By: Amelia Lozano

With Valentine’s Day on the way, it’s time to settle in with a human-sized barrel of candy, a cheesy romance movie, and cry. Amidst the tears and chocolate, though, one might stop to wonder: what makes a romantic comedy so good? Why do we always come back to them?

I’ve determined that there are three key ingredients to romantic comedies that can make or break the entire film.

Number 1: The Leads

Terrible chemistry between romantic leads is perhaps the number one downfall of any film. Look at the recent “Anyone But You” (2023) starring Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney: theoretically these two young, talented, and conventionally attractive actors would be perfect for a rom com. Unfortunately, the casting director failed to remember that looks aren’t everything.

Actors who can believably depict the woes and wonders of a romance can salvage any plot. Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson might be experiencing what I would consider a nightmare in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (2003) – never mix work with romance, girlies! – but the natural chemistry and humor that they share more than makes up for the plot, holes and all.

Number 2: The Story

Romantic comedies are fun because they don’t take themselves too seriously. As I like to say: the greater the absurdity, the greater the film. (I lied. I’ve never said that.)

Films like “Love Rosie” (2014) and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001) are rife with corny tropes, but there’s fun in the spectacle. No matter how much a person thinks they hate drama, a little entertainment will always hook an audience.

Even rom coms with a more somber premise like “The Big Sick” (2017) take refuge in the comedic and over dramatic elements of the story.

Number 3: The Big Gesture

Finally, the big, climactic scene of the whole film. This is where we get the answer to the big question in the back of our minds: what was it all for?

The big gesture is the moment that ties the knot in the relationship. Whether that be running through an airport or overcoming death itself, this is where everything finally comes to fruition.

Now for an interesting, albeit somewhat unrelated, observation: many women in rom coms work as journalists. (Does that mean it’s my turn to be the main love interest? Unlikely. Will notify if updates occur.) If anyone would like to share their theory as to why journalism is the preferred career for fictional women, I’d be happy to hear it. Maybe journalism is the secret ingredient to a good rom com, like apples in curry?

All that said, if you’re planning to write a romantic comedy anytime soon, keep the big three in mind. (And maybe make your main character a journalist?) Oh, and while we’re here, I offer my picks for actors I’d like to see leading a rom com: Daniel Kaluuya, Ayo Edebiri, Dev Patel and John Cho.

Casting directors, get to work!

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