There’s a new comedy premiering on ABC at 8:30 tonight called Manhattan Love Story. It’s a love story that takes place in Manhattan. Wow, never seen one of those before. Oh wait, I have. Many times. It seems like the go-to setting for a romantic comedy, classic or contemporary, is New York City. From Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Annie Hall to When Harry Met Sally to You’ve Got Mail to 13 Going on 30, if you name a popular romantic comedy from the past century, odds are it took place in the Big Apple.
It’s not that I don’t like rom-coms set in New York. It’s kind of impossible not to, considering how many great ones are set there. But sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace. So instead of honoring the show’s premiere by reminding you of all the other New York rom-coms we’ve seen, I thought I’d remind you of a few non-New York rom-coms that are also pretty fantastic and fun. And in most of them, the setting actually plays a part in the story, whether it’s through picturesque scenery or an examination of the local culture. Some of the movies on this list do start out in New York City, but most of the story takes place elsewhere, so I think they still count.
To quote Aladdin, I can show you the world… through movies. He didn’t say that last part, but I did.
1. Sleepless in Seattle
Setting: Seattle, Baltimore
Looking for a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks rom-com, but want it to be outside New York? Then You’ve Got Mail is unfortunately out of the question, but what about this one? It’s another Nora Ephron flick, and you’ve got two non-NYC cities to enjoy.
When there are no creepy Ukrainian pranksters around to attack you, Paris is a dream city, even on film. And you don’t get much more charming than Audrey Tautou. And garden gnomes. And photo booths. And just general adorableness.
Setting: Beverly Hills
Clueless is pretty much defined by its setting. If it didn’t take place in Beverly Hills, it just wouldn’t be the same movie. And we probably wouldn’t be watching it on TV every single weekend. And that would be really sad.
4. Roman Holiday
Like a lot of girls, I went through an Audrey Hepburn phase in my preteen years, and this easily became my favorite of her movies. Even in black and white, Rome’s charm comes across, and you’ll walk away ready to book a plane ticket.
5. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Who knew Renee Zellweger would make such a great British lady? The “Colin Firth being charming” part I totally expected, but it didn’t make it any less delightful.
6. The Philadelphia Story
If you haven’t seen this Katharine Hepburn classic, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself. In other words, go watch it right this second!
7. Sweet Home Alabama
8. Bride & Prejudice
Setting: Amritsar, India
This is the third movie on this list so far that reinvents a Jane Austen novel. Can you name the other two? As for this one, it’s a very colorful, very fun Bollywood take on Pride and Prejudice.
9. Lost in Translation
We can argue all day about whether or not this counts as a romantic comedy, but I’m going to put it on here anyway, so there!
10. 50 First Dates
Sure, it’s pretty creepy that Drew Barrymore ends this movie waking up every day on a strange boat with a strange family, but the stuff before that was pretty cute. Please don’t make fun of me.
11. What’s Up, Doc?
Setting: San Francisco
This is a hilarious send-up of classic screwball comedies from the 1930s, and it features Barbra Streisand being fabulous, so what more could you ask for? Oh, you want a madcap chase scene through the streets of San Fran? You got it!
12. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Sometimes Woody Allen manages to make a movie not set in New York City, and sometimes those movies actually manage to be good. Also full of very attractive people.
Tell us what other non-NYC rom-coms you’d add to the list in the comments!