Digital Polyphony

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Top 25 Romance Movies for Guys                                                            (a.k.a. Romantic Movies that Won't Emasculate You)

Women love their romance. They love the ideal relationship of a guy sweeping them off their feet and showering them with love and affection. 

Then you have guys....and those things that women love can turn a little obligatory to them. Especially when it comes to watching romance movies. But, I like to think there's always a middle ground on everything. Many guys might throw out the notion of finding a good romance film that they, too, can enjoy. Does such a thing exist? Can we watch a romance movie (especially a romantic comedy) that we can find enjoyment in? 

Yes. They do exist, and here's 25 of them you can get at your rental store, grab some popcorn and enjoy with your significant other. This way, she gets what she wants (sort of) and you're entertained at the same time.

Note: In the sections labeled "If it were made for women" - it does not, in any way, mean women won't like the movie or not get it. It's more of a broad statement regarding how it would be reconfigured to be marketed solely for the Sex in the City/Sandra Bullock/Reece Witherspoon romantic movie formula that is as boring and cliched, predictable and unnecessary as a Michael Bay film.

25: Punch Drunk Love

From the writer/director of Magnolia and Boogie Nights, you know you're in for something slightly off-beat. Punch Drunk Love is like a romance movie stripped down to a series of awkward moments and uncomfortable situations. In other words: reality. Adam Sandler plays the reclusive and socially malfunctioning Barry who works out of a storage garage and wears the same blue suit every day. He has a family who shuns him, always asking "what's wrong with you?" (and not nicely) and seems bored with his life to where he starts being embezzled by a sex-phone operator all because he called and just wanted to talk. That is, until Lena shows up. Then it turns into a combination of romance with a slight bit of obsession and stalking thrown in. 

Made For Men: Barry is pretty dysfunctional, and not in the cute charming Ben Stiller way. He feels like a real person with real problems, when those problems become the girls he starts to like, it can be pretty relateable to a guy.

If it were made for women: Lena would be a bigger focus, she is just one of many issues Barry has to deal with along with his business, the sex-phone operator and her "pimp," his sisters and the little piano/organ someone just dumped outside of his "office." Those off-beat moments would be thrown out.


24: The Brothers McMullen

A movie showing three brothers and the problems in their various relationships: all at very different stages. One is married and having an affair, one fears commitment yet is falling in love and the other is having serious issues regarding premarital sex and abortion (yeah, that one gets a little heavy). A comedy about three guys and their rather fucked up lives. This is a "talky" movie, but because these guys represent someone other guys probably know and they talk about real issues, it's become more of a guy-movie classic.

Made for Men: Specifically, Catholic-Irish Long Island men. This is New York for New Yorkers. Everything about these guys screams it.

If it were made for women: Switch the sexes, just like that. Then you'd have Sex and the City. But wait, it's a little too witty and not as superficial as Sex and the City, so have lots of designer labels, have them talk about clothing and shoes and drink cosmopolitans...oh and throw in a horse to replace Sarah Jessica Parker.


23: Starman

 John Carpenter wasn't always a horror director. In fact, he once did a romance movie. It's like ET, except the visitor looks human and falls for the person that finds him. In this case the alien is Jeff Bridges and the love interest is Karen Allen. Starman isn't a "sweep you off your feet" type of romantic movie, it's better than that. Instead, it's a subtle and touching story that is typical boy-meets-girl only this time the boy is an alien that takes the form of a woman's dead husband. His mission is to discover and explore what humanity is, of course that is going to involve love. It's about letting go more than it is falling in love and is actually rather beautiful in doing so.

Made for Men: In a way, Bridges's character asks the questions most men want to ask yet never do or do the things most men feel they're too old to do. He's charming yet juvenile, a big kid in a way. 

If it were made for women: It would be pretty standard fare if redone with solely a woman's perspective in mind. I think women can get into liking it, but if were solely made and marketed to them, you would be given a much broader comedy that would probably try too hard. In this case it would still concentrate on Allen, only it would be a less subtle in its emotion and put more emphasis on her falling in love with the alien rather than trying to let go of her dead husband. Learning to let go is just as romantic as grabbing on and not wanting to let go (see #2 on this list).


