The romantic comedy has always been a profitable sub-genre of Hollywood films.
No matter what decade, you're sure to find many kinds of rom-coms out there. Some of them may be utilizing age-old plot patterns and using "ancient" archetypal characters we could fall in love with, such as those created in Greek mythological stories or those penned by William Shakespeare. And then, there are those that aim to recreate these classic and timeless plots to give it modern-day twists and turns. Of course, we also have so many original concoctions here and there, depending on what's hot, hip and happening during certain eras, epochs, and decades.
So, how do we characterize the rom-coms of the '80s? Well, there are many straightforward narratives here, where love is not too mushy, and sex is not always hidden or vaguely implied. The '80s was a time to be bold and daring, where we saw an intersection of the conventional and the radical. And that's evident in the way romance, love, and sex were concocted in the rom-coms of the decade.
So, are you ready to guess these '80s films based on a screenshot image of a scene? Roll cam!
Who could ever forget that classic love triangle of sorts, featuring rich kid Blane, who's in love with middle-class Andie, whose best friend Duckie is secretly in love with her? No film defined the status "It's Complicated!" quite like "Pretty in Pink" in 1986 -- and John Hughes approved!
One of the most unforgettable scenes in cinematic history came from the 1989 rom-com called "When Harry Met Sally," written by Nora Ephron. Remember that scene where Sally faked having an orgasm while she was dining with Harry in a very public restaurant? Classic rom-com moment there!
"Roxanne" is one of those rom-coms that came from a classic plot pattern, this time penned by Edmond Rostand, since his play "Cyrano de Bergerac" was the one being referenced in this 1987 film. The story revolved around a smart but slightly body-conscious man (his nose is way too big) who ended up coaching a slow-witted hunky dude to court a beautiful woman for whom he also pines.
If you want to see a rom-com happening within the confines of the corporate world of the '80s, you should see the 1988 film, "Working Girl," starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford. She's the secretary of bossy lady Sigourney Weaver but falls in love with Ford -- her boss' beau.
Rom-coms won't be rom-coms if they don't include some sort of fantasy element, which is what Woody Allen did with his 1985 film called "The Purple Rose of Cairo." In this interesting tale, the actor in the film suddenly breaks his fourth wall and talks to a lonesome woman who always watches his movie -- and he steps down from the screen to be with the woman offscreen!
The 1964 Beatles hit called "Can’t Buy Me Love" became the title of a 1987 rom-com film featuring Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson. This storyline uses a classic plot pattern in teen movies wherein the geeky unpopular kid pays off a popular kid to pretend that they are a couple -- so, of course, you have an idea of what happens next.
The 1982 rom-com classic, "Tootsie," is, first and foremost, a gender-bending film, wherein a down-and-out actor pretends to be a woman to snag a coveted acting role in television. While dressed as a woman, he meets a woman and falls for her -- but how will this great gender reveal happen? Watch to find out!
"Bull Durham" is a baseball film, first and foremost, but it's also a rom-com since the story revolves around a baseball player and a baseball groupie who eventually fall in love. This 1998 film features Kevin Costner as that ballplayer and Susan Sarandon played the groupie.
The 1986 corporate-set rom-com, "About Last Night," was based on the stage play, "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," penned by the great modern playwright, David Mamet. The film featured Demi Moore and Rob Lowe in the lead, with the story set in Chicago. A 2014 remake was done with an all-black cast, but that story was set in Los Angeles.
The 1983 film, "Two of a Kind," tried to repeat the popularity gained by the John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John tandem first seen in the movie musical, "Grease," in 1978. However, the film was sort of a flop, but it produced great songs sung by Newton-John which outlived the popularity of the movie, particularly the hit "Twist of Fate."
Molly Ringwald was somehow the face of teen movies with rom-com storylines in the '80s, and "Sixteen Candles" was no exception. This 1984 film also co-starred a young Anthony Michael Hall, and was also penned and directed by master teen rom-com creator John Hughes.
