The 2000s may be defined by questionable fashion choices and cringey teenage memories, but those ten years gave us some top-quality rom-coms. However, did these flicks adequately prepare us for our future dating lives or did they create super unrealistic expectations of what love is really like? Here are 10 films that arguably fall into the latter category.
The Princess Diaries
If you’re a child of the ’90s and can’t admit to majorly crushing on Michael Moscovitz, you’re kidding yourself. His steadfast love for Princess Mia was enough to melt the coldest of hearts, and their eventual first kiss in a garden full of fairy lights and fountains is the kind of perfect romantic fantasy that we all hope for (and never get). Plus, this particular pairing gave hope to all of us girls who had crushes on their BFF’s older brother. As much as I love Chris Pine, I like to pretend that the second film didn’t happen. Michael and Mia were my original relationship goals.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
This is the first episode in a two-part drama I call “Why Can’t I Just Marry Colin Firth Already?” Bridget Jones led me to believe that I could somehow snag a super hot, super smart lawyer who wears dorky Christmas jumpers while still indulging in regular Ben and Jerry’s binges in my PJs. While I’m still doing the latter, the former hasn’t materialized. COLIN, WHERE ARE YOU?
For pretty much all of my adult life, I’ve been looking for a love so beautiful and pure that it wouldn’t look out of place in this movie. I know it’s unlikely. I’m probably never going to incredibly swiftly overcome a language barrier in order to marry Colin Firth (still bitter). I’ll never have a really badly hidden romance with the British Prime Minister (mainly because Theresa May isn’t exactly comparable in sexiness to Hugh Grant). I’m not going to overcome the pain of grieving by falling for a Claudia Schiffer lookalike. But by god, I can (and will) dream. I’ll get my Christmas miracle one day… right?!
The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Otherwise known as “the one where Lizzie FINALLY got with Gordo,” the movie spinoff of one of the best teen series ever made was an ode to anyone who’s had a serious, long-term crush. Gordo had been pining after Lizzie for years but waited patiently for years for her to come around. In real life, not everyone gets this happy ending, though. My own dating history is a testament to that. The amount of time I spent waiting for crushes to realize what they were missing is frankly ridiculous. Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be.
Just Like Heaven
Ah, pre-Incredible Hulk Mark Ruffalo. I still have completely unrealistic expectations of love thanks to your unwavering dedication to saving Reese Witherspoon’s life, even though you’d only met her in ghost form. You even kept on loving her when she had no idea who you were and what you’d done for her! Where can I find a man as good-hearted and passionate as you? Oh, that’s right, nowhere, because HE DOESN’T EXIST. I’m still mad about that.
Pride and Prejudice
This 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel triggered the Mr. Darcy complex in the ’90s generation. Who doesn’t want a handsome, rich gentleman to emerge out of the morning mist and whisk them away to his huge country estate? Elizabeth Bennett falling for the rude, condescending, yet broodingly handsome Darcy gave off a huge “bad boys are sexy” vibe. Darcy’s eventual redemption added to the completely ridiculous myth that jerks can be “changed” by the right woman (but only after they’ve insulted you, tried to ruin your sister’s life, and served you with the most backhanded proposal ever). Dream on, ladies.
This is such a cute and underrated film. It came out when I was about 12, and it was one of the major causes of my hopeless romanticism. Firstly, a star-crossed couple separated for decades finally make it back to one another: adorable! Then, hero’s love for his heroine is so pure that she literally glows with heavenly starlight. It’s just too much. No wonder I was single for most of my teenage years: no teen boy can live up to THAT.
A part of me still wants to find love on a Greek island with ABBA songs playing in the background, and it’s all thanks to this film. It’s the ultimate tourism ad: come on holiday to Europe! You might get back with your ex from 20 years ago who may or may not have had your kid without telling you! Hey, you might even marry her when said secret kid decides that 20 really IS too young to be married! Marrying someone you’ve not seen for two decades—what could possibly go wrong? And yet, I still cheer whenever I see Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep make it down the aisle. It’s madness, but I’m down for it. Just not with any of my own exes.
This film is a hotbed of unrealistic cliches. Protagonists go from deep hatred to intense love in the space of a weekend: check. They have to fake being in love but inevitably start to actually fall for each other: check. Betty White is a complete legend: check. Despite all of this ridiculousness, I still religiously watch this film whenever it’s on TV. I also hold out hope that my future husband would marry me to get me a green card that allows us to date, despite this being a bloody logistical nightmare.
Hear me out on this one. A giant green ogre probably isn’t the first image that jumps into your mind when you think ‘rom-com’, but Shrek actually provides a lot of fuel for the hopeless romantics out there. It’s the ultimate ‘love conquers all’ story, after all! However, there’s a limit to the boundaries that love can transcend in the real world. Call me a cynic, but the species barrier MIGHT be a bit too far. Dragon and Donkey, I’m looking at you. That love story should’ve been left to die.
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