For whatever reason, the 1990s were a golden age of romantic comedies. Whether you love them or hate them, you couldn't escape these flicks during that decade. But like many other trends from the era, they look a little different once you're a bit older and wiser. In fact, there are loads of '90s rom-coms you will look at differently as an adult. Although it may feel strange to watch these films on a streaming service instead of a VHS, you will probably enjoy the nostalgia factor alone.
But like everything else, some of these films stand the test of time better than others. Looking back on them some 20 years later, the films do feel pretty uniform: their characters are overwhelmingly white, straight, cis, and (more or less) middle class. There are some exceptions, of course, but for the most part these movies aren't as diverse as more modern flicks. And when you really dig into them, the movies have some strange dynamics at play and some things that make you go hmmm.
That said, it's still fun to look back and reminisce. Fortunately, the fashions are just as radical as you remember, and the soundtracks just might inspire you to get a new playlist. As far as the plots, well, they will probably make you realize just how much older and wiser you have become in the past two decades.
1. 'Runaway Bride'
Then: Julia Roberts starred as a lady with a history of leaving her fiancés at the alter. Can journalist Richard Gere help change her mind? It's a lovely film about finding the right person for your love life.
Now: Could she just not get married? You can just live together for a while, you know.
2. 'Never Been Kissed'
Then: Drew Barrymore stars as a journalist who goes undercover at her old high school for a story. It's a positive movie that proves ugly ducklings can get a second chance.
Now: The student-teacher relationship is a little on the skeevy side, right? Although Barrymore's character is actually 25, she is a student in his high school class.
3. 'You've Got Mail'
Then: Although in real life Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are at odds in the professional world, they fall in love over a series of anonymous emails.
Now: It's like a cute version of catfishing. Also, the original website is adorable.
4. 'Pretty Woman'
Then: It's a version of My Fair Lady featuring a corporate bigwig and a hooker with a heart of gold. It shows love is greater than status and money.
Now: The whole prostitution plot is a little darker than you might have remembered. However, Julia Roberts is still fantastic.
5. 'Chasing Amy'
Then: This is an edgy film in which a straight man and lesbian fall in love. It's cutting-edge.
Now: OK, so some of the lesbian storyline relies on stereotype, but it's still a pretty groundbreaking film in terms of gender identity and fluidity. Although, a word to straight guys: you probably can't "turn" a lesbian straight.
6. 'The Truth About Cats & Dogs'
Then: It's a hip film about the smart-but-homely lady who uses her gorgeous-but-not-as-bright friend to help win a man.
Now: The smart versus pretty idea feels dated now. And in what universe is Janeane Garofalo the homely character?
7. 'As Good As It Gets'
Then: Jack Nicholson learns to deal with his obsessive-compulsive disorder to charm single mother Helen Hunt.
Now: Although the frank portrayal of mental illness was striking, the idea that love can cure OCD might be a bit off-putting to anyone who struggles with the disorder in real life.
8. '10 Things I Hate About You'
Then: It's a sweet reimagining of Taming of the Shrew with Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. For some reason, the '90s loved modernized Shakespeare (see also: Romeo + Juliet).
Now: The film holds up, and the soundtrack, complete with ska tracks, is also excellent.
9. 'Fools Rush In'
Then: When an unexpected pregnancy occurs, an architect and a photographer must decide how to fit their careers and family expectations in with this surprising life twist.
Now: You might feel for the difficulty of the characters' decisions more as an adult. Also, Salma Hayek is fantastic.
10. 'While You Were Sleeping'
Then: It's a wacky story in which Sandra Bullock pretends to be the fiancée of a comatose man. She does find her true love along the way.
Now: When the man awakens from his coma, and has no idea who Bullock is, he is assumed to have amnesia. And she doesn't come clean right away. That's pretty messed-up.
11. 'My Best Friend's Wedding'
Then: A woman's marriage-pact buddy decides to get engaged to someone else. The one left in the friend zone, Julia Roberts, does everything in her power to break up the wedding.
Now: The women-fighting-for-a-man plot is a little old, but Roberts' eventual decision to gracefully maintain her friendship is still praiseworthy. However, if a real-life friend tried this hard to break up any healthy relationship of mine, I'd be very suspicious and probably end the friendship.