10 romantic comedies to get you through Valentine's Day

In this image released by Overture Films, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are shown in a scene from "Last Chance Harvey." (AP)

Published: Friday, February 11, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 10:12 p.m.

Whether you'll be spending Valentine's Day snuggled up with the one you love or grumbling about the unfairness of life into a half-finished box of coconut-filled goodness, you'll need something to watch.

These 10 romantic comedies and dramas will reaffirm what you already feel or give you hope that you may some day feel it.

1. “It Happened One Night” (1934)

Ellie (Claudette Colbert) has married King Westley, a man of questionable character, against her wealthy father's wishes. When she escapes by bus to meet her new husband in New York, she runs into Peter (Clark Gable). They stick together as their travel plans take one wrong turn after another. Sparks fly between Ellie, pampered and stubborn, and Peter, practical and gruff, in this multiple Oscar winner.

2. “Last Chance Harvey” (2008)

Things are not going well for Harvey (Dustin Hoffman). He's on the outs at work, and he's in London to see his daughter get married, but she's opted to have her stepfather give her away. But then along comes Kate (Emma Thompson), and they have one of those conversations that stretches on forever. “We're not teenagers,” Kate reminds Harvey at one point. Thank goodness for that. It's so nice to see a love story centered on two people long past the pimple stage.

3. “Murphy's Romance” (1985)

When Emma (Sally Field) moves to a small town with her son Jake (Corey Haim), she catches the attention of Murphy (James Garner), a widower with gumption and charm. Just as Emma is settling into the new place, her ex-husband Bobby Jack (Brian Kerwin) shows up. Doesn't that name just say it all? The two men compete over Emma vigorously and hilariously.

4. “Once” (2006)

A man armed with a guitar is singing from his soul into the night on an empty street when a woman happens by to listen and talk. Though they are at different points in their lives, they connect through their love of music. Real-life musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irgloya bring such joy and simplicity to the roles. And the music they make is the kind that you feel in your bones.

5. “Paper Heart” (2009)

This movie tries to blur the line between fiction and reality as the adorably awkward

Charlyne Yi sets out to make a documentary about love because she doesn't think she believes in it. She meets actor Michael Cera, playing himself, and they become part of the story when they start dating. Is this the big L that has been eluding Charlyne?

6. “Something New” (2006)

Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) is a successful black woman looking for her IBM — Ideal Black Man. Brian Kelly (Simon Baker of TV's “The Mentalist”), a white, free-spirited landscape artist, isn't part of the plan, but they develop a strong connection. When her IBM in the form of Blair Underwood enters the picture, she has to figure out what she really wants out of life.

7. “The Long, Hot Summer” (1958)

In this Southern barn burner, Ben Quick (Paul Newman) blows into town, bad reputation in tow, and matches wits with good girl Clara (Joanne Woodward). Clara's father, Will Varner (Orson Welles), a bull of a man, decides Quick is the man to marry his daughter — whether she likes it or not. Newman and Woodward, who had a storied marriage in real life, crackle on screen. Many actors could live off of the crumbs of the chemistry they leave on the floor.

8. “The Wedding Singer” (1998)

Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) is a wedding singer who gets knocked off his game when he is left at the altar in this ode to the '80s. Reluctantly, he agrees to help his radiant co-worker Julia (Drew Barrymore) plan her wedding to a beefy jerk named Glenn. There's a nice moment when Julia kisses Robbie while demonstrating a proper wedding smooch. Barrymore and Sandler hit just the right note here.

9. “When Harry Met Sally” (1989)

When Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) share a ride to New York after college he informs her that men and women cannot be friends. After bumping into each other a couple of times over the years, they set out to prove that theory wrong. This Rob Reiner special set a standard that every romantic comedy since then has tried to meet.

10. “You've Got Mail” (1998)

Joe (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen (Meg Ryan) are fierce competitors in the book store world. They are also good friends on the Internet, but neither one realizes it. Hanks and Ryan are more likable than should be legally allowed in a film that really delivers

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