22: Edward Scissorhands

Almost a satire of romance movie, Tim Burton's first collaboration with Johnny Depp is still among his best (being only slightly nudged out by Ed Wood). It's gloomy and Gothic, yet is also full of heart and sincerity. It has the standard story that drives most romance movies but has that quintessential Burton spin on it all. It's like reality, but not and instead it's a classic fantasy tale of surrealist imagery and heartfelt beauty.

Made for men: The Tim Burton aesthetic is what the guys like. It's dark, creepy even, and Edward isn't the usual romantic lead a person thinks of when it comes to a romance movie. I mean...he does have scissors...for hands.

If it were made for women: Let's be honest, it kinda is. You have Johnny Depp still, somehow, able to be sexually appealing (I think it's the tight leather) and the perfect girl who falls in love with him. It doesn't really end the way a woman might like, but the path is something that usually falls in their department and is pretty predictable. Edward is just a misunderstood outsider who falls for the normal girl of the neighborhood. Wait...that sounds like Twilight. Well, this isn't shitty so screw you Stephanie Meyer.


21: Ladyhawke

Ladyhawke is fantasy porn. Simple as that. Think of fantasy. Your made up lands, knights in swords, magic...then throw in the idea that your main character, a peasant and thief (that may or may not be carrying a Mace +1) meets a wandering black knight who carries with him a pet hawk. Strangely, every night, the knight would take his hawk away in secret, moments later a beautiful woman would appear. Also the black knight turns into a wolf, but we don't care about him. The woman is cursed by a jealous lover because she ran off with the knight and now our hero has three days to get them both to the Bishop that cursed them to break the spell. It's kind of like Shrek, only not funny and a little bloodier.

Made for Men: Let me tell you of the times of High Adventure! Lots of sword and sorcery stuff here. It's written and acted as though it's an ancient mythological tale. Also Michelle Pfeiffer is absolutely gorgeous in the this movie. I

If it were made for women: There would be a less concentration on Phillipe, the hero, and more on the curse itself and the woe-is-me nature of it all. 


20: As Good as it Gets

More of a slice-of-life scenario that culminates in two neighbors, one gay and the other a cranky obsessive compulsive, travel with a single mother for a weekend to help her son. Over time, Jack's character begins to realize he has feelings to Helen, and maybe he can start seeing life a little differently just for her. Flawless acting, Oscars awarded, brilliant screenplay and a legendary director in James L. Brooks.

Made for men: Jack is the asshole guys want to be.

If it were made for women: Kinnear's character would be straight, but Jack, the quirky neighbor, is standing between him and Helen. The only way Helen can get close to Greg is going on a trip...that Jack is invited on...wackiness ensues!  Jack isn't McDreamy and the thoughts of him as a romantic lead to women would never fly.



19: High Fidelity

John Cusack takes us through his history with women, and let's just say it's pretty hit and miss. He runs the gamut of styles and types of women he's dated and had relationships with, all somehow ending in failure for one reason or another. He's not a "bad" guy, but sometimes things just doesn't click with the opposite sex, and sadly the one girl he truly loves is with a Steven Segal impersonator played by Tim Robbins. Fantastic dialogue and lines left and right and based on the book by Nick Hornby (who also wrote About a Boy, another interesting romance movie that guys might enjoy). One of the best: "John Dillinger was killed behind that theater in a hale of FBI gunfire. And do you know who tipped them off? His fucking girlfriend. All he wanted to do was go to the movies."

Made for men: In Ferris Bueller-esque fashion, most of the film consists of John Cusack talking to the camera and telling us about his failed relationships. Sometimes they're on him, sometimes they're on the crazy women he was with.

If it were made for women: Those women aren't crazy, they're just misunderstood. Because John talks directly to the audience, its easy to relate to even for women. But John would not be the floundering middle-aged guy, he would be the quirky 30-something that just can't seem to find the right girl. He has a nice New York apartment and drives a Mercedes. But, darnit, what lucky girl is he finally going to connect with? Then Meg Ryan shows up.


