The best romantic comedies on Hulu

The best romantic comedies on Hulu

Clockwise from top left: You’ve Got Mail (Screenshot); My Best Friend’s Wedding (Screenshot); Plus One (Screenshot); Palm Springs (Photo: Hulu); Happiest Season (Photo: Hulu); Friends With Kids (Screenshot); 2 Days In Paris (Screenshot)
Clockwise from top left: You’ve Got Mail (Screenshot); My Best Friend’s Wedding (Screenshot); Plus One (Screenshot); Palm Springs (Photo: Hulu); Happiest Season (Photo: Hulu); Friends With Kids (Screenshot); 2 Days In Paris (Screenshot)

Streaming libraries expand and contract. Algorithms are imperfect. Those damn thumbnail images are always changing. But you know what you can always rely on? The expert opinions and knowledgeable commentary of The A.V. Club. That’s why we’re scouring both the menus of the most popular services and our own archives to bring you these guides to the best viewing options, broken down by streamer, medium, and genre. Want to know why we’re so keen on a particular movie? Click the title at the top of each slide for some in-depth coverage from The A.V. Club’s past. And be sure to check back often, because we’ll be adding more recommendations as films come and go.

Some titles on this list also appear on our best movies on Hulu list, but we decided romantic comedy films deserved their own spotlight since they are often not included on our year-end lists as much as other genres. The criteria for inclusion here is that (1) the film is classified by Netflix as a rom-com (2) The A.V. Club has written critically about the movie; and (3) if it was a graded review, it received at least a “B.” Some newer (and much older) movies will be added over time as Netflix announces new additions to their library.

Looking for other movies to stream? Also check out our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime, best movies on Disney+, and best movies on Netflix. And if you’re looking for a non-romantic laugh, check out our list of
the best comedy movies on Hulu.

This list was most recently updated on May 2, 2021.

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2 / 13

2 Days In Paris

2 Days In Paris

Adam Goldberg and Julie Delpy
Adam Goldberg and Julie Delpy
Screenshot: 2 Days In Paris

On paper, Julie Delpy’s 2 Days In Paris might well read like a light French farce, full of wacky characters and playful relationship banter that only turns serious toward the end of the film. The reality is much more raw. Playing a thirtysomething couple making a brief stopover in Paris after a vacation to Italy, Delpy (Before Sunrise) and co-star Adam Goldberg snipe at each other with casual venom, refusing to acknowledge or accede to each other’s calls for comfort or reassurance. When he says she’s special, she shoots back “Like in the retarded way, which is why I’m going out with you.” When she gives him more information than he wants about something, he says “It’s like dating public television.” They both seem a little neurotic and a little self-centered, but mostly, after two years together, they’ve apparently run out of reasons to be kind. And while their give-and-take is almost playful, both actors put an uncomfortable edge on it, fit to keep viewers squirming with alternate waves of sympathy and disgust. [Tasha Robinson]

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3 / 13

Friends With Kids

Friends With Kids

Chris O’Dowd, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Jon Hamm
Chris O’Dowd, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Jon Hamm
Screenshot: Friends With Kids

While it’s true that most romantic comedies merely make minor tweaks to a rusted-out formula, it’s also true that many critics approach rom-coms with a sense of eye-rolling obligation, while solidly unspectacular movies like Lockout get praised to the skies. There’s formula in Jennifer Westfeldt’s directorial debut, but feeling as well. And anyone who thinks it’s far-fetched to see two friends of opposite gender agreeing to raise a child while they continue to date other people hasn’t touched base with single urbanites in their late 30s recently. (It’s absurd, but only by about 10 percent.) If nothing else, the film deserves endless praise for its bombshell kicker, a final line that blasts through the coy innuendo at the heart of most screen romances. [Sam Adams]

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4 / 13

Happiest Season

Happiest Season

Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis in Happiest Season
Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis in Happiest Season
Photo: Hulu

