There was a time, believe it or not, when the romantic comedy wasn’t a trial by fire on the first date.  There were romantic comedies that both genders could enjoy, because they were, you know, actually funny.  If you’re staring down the barrel of the next unfunny romantic comedy and want to get out of it, here are ten suggestions you’ll both enjoy…

10. His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday admitted has an unfair advantage in the romantic comedy department: it stars Cary Grant and is directed by Howard Hawks.

The machine-gun dialogue, combined with Grant’s natural charisma and improv skills (he mentions the feared criminal Archie Leach at one point: that’s Grant’s real name), make for a hilarious movie as an ex-husband and wife team of reporters solve a mystery and, of course, fall back in love, screwing over her husband-to-be, Ralph Bellamy (who else?)

9. Four Weddings and a Funeral

By far the most brilliant movie made about weddings, because unlike most movies, it’s honest about how excruciating a wedding can be if you’re not the one getting married, right from the beginning when our protagonists are late.

You kind of have to love a comedy featuring a lecherous deaf guy and has “Shit!” as its only line of dialogue for the opening ten minutes.

8. The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Wait, you say.  Isn’t this supposed to be a raunchy comedy?  Doesn’t the opening of this movie feature Seth Rogen talking about going to see a donkey show in Tijuana?  Well, yes.  But it’s also a sincere look at relationships.

As a movie about male friendship and how men handle relationship problems, there really isn’t a better movie out there.  And you have to like how Andy actually forms a relationship with the woman he loses it to.  It’s raunchy AND romantic!

7. Bringing Up Baby

Notable in that it’s one of the few times Cary Grant played the straight man, and also for having the single best gay joke in the history of cinema, Bringing Up Baby also has the advantage of being completely, utterly lunatic.

The “Baby” in question is a jaguar, being kept by Katherine Hepburn (yes, really).  And from that relatively simple situation, it completely snowballs.

6. Romancing the Stone

Featuring Michael Douglas in a rare non-sleazeball role and Kathleen Turner as a romance novelist who barely goes outside, Romancing The Stone proved Robert Zemeckis could direct romance AND action.

It also proved, despite his latest films to the contrary, that he could take a camera outside and film real things instead of actors covered in ping-pong balls.

5. 10 Things I Hate About You

What’s a teen comedy doing on this list?  Well, because it was written by somebody who didn’t think teenagers were utterly stupid. 10 Things works beautifully at bringing The Taming of the Shrew into the modern day while satirizing the standard teen comedy and actually being funny.

Plus it’s kind of fun to see The Joker and that guy who did the Singin’ In The Rain number on SNL in a movie together.

4. Legally Blonde

We like this movie for two reasons: one, Reese Witherspoon in a bunny suit, which the movie actually uses effectively as a gag and plot exposition.  Two, it’s actually got some subtlety to it.

Don’t believe us?  Watch any scene with the UPS man, and turn up the volume to catch the background music.  It’s the one time you’ll actually enjoy hearing K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

3. Down With Love

Down With Love is pretty much a joyous throwback to the romantic comedies of the ’60s, complete with set design and Ewan McGregor being a total cad and getting away with it.

The difference, of course, is they have better money and a bit more of a refined sensibility when it comes to, say, women’s rights.

2. The Apartment

“I love you, Mrs. Kubelik.”  “Shut up and deal.”

Romance, Billy Wilder style.

Wilder actually wrote a surprising number of romantic comedies: Irma La Doche, Some Like It Hot, the exceptionally disturbing The Major and the Minor, but for our money, this one’s the best, partially because we’ve been obsessively watching “Mad Men” for the last two weeks, and partially because it shows that Shirley Maclaine, before she went crazy, had some real talent.

1. It Happened One Night

One of the classics, It Happened One Night details Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert going across the country to basically have Gable wreck Colbert’s marriage.

To be fair, he IS Clark Gable.  That’s difficult to compete with.