18: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

It's hard to describe this film in a mere few sentences. A lot happens, bad and good, and it's really all over the place. One part that is easy to describe, though, is the fact it all boils down to two people in love and, by some sort of fate, are destined to be together. Personally, I think this is Jim Carrey's best film and Charlie Kaufman's best screenplay. Strangely, despite the outrageous nature of mind erasing, the film's approach to how people love and deal with relationships is rather realistic with both Carrey and Winslet bringing a certain amount of credibility to their characters with their spot-on (pun intended) acting.

Made for Men: Subtle romance combined with a rather ambitious and weird script that involves quite a bit of science fiction.

If it were made for women: The sci-fi element wouldn't be in there, it's too non-formulaic and already confusing as is. When it comes to romance movies geared towards the female audience "confusing" is definitely not what you want. It needs to be restructured, be more linear and have a bigger concentration on Winslet's character than the problems with Carrey's.


17: The Wedding Singer

Adam Sandler movies all seem to follow a similar formula. Sandler lays an an odd character, either mentally or career-wise, who falls in love with a woman he supposedly can't be with. The Wedding Singer is no different...only it takes in the mighty era known as the 1980s. The style, the slang, the love of the pop culture and music is all found here, and then you have Adam, mullet hair and gaudy suits, living the dream of singing top 80s tunes and getting paid for it. 

Made for men: 1980s tunes and clothing is far more entetaining that anything regarding lov....wait, its' Billy Idol! 

If it were made for women: This is actually the one film, other than number 12, that follows the typical romantic/ romcom structure. So really, nothign would be changed. It's just the soundtrack and reliving the crazy 80s is so appealing to guys, they can get past the bullshit of Boy meets perfect if not misunderstood girl, boy loses girl by doing something stupid and hurting her feelings, boy gets girl back and has to deal with funny situation on the way.


16: "10"

Considered one of the more influential romantic comedies, 10 tells the story of a middle-aged man who is having difficulties in his relationship, having failure after failure, until he just catches a glimpse of one of the most gorgeous women he's ever scene (played by Bo Derek). His relationship on the decline, his spying of he neighbor who makes porn, and his complete obsession over the woman he saw results in one thing: stalking. Despite things maybe working out, loving from afar isn't real and reality hits George (Dudley Moore)  like a ton of bricks.

Viewers should also check out Blake Edwards' "Arthur," another romanctic comedy that is geared towards men and also starring Dudley Moore.

Made for men: Dudley Moore is so much fun in this movie. This film and his performance set the standard for movies like There's Something About Mary, Wedding Crashers and Meet the Parents.

If it were made for women: Less creepy stalking. Of course our "10" seems perfectly okay with it, though.


15: Last of the Mohicans

I find it odd that this old theatrical poster has the small photo near the center showing Day-Lewis and Stowe in a loving embrace, yet every other image, DVD, VHS, you name it, has it removed. Why? Well, it's better known for its action and visual beauty over what it really is: a romance story. It's simple: man gonna get his woman back, he's gotta kick ass and take names to do it.

Made for Men: Hawkeye is just an all-around bad-ass.

If it were made for women: It almost is. Daniel Day-Lewis embodies everything a woman would want a man to be and do during Colonial times, he's right out of a dime-store romance novel. Then you have the fighting and mother didn't like that part.





14: Annie Hall

Many Woody Allen romance movies can be appealing to guys. I'm a fan of Manhattan myself, but I must throw out my fondness of that film for what is considered Woody Allen's best movie. It's quirky, funny and believable. Annie Hall was a departure at the time for Allen, concentrating less on screwball comedy and taking a more serious route. He doesn't diminish his ability to make us laugh in the process, though. Annie Hall is a familiar story for anyone who's been on the dating scene and its able to resonate in our own minds our own senses of awkwardness and romance.

Made for men: It's Woody Allen. Women usually don't like his movies, especially if he's the "romantic lead." Plus, like much of his films, his observations of love and relationships ore often brutally honest and real. 

If it were made for women: It would be less cynical and would not have Woody Allen. In other words, anything with word "Woody" in it will probably turn women off.


13: An Officer and a Gentleman

Despite the title reminiscent of a gay porno, this film is a combination of a classic romance movie, so something for the ladies, but is best known for the boot camp and drill instructor, played by Louis Gossett Jr. who made his career playing characters like this. It's not just a love story about a recruit meeting a factory worker while out on the town, then falling for her, it's about how he deals with his own life and the military training, as he says he has "nowhere else to go."

