I am not in love with modern romantic comedies.
Most of these films are shallower than a kiddie pool. They lack originality and true emotion, instead taking the easy road to saccharine sentimentality.
I frankly have better things to do than watch pretty people stare blankly into each other's blank eyes — like have my fingernails yanked out.
But rom-coms don't have to be horrible. They can be good.
And since many of you will be renting romantic comedies to watch with your sweetie today, Valentine's Day, here are 14 contemporary films that are actually smart, funny and — what an idea — romantic.
" (500) Days of Summer" (2009) —Not a romantic comedy per se, although it hits almost every note in the rom-com handbook. Joseph Gordon Levitt soars as a young romantic in love with a woman (Zooey Deschanel) who can't love him back. Told out of order but easy to follow, the film is creative, daring and playful.
"About a Boy" (2002) —Hugh Grant, in one of his best performances, stars as a self-absorbed, immature Londoner who becomes friends with a 12-year-old boy and his oddball mother. Thoroughly engaging and sweet without ever being cloying.
"Amelie" (2001) —A breezy, whimsical fantasy about a young girl who sets love in motion for everyone except herself. Absolutely charming, the film is set in that famed city of love, Paris (so bonus points for romantic factor) —and it's in French.
"Annie Hall" (1977) —Woody Allen's best-picture Oscar winner stars himself as a hopelessly neurotic New Yorker who falls for a hopelessly ditzy woman (Diane Keaton in her iconic role). One of the funniest love stories ever.
"As Good As It Gets" (1997) —Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won Oscars for their roles as a cynical, socially inept author and the single mother/waitress he loves. James L. Brooks' script crackles with one-liners ("Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here").
"Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1994) —One of the most aptly titled rom-coms, this is the film that introduced American audiences to Hugh Grant. He's certainly at his befuddled best here, as his British character falls for an American woman (Andie McDowell).
"Love Actually" (2003) —Speaking of love-struck Brits, this ensemble comedy follows eight couples dealing with their complicated love lives at Christmastime in London. Sentimental but not sappy, with a hint of nostalgia.
"Moonstruck" (1987) —Cher sparkles in her Oscar-winning role as a Brooklyn bookkeeper who is torn between her fiancee and his brother. Olympia Dukakis, as her wise but exasperated mother, is a treat in her beautifully realized, Oscar-winning supporting performance.
"The Princess Bride" (1987) —Rob Reiner's fairy tale is also a very funny, swashbuckling adventure with an endearing heart, and some of the most unforgettable lines ever. Ah, wuv, twue wuv.
"Sideways" (2004) —Practically dripping with a sense of place, this tale set in California's wine country follows a love-scarred Paul Giamatti as he goes through bad decisions and even worse actions.
"Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) —Yes, it really is one of the best romantic comedies ever, and one viewing will show you why. The film is driven by comedic yet poignant performances from Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
"Wall-E" (2008) —It may star two animated robots, but this tale is more romantic than most love stories with humans. And the scene where they dance among the stars is magical.
"When Harry Met Sally" (1989) —I'll have what she's having — a wonderful romantic, comedic road trip through all of love's ups, downs and uncertainties, driven by sharp interplay between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
"While You Were Sleeping" (1995) —Sandra Bullock gives such a winning performance that we overlook her character's deceiving ways as she pretends to be engaged to an unconscious man and becomes deeply involved with his family and brother.
Some classics that started it all
"It Happened One Night" (1934) —Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
"His Girl Friday" (1940) —Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell
"The Philadelphia Story" (1940) —Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
"Adam's Rib" (1949) —Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy
"The Seven Year Itch" (1955) —Marilyn Monroe
"High Society" (1956) —Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra
"The Apartment" (1960) —Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961) —Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard