Kapoor and Sons (2006)

This slice of life in modern India pits family against each other as mores clash, which reminds me (in some ways) of Crazy Stupid Love: when its collision of subplots is funny, it’s absolutely hilarious; when it’s dramatic, it’s downright heart- wrenching. Regardless of where you grew up, life is complicated and people can be hard to love but learning to listen and communicate– despite obstacles– makes all the difference.

Priceless (2006)

The French Riviera is an ideal locale to hobnob with the wealthy; plenty of aging singles are looking for a young romantic companion on whom they can shower gifts. The only catch is you’ll have to trade true love for a lifestyle to which you will quickly grow accustomed. This is not a problem unless…

It’s rare to find a movie this engaging and entertaining. The secret is to cast actors who can carry a scene by conveying a lot of emotion and information without relying on dialogue, which– let’s face it– is usually empty and rambling. Furthermore, this plot is full of twists and turns. Rare for a romantic dramedy!

John Tucker Must Die (2006)

It irks me to have recommended a complex film to someone who watched it while distracted. I know sometimes you want to veg. Well, then here you go:

If you want something in the background, this one fits the bill. I first saw it at a girl’s night (board games and booze) with a group of chatty gals. No hard won victory, no poignant message; just goofy fun at the expense of a cheating high school boyfriend caught by his multiple side chicks, who team up to plot revenge. This movie is the perfect guilty pleasure because it’s pure fun.

Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken (1991)

The perfect film for anyone who appreciates the dedication of an athlete and/or horse lore is set during The Great Depression. Headstrong orphan, Sonora struggles to find a place to belong; she even runs away from her aunt, who plans to turn her over to the state. Captivated by the pageantry of Atlantic City, she ends up joining the circus, where she aspires to be the rider of a diving horse. She agrees to start as a stable hand, falls in love with the horse trainer’s son then goes blind in a devastating accident. But, as the title implies… you get the picture.

Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

It takes a delicate hand to capture modern relationships in all their complexities. That’s not to say there’s no place for humor; the skillful balance of drama–both poignant and entertaining– and humor–both silly and dark– keep this movie from being schmaltzy or condescending. Rather than resorting to flippant stereotypes, the characters are people we know (and perhaps are) and their realistic situation turns familiar tropes on their head. As they reveal what we’re afraid to admit, a little bit of honesty goes a long way and we’re all the better for it.

Sabrina (1995)

This retold tale of Sabrina, who grew up above the carriage house of her chauffeur father’s wealthy employers, isn’t slapdash like the original (1950s) version, which made me uncomfortable and confused. Upon coming-of-age abroad, Sabrina returns as a fully grown– not to mention sophisticated– woman. The two brothers slated to inherit their father’s company, who still attend lavish parties at the old estate, have differing attitudes toward her maturity. Stodgy, responsible Linus tries to shield Sabrina from playboy, David, on whom she had a childhood crush. The fantasy her father hoped would fade is further thwarted by Linus’ plan to woo her as a distraction. But how long can a workaholic loner remain unaffected by such a smart, vibrant and beautiful woman?

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

Campy was never so astute as when former losers, Heather Mooney– still a dour loner– and Romy & Michele– two ditzy optimists, who are still BFFs– form the perfect yin and yang to face an intimidating 10 year reunion. Through facing their bullies, shedding their insecurities and appreciating their true selves (not to mention a little help from Sandy “The Frink-a-zoid” Frink), friendship blossoms.

Mushrooms (1995)

While the food is delectable, the humor is dark and dry. In the same irreverent tone as Harold and Maude, 2 old widows share a big house they inherited from their late husbands. One (an agoraphobe) rents their spare room to a police inspector without realizing the other (a compulsive shoplifter) is confronting an intruder– a fugitive who intends to hide in her bedroom. Needless to say, the living arrangement is dicey. When they end up with a dead body on their hands, the ladies must devise a means of disposal without drawing attention to it or to themselves. At least their charming dispositions have the normally cunning inspector blinded to all their suspicious activity!

On a Clear Day (2005)

How “mad” (as they say in Glasgow) does a man have to be to swim the English Channel? Perhaps driven to despondency by long-term grief and strained relationships with his family then pushed to the brink by unexpected job loss. In need of a challenge, such a man sets his mind to accomplishing a crazy goal. Helping their friend achieve it invigorates orhers’ enthusiasm for their own unfulfilled dreams.

Though the premise of a midlife crisis isn’t original, the interwoven private insecurities of the characters make this particular story special unique and their genuine chemistry makes the it feel relatable. Though it’s inevitably predictable, you can’t help but invest in everyone’s personal struggles and thus rejoice in their triumphs.