Made for Men: Seeing Gossett Jr. berate Richard Gere at any given moment is one of the best things of the movie. It's powerful and sometimes even funny. the story is about a young man finding a purpose in his life, learning discipline and focus and taking charge. It kinda says "guys, if you want something, just take it" at the end as well.

If it were made for women: You would have the legendary final scene, that's for sure, but the military-focus would be tossed out and that scene would just be a man sweeping a woman off her feet rather than the context that is about a man finding himself.


12: The  40 Year Old Virgin

Achieving the mountaintop of "manhood" is easy for some, difficult for others, but the first time is always the weirdest time. Usually, losing ones virginity comes naturally. Things happen, events fall in place and then bam, you have a nice few seconds of ecstasy. For Andy in this movie, though, things happened but certain things fell in the wrong place, if not all the way through. Now, here he is, 40 years old and relying on a complete group of stereotypical "guy friends" to help him reach that mountaintop. For guys, it's like meeting up with your old friends and, in a way, reliving your teenage years...only now you're 40.

Made for men: Have you seen this movie? it's all about the guys and their dealings with single life. Except raunchier and more nerd-oriented with videogames, action figures and uninhibited discussions of sex. 

If it were made for women:  Andy's "friends" wouldn't be a part of it. That's really the defining trait between the two. Their antics and dialogue would be absent and it would concentrate more on Andy and his one friend that would try to put him on various dates until he asks out the pretty lady down the street. Then they would have dinner and kiss at sunset. For the most part, though, it's one of the few films that cross the gender gap.


11: The Graduate

Getting out of college is something many student might look forward to. Well, here's a bit of advice: stay as long as you can. The 'real world' just sucks. As Bill Cosby titles his book "Congratulations!....Now what?" Only until you are out do you look back and realize who great it was, and really how unprepared you are. Now here we have Ben, fresh graduate and not committed to anyone or anything. Oh, but someone wants him. No, not the guy trying to get him into investing in plastics, but the lovely Mrs. Robinson who forces young Ben to make the choice. He pretty much makes the choice any guy would: hot MILF action. It's too bad falling in love with her daughter made it all weird.

Made for men: Male fantasy. Let's face it, if a guy is dating a hot girl and her hot mother is going to come on to him, stuff is going to happen. There's, like, a ton of porn with that same plotline. 

If it were made for women: Ben would become a villain having slept with both the mother and daughter. Then young and old Robinson girls would team up, Thelma and Louise style, to take down all men. Guns may be involved.


10: Good Will Hunting

A brilliant script and realistic approach to a boy meets girl situation, except the boy is socially awkward and looks to his therapist for advise. What appeals to guys most, though, is the sense of legitimacy in the conversations regarding relationships and love."I gotta see about a girl" is a line that's simple and elegant yet far from poetic. It's just believable and, as a guy, it says a million things in its six small words. Women may not quite get it, but when a guys says "I gotta see about a girl" to his guy-friends, they will nod their heads in understanding and let him go on his way.

Made for men: The conversations between Matt Damon and Robin Williams are brilliant and easy for a guy to relate to. Like sitting down with your grandfather and looking for advise.

If it were made for women: Like The Brothers McMullen, because there's such a concentration on the guys and their conversation, it's hard to reconfigure it to fall in line with melodramatic romance or predictable romantic comedies. So, like that one, if it were turned into something less serious and the characters women, then it would be for women, like Sex in the City. Only our lead doesn't look like a horse (yes, two Sarah Jessica Parker riffs in one article).

9: Meet the Parents

Sometimes, shit happens. Throw in all that with the guy fear of meeting his girlfriend's parents for the first time, especially the father, and usually it all ends up a complete mess. De Niro plays every guy's worst nightmare, especially if that guy is sleeping with his daughter. Everything that could go wrong does.

Made for men: Low-brow slapstick humor that would make the Three Stooges proud. Plus the fear of guys meeting their significant other's parents is just appealing to a male audience. Thats one reason why the sequel didn't work as well, it just wasn't as easy to relate to.

If it were made for women: There would be far less concentration on Stiller's antics. The truth is, we know little about the female characters in the movie.If you want a version of this more geared towards women, see "Guess Who" starring pretty boy Ashton Kutcher. There, the entire film is about the daughter, even when she's not around. 



8: Chasing Amy

The classic fairy tale of a fair prince meeting a princess. Only the princess likes the tacos, if you know what I mean. The point of the title is that Holden (Ben Affleck) is going after something that just won't happen. He really likes this girl and sets out to make it happen. It's classic Kevin Smith humor, raunchy and vile in every way, and as a result considered my many to be his best film.  Witty dialogue and frank and honest male viewpoints on where Ben is heading in terms of his chasing...likely a brick wall.

Made for men: Men like lesbians, now lets see if we can get them to switch teams.

If it were made for women: Simply put, there would be way too much to alter to even try to get this close to being something women would like. It has some of their usual elements, like kissing in the rain and the one point in the plot where the guy almost loses her, but the fact is he never really had her. It's just too raunchy to be able to change anything. Unless....flip the roles, Ben is gay, and Joey has to turn him straight. There you go and Jay and Silent Bob are far far away and the raunchiness removed. Smith did that for Jersey Girl, and we saw the result.


7: True Lies

I know what you're thinking. "Wait wait wait wait...that's an action move." No, I say! It's actually about a problematic relationship between a husband and wife and how they rekindle their romance. The trail of blood is just a means to an end. It follows the same structure and pace as most romance movies, teaches the characters lessons about trust and listening...there just happens to be a high body count and explosions. If women love sappy predictable romantic comedies, I say guys love the exploding and bloody romantic action. It's a fair trade. 

Made for men: Stripteases and Tia Carrere? I'll take one ticket, please.

If it were made for women: Well, nobody would die. Unless it's at the last minute after doing a heroic deed to save the woman he loves. This is an action movie first,  romantic movie second. Switch those and you might, might have something reminiscent of a romance movie.


6: There's Something About Mary

The Farrelly's brothers are unapologetic in this raunchy, deservedly R-rated comedic masterpiece. It's like the twisted sense of "romance" that guys think of but rarely talk about. It's the sexual-lawsuit waiting to happen-joke that coworkers say around the water cooler. It's the teenage fantasy in the world of men...but maybe we guys just like to pretend we've grown up.

Made for men: Flogging the dolphin before the date.

If it were made for women: Mary would be who she is, but all these men, instead of fantasizing and obsessing over as (as men do, I might add) they would romanticize and swoon over her, bring her flowers, take her on would pretty much be like Mama Mia.




5: Groundhog Day

While the romance angle is overshadowed by the fact that Phil (Bill Murray) is stuck doing the same thing over and over again, living each day until he gets it right, let's not forget the "right" he's looking for: happiness. He's relived the same day dozens of times, if not more, and only until near the end does he finally see that he's drawn to Rita, played by Andie MacDowell. Like the grinch, he starts to develop a heart. At first he merely tries to sleep with her, but soon finds that's nearly impossible, yet he's still drawn to her. Even though she never remembers, Phil is happy to relive each day with her. At the same time we're given Murray at his comedic best. There's something about him and his style that guys just love and Groundhog Day just appeals to us because we relate to Bill so much.

Made for men: The montage of Phil's various deaths. He's so depressed about being stuck on the same day that he tries to find as any ways possible to kill himself. Kidnapping the groundhog was the highlight, though.

If it were made for women: The romance in the guy version is subtle and doesn't really emerge until later. If this was made with the female demographic in mind, that romance would be beaten over our head from the beginning. He would have to romance her just right to break the evil groundhog's spell.


4: Before Sunrise

Women are going to hate me for saying this, but I'll just say it: guys like smart movies. The reason why so many of us hate your sappy, predictable romantic comedies is because they insult us. The guys are usually the enemy in some form and the melodrama and stupid dialogue makes our IQ drop every minute someone is talking. Either a romance movie needs to appeal to guys by fitting in with their needs, usually low-brow I admit, or to both sexes by rising above just being a dumb romance movie starring Sandra Bullock or Reese Witherspoon (again). So a movie like Before Sunrise is something guys can get into a little better than the "sweet girl falls in love" plot. It's about two strangers meeting in Europe and spending the night together. No, not "together" as in sex, but just talking, getting to know each other. They discuss their lives, their likes and dislikes. Like Annie Hall, it takes a smart approach and concentrates on character and dialogue. Unlike Annie Hall, though, the characters are little more appealing and the directing and style as unconventional as you can get (such as the long single shot of Ethan and Julie in a soundbooth listening to a record, you know they have feelings towards each other by their off-glances and yet they never say a word).

