Movie Mondays: Indies Rule the Rom-Com

~posted by Frank

There was a time when romantic comedies ruled the box office. Today? Not so much, according to this article from Vanity Fair. In 2014, the most popular rom-com at the box office was the well-regarded remake of About Last Night with an African-American cast – and it ranked 65th for the year. The only other major rom-com was Blended, coming in at #69 – and the third time wasn’t the charm for Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, who delighted audiences with their previous efforts The Wedding Singer and 50 First DatesFor the best rom-coms from last year, we have to dig a little deeper. Here are four of the years best – all modest independent films – with their box office ranking.

What If (#155). The most typical of the group, What If follows Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) and Chantry (Zoe Kazan), who become best friends. Even though Wallace has been burned by past relationships and Chantry has a boyfriend (Rafe Spall), the pair can’t deny their attraction to each other. What the film lacks in originality it makes up for with witty dialogue and the infectious chemistry of the two leads.

Obvious Child (#161). The most atypical of the group, Obvious Child stars Jenny Slate as Donna, a stand-up comedian who impulsively and uncharacteristically sleeps with a man after getting dumped – to find herself pregnant and having to make some important decisions. Dubbed “the abortion comedy,” it addresses a controversial subject with a level of insight rare among comedies, or films in general.

Love is Strange (#177). The most bittersweet of the group, Love is Strange looks at a difficult time for Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), who were recently married after being together for nearly 40 years. Word of their marriage causes George to lose his teaching job at a Catholic school, they are forced to sell their apartment and live separately while finding a new place to live. Lithgow and Molina shine in this sad but hopeful tale of a long-lasting love that’s tested at an unexpected time.

Life After Beth (#371). The most undead of the group, Life After Beth is a rom-zom-com starring Aubrey Plaza as Beth, whose unexpected death leaves her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) reeling. That is, until he has a second chance when Beth comes back to life – as a zombie. While not as successful as 2013’s Warm Bodies, Plaza’s performance alone is worth an hour and a half in front of the TV.

Looking for more? Here is New York magazine’s list of the 20 best indie romantic comedies from the past 10 years.

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