Although people who peaked in high school like to act poetic about how great the 2000s were, they weren’t actually any better than the present day. I mean, it was a time when Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wore matching denim outfits in public and nobody carted them off to an insane asylum.
But I’m prepared to make a concession on two points: 1) At least we weren’t under the administration of a sentient slime mold wearing a bad wig. 2) The 2000s were a golden age for romantic comedies, mostly thanks to Judy Greer’s tireless efforts to play every heroine’s best friend. Plus, only like half the jokes were sexist, and there was about an 80% chance pre-pretentious Matthew McConaughey would show up.
Obviously, a betch has to be picky about her rom-coms—some are shitty in a good way, but others are best avoided in case someone catches you watching them. To guide your Netflix viewings, here’s a totally objective list of ‘00s rom coms. If you disagree, which I’m sure everyone will, please note that I’m not actually forcing you to watch these movies; I’m just saying that if you regularly watch any of the bottom five, you have terrible taste.
14. Garden State
Garden State is considered a modern classic by two groups of people. 1) men in their late 20s with a crush on Natalie Portman and a thriving quarter-life crisis and 2) 8th graders in 2004 under the assumption that any movie that features a Shins track in its soundtrack is automatically deep. To everyone else, it’s a film about self-absorbed white people whining about their lives until they’re magically fixed by the power of mixtapes. There are approximately a zillion issues with this film, beginning with Zach Braff’s complete lack of expression and ending with the fact that you can’t “cure” real depression by listening to The Shins, no matter how clearly superior the soundtrack is to anything else in this film. Worst of all, though, is the fact that Natalie Portman played a manic pixie dream girl so obnoxious I still dream about strangling her character sometimes. Padme deserves so much better.
13. Failure to Launch
I’m not saying romantic comedies have to make much sense, but Failure to Launch’s plot is mystifying. Matthew McConaughey’s parents are tired of him living at home, so they call in a
lady high class escort (Sarah Jessica Parker) whose job is literally seducing men into moving out of their parents’ basements and unceremoniously dumping them. Because that’s plausible, and not at all fucked up to force your son to fall in love with someone you’re paying. Ridiculous premise aside, you know a movie is terrible when famed nicegirl Zooey Deschanel is the best thing about it.
In case you missed this one, and for your sake I hope you did, Monster in Law is about Jane Fonda inexplicably being terrible to Jennifer Lopez, who walks a lot of dogs and is engaged to Fonda’s son. That right there should tell you all you need to know—I cannot think of one movie that JLo was in that was anything above mild torture, and we’re supposed to root for her character why, exactly? If my son was engaged to a full-time dog walker you can best believe I’d do everything short of actual murder to put a stop to that bullshit.
11. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
I’m told some people love this movie, but Jesus fucking Christ, is it possible for the two main characters to be any more appalling? Here you have two assholes manipulating the shit out of each other and just generally acting psychotic, all to win a stupid bet with their friends. They really should call it “How To Act Like A Psychopath And Lose Your Dignity.”
10. 13 Going on 30
Not gonna lie, I fucking adored 13 Going on 30 when I was an impressionable preteen. It had time travel! Mark Ruffalo! A makeover scene! Years later, the movie is still fun to watch, even if it is way too obsessed with the ‘80s, but the jokes are more cute than funny. Also, why would anyone allow their 13-year-old child to go to a sleepover hosted by a 30-year-old? That is … questionable to say the least. Not to mention Jennifer Garner’s character does a reverse transformation from a betch into a nicegirl and dumps her hot pro bf in favor of her formerly fat friend. Blah blah, true love, I don’t give a fuck. Tenth.
9. 500 Days of Summer
500 Days of Summer is close to being Garden State wrapped in cutesy narration, but it’s far superior. For one thing, it reintroduced the world to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s dimples. For another, it manages to be a fairly realistic depiction of a shitty millennial relationship without being super fucking depressing. But that’s also kind of the problem—rom coms aren’t supposed to be realistic, they’re supposed to be cliché and feel-good, and I don’t care what you say, Summer is a thot. I have literally stayed up at night mapping how she could have possibly met someone worthy of engagement a mere 118 days after she broke up with Tom, and only six days after attending a wedding as his guest (yes I did the math—I told you; this movie keeps me up at night). No matter how you slice it, she had to have cheated on somebody.