"Chances Are" starred a rom-com-y Robert Downey Jr. before he did the testosterone-y role of Tony Stark in the "Ironman" and "Avengers movies." He co-stars with other movie greats in this 1989 film, such as Cybill Shepherd, Ryan O'Neal, and Mary Stuart Masterson.
Screenwriter Cameron Crowe had his directing debut with the 1989 rom-com called "Say Anything..." starring John Cusack and Ione Skye. However, moviegoers now find the raise-a-boombox-to-woo-a-girl scene kind of stalker-ish, since women's rights advocates feel that women should not be forced to entertain a man who disrupts her life in this grandiose and slight harassing manner, especially if he's "forcing" her to be with him in a "romantic" sense.
The 1988 rom-com, "Mystic Pizza," featured the very beautiful Julia Roberts, who wasn't much of a huge Hollywood star yet. But another big Hollywood actor who made his debut in this film is Matt Damon, who played the small role of a teenager named Steamer.
The 1998 rom-com called "Some Kind of Wonderful" feels more like a drama most times, due to the rather class-based storylines featuring the characters played by Mary Stuart Masterson, Eric Stoltz, and Lea Thompson. The story is about a high school middle class teen boy who desperately wants to court the popular rich girl, while his equally middle class girl BFF watches on the side, silently loving him in secret.
The 1981 rom-com, "Arthur," starred the funny Dudley Moore in the titular role of an East Coast millionaire who falls for a working-class girl played by Liza Minnelli. While that version was a certified a hit at the box office, a winner for critics and the Academy Awards voters, and even in song charts for the theme song, the poorly scripted 2011 remake starring comedian Russell Brand just fell flat on its face.
John Cusack and Demi Moore definitely delivered many cool rom-com hits during this decade. One of them is the 1986 film called "One Crazy Summer," where comedians Bobcat Goldthwait and Curtis Armstrong also co-starred to give the extra laughs in this love story.
What if "The Little Mermaid" became a live action film and was given a rom-com twist in the 1980s? That could have been the movie "Splash" which starred Tom Hanks as the smitten human and Daryl Hannah as the secret mermaid who made it easy for him to fall in love, thanks to her enigmatic persona.
"Cross My Heart" is the title of a 1987 rom-com featuring the popular '80s comedy guy, Martin Short, and Annette O'Toole who appeared more as a dramatic actor in many films. This interesting film plays around with the ideas of dating and keeping secrets from your dates -- and eventually revealing them.
Credit great director Francis Ford Coppola for helming a not-so-typical rom-com in the '80s, where the storylines he directed also have interesting twists and turns like his dramatic films. That unusual rom-com is the 1986 film called "Peggy Sue Got Married" where Kathleen Turner stars as an adult who gets transported back to her senior high school year, where she thinks of altering some life choices she has made that will impact her current life -- including being with a high school sweetheart.
French actor Emmanuel Béart charmed the '80s audiences by being the ethereal creature in the 1987 film called "Date with an Angel." The rom-com is about a man who ends up accidentally dating a real-life angel, wings and all, while he was set to marry another woman.
The 2007 movie musical, "Hairspray," was remade more into a rom-com tale, which was a minimal departure from the original 1988 comedy film penned and helmed by John Waters. The original non-musical version centered more on racial segregation issues while the musical version gave ample time to the love story between the main female protagonist and a handsome dancer.
Before sending Marty McFly "Back To The Future" in 1985, director Robert Zemeckis sent Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in a rom-com adventure in the 1984 film called "Romancing The Stone." This highly successful '80s film became a box-office hit, marking Zemeckis' first popular film before hitting it big again in future directorial efforts like the "Back To The Future" series, and also "Forrest Gump."
If you think rom-coms are not Academy Award material, then the 1987 film, "Moonstruck," will certainly debunk that myth. This film, which starred Cher and Nicolas Cage, won for her a Best Actress Oscar, a Best Supporting Actress award for Olympia Dukakis, and a Best Original Screenplay award.
