central toy story laika Trophy Talk dragons scorecard a nightmare on elm street Acorn TV concert aliens PlayStation ESPN LGBTQ robots Sci-Fi die hard disaster crime Lifetime chucky TLC adaptation best The Walking Dead spanish language Kids & Family Alien Animation Marathons blaxploitation 2020 Amazon Pet Sematary Certified Fresh game show natural history science fiction DGA casting Elton John crime thriller 71st Emmy Awards witnail Pixar Starz mission: impossible comic books Lionsgate Spectrum Originals MSNBC YouTube Premium Esquire reboot deadpool VOD ABC south america political drama Paramount CW Seed USA Network TCA 2017 HBO Max sequels Shondaland fast and furious game of thrones Fantasy period drama diversity Teen cinemax TV Land BBC One Film Festival USA President Disney Channel Music APB elevated horror A&E canceled TV shows true crime sitcom Pirates Star Wars Endgame football Ovation Apple Rocky Walt Disney Pictures zombie space New York Comic Con harry potter rotten supernatural NBC Sundance Now quibi hispanic miniseries police drama RT21 boxoffice Sneak Peek Box Office The Arrangement Hear Us Out Grammys Rock Peacock documentary YA discovery strong female leads biography Anna Paquin series First Look Comedy adventure SXSW Mary Poppins Returns Star Trek singing competition revenge dark romance Superheroe blockbuster critics video on demand Stephen King Avengers asian-american anime OneApp dc Universal crime drama 4/20 stand-up comedy Video Games toronto 2017 green book zombies Winter TV 2016 TV Dark Horse Comics Awards Year in Review DC Comics james bond dceu Showtime screenings worst Writers Guild of America finale Vudu Disney Plus sequel satire 72 Emmy Awards Fall TV Winners Tubi slashers stoner italian Sony Pictures teaser comedies black 2018 E! richard e. Grant Red Carpet werewolf cancelled Biopics psychological thriller The Academy Watching Series Lucasfilm worst movies Comic Book Spike FX TIFF Summer facebook Sundance TV Cosplay Premiere Dates Amazon Studios 24 frames Amazon Prime Western christmas movies news Ghostbusters japanese based on movie dogs emmy awards historical drama Creative Arts Emmys video Cartoon Network latino DirecTV Comics on TV technology binge The Witch Black Mirror spain directors Arrowverse medical drama nature Schedule OWN BBC Musicals Photos name the review Infographic Turner Women's History Month Baby Yoda 007 comics Oscars Interview Chernobyl DC Universe Crunchyroll IFC Tarantino GIFs Christmas El Rey Syfy TruTV spy thriller SDCC Trailer Television Critics Association Family Nickelodeon FX on Hulu psycho kids cancelled TV series RT History justice league CBS All Access talk show Captain marvel superhero Drama Marvel First Reviews book Netflix Christmas movies Mary poppins Hulu australia mockumentary hist Mary Tyler Moore franchise Mudbound renewed TV shows politics Lifetime Christmas movies Awards Tour TV renewals YouTube Red Extras Superheroes cancelled TV shows transformers CMT breaking bad nfl