Mix The Family Stone with While You Were Sleeping, add a touch of My Best Friend’s Wedding, and give the whole thing a lesbian makeover, and you’ve got Happiest Season, Hulu’s holiday rom-com starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis. If that makes the film sound a touch derivative, that’s kind of the point. Writer/director/longtime lesbian icon Clea DuVall set out to put a queer spin on the sort of comforting, feel-good holiday romances that straight audiences have been enjoying for decades. And like the similarly trailblazing teen movie Love, Simon, that means Happiest Season feels like nothing you’ve seen before and also like a lot of things you’ve seen before. [Caroline Siede]

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5 / 13

My Best Friend’s Wedding

My Best Friend’s Wedding

Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts
Screenshot: My Best Friend’s Wedding

Rom-coms have happy endings. That fact is such a given that it’s often preemptively held against the genre. Why see a movie when you already know exactly how it’s going to end? It’s ironic, then, that one of the most beloved rom-coms of all time challenges the very nature of what we want from a happy ending. The all-around delightful My Best Friend’s Wedding—more so than maybe any other romantic comedy—benefits from not knowing exactly where things are going. The 1997 film stars Julia Roberts as Julianne Potter, a commitment-phobic restaurant critic who’s sent into a tailspin when she learns her longtime best friend—and one-time college hookup, whom she made a pact to wed if neither were married by 28—Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney) is about to marry the bubbly, 20-year-old White Sox heiress Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz). When Julianne confesses her love and impulsively kisses Michael, it doesn’t make him realize he’s in love with her. It only helps him confirm he’s actually in love with Kimmy. And even though she’s heartbroken, Julianne sets about righting her wrongs, ensuring the wedding goes off without a hitch. There are plenty of meta rom-coms and rom-com parodies, but My Best Friend’s Wedding is something unique. It’s a deconstruction of the romantic comedy genre that’s also a fully functioning, agreeably mainstream version of one. [Caroline Siede]

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6 / 13

The Overnight

The Overnight

Taylor Schilling
Taylor Schilling
Screenshot: The Overnight

New to Los Angeles, where they don’t know a single soul, young parents Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are eager to make friends. So when they’re approached at the park by a fellow parent, the politely bohemian Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), the two accept without hesitation his friendly offer to have them over for dinner, where they can get to know each other while their sons enjoy an arranged playdate. Best case scenario, Emily figures, is that they expand their social circle. Worse case, they’re bored and go home early. There are, of course, multiple shapes an evening with strangers can take, and The Overnight, a sharp comedic export of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, counts on its audience to recognize famous last words when it hears them. The pleasure of the movie lies in the way it both rewards and subverts expectations, delivering on the risqué possibilities of its premise while also coming up with something smarter and a little deeper than a log line might suggest. [A.A. Dowd]

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7 / 13

Palm Springs

Palm Springs

Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg
Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg
Photo: Hulu

Andy Samberg stars as Nyles, a slacker doofus stuck at a destination wedding in Southern California, which he’s attending as the date of a bridesmaid. Blithely wandering the reception in a loud and very informal short-sleeve shirt, Nyles clearly doesn’t have any fucks to give. But he also seems to have a suspiciously premonitory sense of how the night will play out. And before long, Palm Springs reveals the reason for both: He’s stuck in a time warp, waking up every morning to find himself still in Palm Springs on the morning of the wedding. The film employs its magical conceit as a multi-purpose metaphor for a long-term relationship. The flip side, of course, is that monogamy can leave you feeling as stuck as the characters, living the same day over and over again, with only your significant other for company. But Palm Springs wears all that baggage lightly. It’s a sadly rare thing: a sweet, madly inventive, totally mainstream romantic comedy, buoyed by inspired jolts of comic violence (some of them provided by J.K. Simmons as another wedding guest with a very big bone to pick with Nyles). [A.A. Dowd]

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8 / 13

Playing It Cool

Playing It Cool

Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan
Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan
Screenshot: Playing It Cool

The romantic comedy gets little love these days, and with understandable reason—its happily-ever-after formulas have grown so stale that it’s difficult to find much life amidst its predictable, robotic twists and turns. Playing It Cool does not dispense with the genre’s favorite clichés, and in fact, it embraces them wholeheartedly, from the charming hunk who’s more comfortable with one-night stands than commitment, to said protagonist serendipitously discovering his one-true-love, to the off-color banter with a group of wisecracking friends (in this case, Anthony Mackie, Topher Grace, Martin Starr, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson, and Philip Baker Hall). Justin Reardon’s film is, on the face of it, just like the many other rom-coms that flood the multiplex each year. And yet despite its wholesale familiarity, it’s that rare effort that properly delivers the funny-and-amorous goods, thanks in large part to two headliners—Chris Evans and Michelle Monaghan—with enough winning charisma, spot-on comedic timing, and natural chemistry to help invigorate its commonplace material. [Nick Schager]