Made for Men: The ending where the two part and promise to meet again in a years time at the same spot. We never know if they do and this open-ended nature helps guys make their own conclusion. 

If it were made for women: This might be a little unfair because women tend to like this one too, and really for the same reasons guys like it. It's believable and easy to relate to. You like the characters and love their situation (which is, there is none). If a studio were to butcher it, I should say, they would probably try to have a plot. Us guys are just happy that Ethan's character is as believable and well-written as Julie's this time.


3: Casablanca

There's one major selling point to guys that gets them into enjoying Casablanca: Humphrey Bogart. His character, Rick, exudes "cool." Bar owner, smoker, gambler, drinker, enjoys wearing white suits and hangs out after hours just because he can. That's every guy's dream. Despite the fact it's considered one of the best romance movies of all time (and one of the best movies, period) it's actually doesn't fall into typical expected romance. You know, the all cheesy kind and whatnot. Our man Rick doesn't end up happily ever after, but he loves Ilsa so much, he tells her to get her ass on the plane and never come back. Quotable dialogue, lots of gambling and drinking and smooth, almost nonchalant Bogart line delivery is what appeals to guys so much, and why it's in the Top 10.

Made for Men: Rick demanding that Ilsa get on the plane and live her life. Girls might love that too as it's incredibly romantic, but guys will say "yeah, there you go, Rick."

If it were made for women: A big kiss and large orchestral piece would be how it would end, they'd sneak on the plan and fly off with another big kiss and a fade to black. Also, Rick would be much more handsome and have sparkling teeth when he smiled. If Rick the way he is defines "cool" and what guys want to be, he would suddenly become handsome and sweet for the ladies if flipped around.


2: Jerry Maguire

From the sometimes hit-and-miss writer/director Cameron Crowe comes one of the best films that guys maybe don't feel emasculated in watching. Sure, it has its cheesy moments, but guys can relate to Jerry. Why? Jerry is a sports agent, and sports agents are cool. As a result, Jerry is cool and, like Rick in Casablanca, is a guy we kinda wouldn't mind being for day. He's smooth, laid back, has a woman he loves and even has a black friend. It's great...

Made for Men: While the girls love the "you had me at hello" scene, guys love most of the entire film dealing with Tom, Jerry and the inside workings of sports. Oh, and as this is obligatory when someone mentions Jerry Maguire, like tossing salt over our shoulder, ahem... "Show me the money!"

If it were made for women: While women might like this movie, it's actually a film that doesn't follow the usual formula. In concentrates both on Jerry and  Dorothy pretty equally. If it were made strictly for women, though, Jerry would be relegated to the guy Dorothy likes, rather than have a story about the two liking each other. He would be background fodder. Oh, and you can forget about there being any thing sports-related past Jerry mentioning his job.


1: The Princess Bride

 Adventure. Fantasy. Hero. Heroine. It's all a rather simplistic Fairy Tale. We have now what I think is not only a guy's favorite romance movie, but should be a women's as well. It's completely universal across genders, races,'s hard to find anyone who doesn't like this movie and for all the same reasons. It's witty, it's funny, it's adventurous and all for the love of one man to one woman. We see it all through the eyes of little boy, and that just takes us back to our own childhoods and when the concept of "love" was so much simpler and not as complicated. I would go so far as to say there is nothing wrong with The Princess Bride whatsoever and is damn near a perfect film.

Made for Men: The swordfight between Westley and Inigo, of course. It's just plain fun, especially when each realizes the other is fighting with his off-hand. "Oh, there's something I ought to tell you." "Tell me." "I am not  left handed either!"

If it were made for women: It is! But there's just enough fun, wit and humor with the predictable romance, that it's a film everyone can love. If you don't love it, then you are neither man nor woman and you should get back on your spaceship.


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