8. Sweet Home Alabama
Full disclosure: As a Southern betch, I’m stoked that Sweet Home Alabama takes place right next door. (Dear Hollywood: An entire country exists between New York and LA.) But even though it features Patrick Dempsey as the other man, Josh Lucas with a dreamy Southern accent, and Reese Witherspoon, there are still some issues. Mainly, WTF WERE YOU THINKING, MELANIE? Did you really dump your future president fiancé for your secret redneck husband just so “the first boy you kissed could also be your last”? I’ve heard of trying to keep your number down, but damn if this isn’t some delusional shit.
7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Everyone on planet Earth can relate to having a batshit crazy family, and that’s exactly what makes My Big Fat Greek Wedding appealing. The two leads are fine, considering they’re not Kate Hudson or Matthew McConaughey, but the extended family is everyone’s favorite part of the movie. Honestly the most memorable moment to come out of this movie is the “put some Windex on it”—pretty good deal for Windex, not so much for the people who actually starred in the movie. However, it does get points for the memorable line: “The man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she pleases.”
6. The Proposal
The plot is pretty flimsy (a Canadian businesswoman has to marry her assistant to avoid deportation) but everyone loves a story where the couple starts out hating each other and eventually falls in love. The cast is what makes this movie pure rom com gold: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, and Betty fucking White, who gifted us with the infamous Native American dance scene. Basically, it’s predictable but ridiculous, making it better than some of the other garbage movies on this list.
5. Knocked Up
Admittedly, Knocked Up is probably to blame for some of the chubby man-child/beautiful, svelte woman couplings we see in the media that give men unrealistic beauty expectations (of the types of women they can expect to date), otherwise known as The Beyoncé/Jay Z Phenomenon. But whatevs. It’s a good movie. Seth Rogen has that whole dad bod thing going on—apparently a thing some people are into—and Katherine Heigl was at the top of her rom com game before she pissed off the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy. Knocked Up is actually hilarious, which is enough to make up for the fact that Katherine Heigl appears in it.
4. Miss Congeniality
Even aside from my undeniable crush on youthful Sandra Bullock, Miss Congeniality is a quintessential early-2000s romantic comedy. Allow me to explain. 1) It stars an ambitious career woman who don’t need no man. 2) But she kind of wants one anyway, and everyone realizes what a catch she is when she puts on lipstick and a dress. 3) Did I mention its plot is literally an extended makeover scene as Bullock goes from bad ass FBI agent to bad ass beauty pageant contestant? I rest my case. Add in some cute female friendships and a scene in which Bullock teaches us how to fend off an attacker, and it’s basically required viewing every year.
3. Love Actually
You had to know Love Actually was going to make the list despite this amazing take-down article of why it’s actually terrible. With approximately a bajillion storylines going on, it’s hard not to find one you like and get invested, and it doesn’t hurt that the film features every well-known British actor under the sun. I’m not sure how the movie manages to juggle all the different plots without being confusing and/or boring, but I’m not gonna question it. However, this shit is TOO FUCKING LONG. If I have to pop an Adderall just to make it through a damn movie (which I do), you need to send your editors back to the drawing board.
2. 27 Dresses
27 Dresses is the perfect example of a rom com that’s super cliché in theory, but in practice, it’s so fucking heartwarming it doesn’t even matter (ugh). Katherine Heigl plays ultimate nicegirl Jane (in case the fact that her name is “Jane” wasn’t enough of a clue), who’s been part of 27 weddings and miraculously hasn’t gone broke from buying all the bridesmaid dresses. The dudes are pretty forgettable, but Jane’s psychotic sister and slutty best friend totally steal the spotlight, elevating the film to truly betchy heights.
P.S. For once, James Marsden plays the leading man, so his preternaturally perfect face gets more screen time, #bless.
1. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Bridget Jones’s Diary is the ultimate feel-good movie, as in it’s literally impossible to watch it without feeling your icy soul thaw ever so slightly at the end. The titular character starts out fat, single, and past the age of 30, so basically our worst nightmare. By the end, though, she manages to bang Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, land a better job, and become a self-described “wanton sex goddess.” If those aren’t your life goals, you clearly need to start your own self-help journey.