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9 / 13

Plus One

Plus One

Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid
Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid
Photo: Plus One

Ben (Jack Quaid) and Alice (Maya Erskine) are longtime friends who are both facing down a full summer’s worth of weddings, kicking off with the nuptials of a mutual friend. Because they’re both single—Ben bumbling (some might say picky) in his dwindling relationships, Alice still smarting from a major break-up—they cook up a plan to serve as each other’s plus-one, whenever necessary, throughout the season. They’re willing to double their wedding attendance if the arrangement can provide a trusted wing-person, as well as a commiseration partner for when their potential hook-ups inevitably misfire. Plus One isn’t much more than consistently amusing and sweetly romantic, but in the right hands, those qualities can still feel like a lot. [Jesse Hassenger]

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10 / 13

Something’s Gotta Give

Something’s Gotta Give

Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson
Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson
Screenshot: Something’s Gotta Give

In Something’s Gotta Give, Jack Nicholson plays a man who’s worlds apart from Warren Schmidt, but who comes to wear Schmidt’s knowledge for all the world to see. That adds a touch of gravity to Nancy Meyers’ pleasantly but deceptively lightweight film, a romantic comedy that takes a rare tack by leaving its characters different from how it finds them. Nicholson begins the film as a man happy to keep reminders of aging at arm’s length: He’s driving to a romantic Hamptons weekend with girlfriend Amanda Peet, the latest in his string of nubile twentysomethings. But their getaway is interrupted by the arrival of Peet’s playwright mother, Diane Keaton, then by a mild heart attack that leaves him recuperating in the latter’s beach house. The setup is about as obvious as they come, but Meyers steers away from romantic-comedy clichés until she has no other choice. But mostly, it’s just a pleasure to watch Keaton and Nicholson learning new steps in an old dance, stumbling to grab at happiness before it’s too late. [Keith Phipps]

Available June 1

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11 / 13

The Terminal

The Terminal

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks
Photo: The Terminal

Scripted by Andrew Niccol, Sacha Gervasi, and Jeff Nathanson, The Terminal draws its inspiration from the true story of Iranian dissident Merhan Nasseri, who has been living in Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport since 1988 thanks, at least at first, to a series of political snafus. The film has much softer politics in mind, as it uses JFK as a stage to play out the American immigrant experience in miniature. At first confused, threatened, and hungry—think E.T. in out-of-fashion Eastern European clothing—Tom Hanks becomes resourceful in order to survive, making friends with those who can help him and plugging into the airport economy by returning baggage carts for a quarter a pop. Director Steven Spielberg gives the bulk of the movie over to this upward climb, and even fits love into the picture through Hanks’ makeshift courtship of Catherine Zeta-Jones, a stewardess still in thrall to her latest affair with a married man. Told “America is closed” when he first tries to make his way out of the airport, and continually encouraged to move on and become someone else’s problem by status-quo-minded customs chief Stanley Tucci, Hanks instead finds a little America inside, complete with the opportunity to pursue happiness, though there’s no guarantee that he’ll find it. [Keith Phipps]

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12 / 13

You’ve Got Mail

You’ve Got Mail

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
Screenshot: You’ve Got Mail

Despite the dated dial-up modems and AOL interfaces, 1998’s You’ve Got Mail is remarkably prescient about the fact that the World Wide Web was soon going to have us all writing to each other more than ever before. The film is anchored by the anonymous email correspondence of optimistic Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and cynical Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), who meet in an “over 30” chat room. Little do they know that he owns the Barnes & Noble-esque superstore Fox Books, which is trying to put her small independent children’s bookstore out of business. For all its oddities and imperfections, You’ve Got Mail allowed writer-director Nora Ephron to share her literal and metaphorical neighborhood with the world. [Caroline Siede]

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13 / 13