"Her Alibi" is a 1989 rom-com that featured Tom Selleck in the lead, with the beautiful model Paulina Porizkova as his character's love interest. She made several films and made TV appearances here and there after this film became a hit, and she also became a judge in "America's Next Top Model."
Before she sashayed as the sultry Samantha Jones in TV's "Sex and the City," Kim Cattral became the inanimate object of desire in the 1987 film called "Mannequin." The rom-com starred Andrew McCarthy who played a window dresser of an apartment store where a mannequin sometimes comes to life when he's alone -- so he falls for her, naturally.
The 1985 rom-com called "Secret Admirer" featured the popular '80s young actors, C. Thomas Howell, Kelly Preston, and Lori Loughlin. The story of the film is a bit convoluted for a rom-com, but its title somehow directs the narrative into a kind of mistaken identity trope that involves love letters landing in the wrong hands.
Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr. crossed paths during the cinematic '80s part of their lives, in the 1987 rom-com called "The Pick-Up Artist." This '80s film also featured many great Hollywood veterans in supporting roles, such as Dennis Hopper, Harvey Keitel, Vanessa Williams, Danny Aiello, Lorraine Bracco, and Christine Baranski.
You might be more familiar with the 2018 remake of this film starring Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez, but the film, "Overboard," was originally a 1987 rom-com. It featured Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, real-life love partners who showed movie audiences how they also clicked in love at the cinema.
The title. "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," might be more familiar to music lovers since it's a popular '80s song performed by Cyndi Lauper. But it's also the title of a 1985 rom-com starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker, and also featuring a younger Shannen Doherty and Helen Hunt as well.
"The Sure Thing" is a 1985 rom-com helmed by director Rob Reiner, featuring John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga in the lead. While he continued to work on feature films, she devoted her time in making some films, being a TV star, notably in "Melrose Place," and also becoming an environmental advocate to boot.
Who knew that the 1980s audiences would love adventure-set rom-coms so much that a successful sequel could be made as well? Such is the story of "The Jewel of the Nile," the 1985 rom-com adventure film which was the sequel to the hit, "Romancing The Stone," also starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
The 1989 rom-com called "Happy Together" played on mistaken and misgendered identities for laughs that later turned to love. It starred Patrick Dempsey as a college freshman who gets assigned to be a roommate of someone named Alex, played by Helen Slater, who turns out to be female (Alexandra) -- so you know what happens next there!
Actor-director Gene Hackman helmed the 1984 rom-com called "The Woman in Red" which was actually a remake of a French film called "Pardon Mon Affaire (Un éléphant ça trompe énormément)." The American film also featured Stevie Wonder's popular hit song, "I Just Called to Say I Love You" as its theme song.
Spot a very young Nicolas Cage acting in this 1983 rom-com called "Valley Girl," playing the Romeo-like character. Deborah Foreman supplies the Juliet-like character in this rom-com, who was also actively acting in other '80s movies and TV shows before retiring from the biz in the 2000s.
John Hughes also wrote and directed rom-coms featuring adults, such as the 1988 film called "She’s Having A Baby." This one featured a very young couple exploring their new life as newlyweds and soon-to-be new parents, starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern in the leads.
It's definitely a sci-fi film based on the title alone, but the 1988 film, "Earth Girls Are Easy," is also a rom-com as well as a musical film. This strange concoction of a film featured Hollywood heavyweights such as Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Julie Brown, Damon Wayans, and Jim Carrey.
The 1983 film, "Risky Business," will always be in the minds of people as that film which catapulted a very young Tom Cruise to international stardom, especially with that iconic sing-along scene of his wearing shades, briefs, and a shirt. But it's actually also a rom-com, where Rebecca De Mornay supplies the "rom" part of his "com."
The 1985 rom-com called "Better Off Dead" dealt with very heavy storylines, mainly a teen being suicidal near the yuletide holidays, because of a broken heart. The interesting film starred John Cusack in the lead, which actually had elements of black humor and experimental filmmaking thrown in there by director Savage Steve Holland.