Many of our favorite '90s romantic comedies are already considered classics. There are iconic scenes, lines, and plot tropes that are still used or referenced in modern rom-coms and come straight from movies like
Notting Hill, My Best Friend's Wedding, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail. But while these Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan hits earn their lasting reputation, there are also many forgotten '90s rom-coms worth revisiting.
While you can probably guess how almost every romantic comedy ends, a number of these movies might just surprise you. They aren't all your typical and predictable boy-meets-girl stories. Some of them are progressive, exploring relationships outside of heteronormativity, love after marriage, love in your 40s, and even love without sex. And some of them provide a huge dose of nostalgia heading by some of the decade's most underrated stars.
Aside from great storylines, these forgotten rom-coms also feature some overlooked romantic pairings. So if you want to see Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier, Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs, Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck, and Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei (Yes,
Tony Stark and Aunt May were in a rom-com together!) love it up onscreen, you need to check out these neglected movies ASAP.
'The Truth About Cats & Dogs'
Veterinarian Abby Barnes (Janeane Garofalo) hosts a successful radio show called "The Truth About Cats and Dogs." When one of her callers, a handsome guy named Brian (Ben Chaplin) asks to meet her in person, she asks her model friend Noelle (Uma Thurman) to step in for her in a
Sierra Burgess is a Loser -esque switcheroo.
'While You Were Sleeping'
Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a Chicago Transit Authority token collector and a hopeless romantic. Everyday, she sees handsome commuter Peter (Peter Gallagher), and develops a huge crush on him. One day, she saves his life and he falls into a coma. At the hospital Peter's family mistakes her as his fiancée, and when they discover what a wonderful person she is over time — especially Peter's brother's Jack (Bill Pullman) — it gets more difficult for Lucy to tell the truth.
Nicole (Melissa Joan Hart) and Chase (Adrian Grenier) have grown up right next door to each other. And though they're neighbors, they come from completely different parts of their junior high school's status quo. But when their respective significant others dump them, Nicole cooks up a plan that'll get her a date to the school centennial, and make Chase's ex jealous.
Reality Bites is a rom-com that takes off those rose-colored glasses. Lelaina (Winona Ryder), the valedictorian of her college class, makes a mock documentary about life after school with her friends — finding jobs, navigating relationships, figuring out their sexuality, and everything else in between. Along the way, Lelaina meets Michael (Ben Stiller), a video executive who takes her homemade video to his station, and soon they become an item. But things get far more complicated when her best friend Troy (Ethan Hawke) expresses his feelings for her.
Comic book artist Holden McNeill (Ben Affleck) falls for Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), who he perceives to be the perfect woman for him. She's also a lesbian, but Holden doesn't back down.
'How Stella Got Her Groove Back'
Queen of Wakanda Angela Bassett is Stella Payne, a highly successful, forty-something stock broker and full-time mom, and it's been a while since she's kicked back and relaxed. Her best friend Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) is able to convince her to go to Jamaica, where Stella meets Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs). Because of their age difference, their relationship becomes the talk of the town.
'The Mirror Has Two Faces'
Gregory Larkin (Jeff Bridges) is a math professor at Columbia University who's given up on sex, as he thinks it ruined his past relationships. He meets Columbia English Literature professor Rose Morgan (Barbra Streisand), whose company he enjoys, and whom he eventually falls in love with without having had any sexual contact. But Rose realizes she can't go on living without the physical aspect of the relationship.
Amanda Shelton (Sarah Michelle Gellar) inherits a restaurant but has trouble picking up business. That all changes when a mysterious man sells her some magical shellfish that works wonders for her culinary skills. Soon, everything she feels translates to what her customers experience when they eat her food. But the only person she's really looking to please is a department store executive named Tom (Sean Patrick Flanery).
As a teen, Faith Corvatch (Marisa Tomei) was told her soulmate's name, and that carnival fortuneteller's words stuck with her, even until her wedding day. When she gets a call from the mysterious Damon Bradley, she ditches the wedding and chases her destiny to Italy. Instead she meets and eventually falls in love with an impostor, played by Robert Downey Jr.
Mickey Gordon (Billy Crystal) is a vertically-challenged basketball referee who has a great sense of humor. He travels to France to bury his father, and meets Ellen Andrews (Debra Winger) — an American living in Paris who happens to work for the airline Mickey flies. They fall in love, and eventually get married. But, as with any married couple, they've gone through some very rough patches.
Forget Paris is a flashback to their relationship, as told by friends.
Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) sees the last party of high school as his opportunity to pursue newly single Queen Bee Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt). The night becomes a total rager, filled with booze, sex, and other teens looking to complete their own agendas. It stars a bunch of '90s faves, including Melissa Joan Hart, Seth Green, and Jerry O'Connell.
Kate Mosely (Jennifer Aniston) has felt a lot of pressure as a single woman, thanks to the terrible dating scene, her mom asking her for a grandchild, and society telling her to couple up. One day, she meets "the one" — a bad boy named Sam (Kevin Bacon). But in order to get his attention, she has to pretend to be a bad girl, and recruits Nick (Jay Mohr) to pretend to be a fiancé she's cheating on. But as she tries to keep the charade going, Nick's feelings for her become real.
Scientists Paul Matthews (Tate Donovan) and Diane Farrow (Sandra Bullock) are unlucky in love, so they develop a chemical formula that makes them absolutely irresistible with just one uttered word. But soon, the two discover that despite attracting the men and women of their dreams, they only have feelings for each other.
Ben Holmes (Ben Affleck) is trying to make it to his wedding. But it seems that nature's got other plans as his plane is grounded. He winds up sharing a car with the eccentric Sarah (Sandra Bullock), and he starts to have serious doubts.
Martin Blank (John Cusack) is a professional hitman on a mission to a small Detroit suburb, which also happens to be his hometown. The trip also just happens to coincide with his high school reunion. He reconnects with former sweetheart (Minnie Driver), but his job intrudes on their rekindled flame.
American Brontë Parrish (Andie McDowell) and Frenchman Georges Fauré (Gérard Depardieu) enter into a marriage of convenience after their mutual friend Anton introduces them. They thought they would never have to see each other again, but when authorities come knocking on Georges' door, the two have to make it look like they're a real married couple. In the process of pretending to be in love, they actually fall head-over-heels for one another, despite their differences.
'Four Weddings And A Funeral'
The film follows Charlie (Hugh Grant) as he and his close friends all attend a succession of weddings, and one unfortunate funeral. At the first event, he meets and is enamored by Carrie (Andie McDowell). He keeps running into her, but fate seems to be keeping them from really hitting it off.
'It Could Happen To You'
When police officer Charlie Lang (Nicolas Cage) goes into a restaurant, he leaves a lottery ticket for waitress Yvonne (Bridget Fonda) in place of a tip. The number wins, and Charlie and Yvonne begin to form a bond, while Charlie's wife (Rosie Perez) gets swept up in her new lifestyle.
Astronomer Sam (Matthew Broderick) gets dumped by the love of his life Linda (Kelly Preston) and decides to follow her to New York. Maggie (Meg Ryan) is a photographer and motorcyclist who wants to get revenge on Anton, Linda's new beau and her ex-fiancé. The two team up in an attempt to split their respective former significant others apart, but they wind up falling in love with each other in the process.
Ed Walters (Tim Robbins) is an car mechanic who falls in love with physicist and all-around intellectual Catherine Boyd (Meg Ryan). But the problem is Catherine is already engaged to a stuffy professor (Stephen Fry). Luckily, Catherine's uncle —none other than Albert Einstein himself (Walter Matthau) — is on Ed's team.
Julia Mann (Geena Davis) and Kevin Vallick (Michael Keaton) meet each other at the gift shop of the New Mexico hotel where they're both staying and sparks fly as they bond over their insomnia and their similar experiences as writers. To their surprise, they meet each other again on the job, and discover that they are now both speechwriters for opposing electoral candidates. Now they have to navigate their relationship as they work for separate campaigns.
Three to Tango is what would happen if Mia and Winston from Pulp Fiction actually got together. Wealthy businessman Charles Newman (Dylan McDermott) mistakenly believes that his new colleague Oscar Novak (Matthew Perry) is gay, and so he asks him to watch over his mistress Amy Post (Neve Campbell). Oscar plays along, but eventually falls in love with her. He doesn't know how to confess his feelings to the woman that he loves or correct the broader assumption about his sexuality.
'The Object Of My Affection'
Nina Borowski (Jennifer Aniston) finds the perfect roommate in George Hanson (Paul Rudd). They live together in their cozy Brooklyn apartment, and become the best of friends. They have tuna casserole dinners, go to the carnival, and attend ballroom dancing classes together. Nina finds herself falling in love with George, who's gay. The movie is all about exploring their platonic love, and how Nina deals with her confusing feelings.
There's much more to the '90s than just its biggest box office successes, so try one of these the next time you plan a rom-com night.