The cinematic archives are filled with movies that revolve around young love, but some, like Say Anything, stand tall above the rest.
Split image of Nick and Norah in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Lloyd & Diane in Say Anything.
Some of the best romantic comedies of all time explore the romances between teens or young adults, those exciting early relationships that are often awkward, complicated, and endearing to audiences. In Pretty in Pink, it’s Andie, a record store employee who falls for the rich kid who lives on the nice side of town while Love, Simon titular high schooler comes to terms with being gay while falling in love with his online confidant.
These films have love at their core — whether they lean towards comedy, like The Fundamentals of Caring, or are more serious and sadder, like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The settings, characters, and situations differ, but all of these movies are charming portrayals of young love that are worth checking out.
After We Fell (2021)
New movie After We Fell (After 3), Just as Tessa makes the biggest decision of her life, everything changes. Revelations about her family, and then Hardin’s, throw everything they knew before in doubt and makes their hard-won future together more difficult to claim.
This movie was so much good. I loved it from the start to the end because ive read the books more than twice and they have a wonderful backstory that really showed in this movie. Highly recommended to watch After 3 We Fell Movie with your partner, The environment and the lines in the scenes from this film are just like you imagined it in the books. Castille the director really did a good job on this and also did the books fair for once. Hero and Josephine are just a perfekt match and are born på play Hardin and Tessa. This is the best movie of the 3 of them (and then I really love the others) I CAN NOT wait until the 4th and last movie!
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (2015)
When budding filmmaker Greg’s mom forces him to visit Rachel, the terminally ill student at his school, he quickly develops a fondness for her wit, cynicism, and creativity. With his best friend Earl, he makes it his mission to make her an amateur film and, in his head, keep her alive by doing so.
The film is incredibly moving but also has some amusing moments of comic relief, such as during the boys’ adaption of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange called “A Sockwork Orange” featuring some ominous sock puppets. Unlike other romantic movies with a sick protagonist, the film never succumbs to false sentimentality. This young love doesn’t last as Rachel dies at the end and Greg’s heart is broken. With superb performances and an excellent score from Brian Eno, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a movie worth checking out.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
Norah and Nick talk in a car at night in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
This movie plays out over the course of one magical night in downtown New York City. Nick and Norah’s favorite band Where’s Fluffy? have announced a secret show, and the eponymous characters race across the city examining clues and trying to find the venue. While they are ultimately unsuccessful, Norah’s dad owns the Electric Lady music studios, and she takes Nick there — he plays a song for her before they make love on the studio’s sofa.
Unlike some movies that are slow-burners and play out over several days, months, or even years, this fleeting and exciting night filled with passion and mystery is one of the great young love tales. The film was based on a novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and has a brilliant soundtrack featuring Richard Hawley, whose song “Baby, You’re My Light” plays during one melancholic moment when Nick and Norah temporarily go their separate ways.
The Half Of It (2020)
When Paul, a slow-witted high school footballer, asks Ellie, a whip-smart Chinese-American, to help write a love letter to his crush, Ellie ends up falling for the recipient of the letters, a girl named Aster. A classic love triangle situation ensues in which Paul ends up falling for Ellie, while the letters she writes reveal her true feelings. The film, one of the best movies directed by a woman on Netflix, is set in a small town called Squahamish and has a cozy autumnal feel.
The Half of It usurps the traditional girl-meets-boy story. Instead, its heart comes from the friendship between Ellie and Paul — he defends her from bullies and, a keen chef, brings food to her unwell father. Meanwhile, she sends complimentary letters to food critics regarding his sausage creations. Despite their friendship being placed front and center, Ellie still gets her kiss with Aster, and Ellie and Paul still find love, albeit as friends. The film has some very cute moments and is an absolute must-watch.
Pretty In Pink (1986)
This John Hughes cult classic follows Andie, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks whose father is poor, as she falls for Blane, a rich preppy kid at her school. Meanwhile, Andie’s friend, the delightful Duckie, is totally in love with her — he even performs a hilarious and theatrical dance at the record store where she works.
The movie has a lot to say about young love, though its ending may split the room. Andie ultimately chooses Blane, despite the original ending having her end up with Duckie. Hughes hastily rewrote the script after test audiences responded poorly. The official ending still shows that class cannot divide lovers, has one of cinema’s most iconic school dance scenes, and is one of several fantastic movies that contains one of Hughes’ best female characters in all of his movies.
Love, Simon (2018)
Simon smiles at a potential boyfriend during Christmas in Love, Simon.
Love, Simon’s premise has such longevity that it has spawned a spin-off series: Love, Victor. The movie follows Simon, a gay high schooler who has not yet come out to his friends and family, as he develops a romance online with an anonymous student, “Blue.”
The movie is immersive and audiences will likely find themselves caring deeply about the host of charming characters, including Simon’s friends Nick, Leah, and Abby, and his open-minded, liberal family members. Despite this support, Simon has a hard time when someone blackmails him and threatens to leak his and Blue’s messages and out him to the whole school. It’s a touching teen rom-com that foregrounds gay characters and highlights the emotional process of coming out without being too sentimental.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Patrick and Kat talk while sitting on swings in 10 Things I Hate About You.
Julia Stiles plays the headstrong, anti-social teenager Kat, who doesn’t have any interest in dating. However, when the school’s equally misanthropic “bad-boy” Patrick (Heath Ledger) is paid to date her and impresses her by learning about her interests and turns up at her favorite band’s gig, she soon warms to him.
Everything goes wrong in suitably Shakespearean fashion, as 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. The movie features a great teen rom-com couple in Kat and Patrick, exploring the now-cliched premise of a character falling for someone whom he is only dating for a bet or ulterior motive. There’s also a host of memorable supporting performances that make the movie stand out, from David Krumholtz’s sarcastic best friend to Larry Miller’s overly anxious father, who in one hilarious scene, dons a fake pregnancy belly in a misguided attempt to dissuade his daughters from dating.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Sam and Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson’s witty and absurdist tale of young romance is set on the island of New Penzance. A young boy runs away from his summer camp with a local girl named Suzy, with nothing on the horizon other than a future filled with whimsical exploration and romance. That’s until they are pursued by the scouts of Camp Ivanhoe, Suzy’s parents, the island police chief, and social services.
The story, inspired by Anderson’s childhood fantasies, is a unique take on childhood love. The main characters carry out what most children only dream of doing — running away with their favorite person for a life of fun with no regard to the consequences. The film reinvents romance tropes while still retaining enough relatability to stay on many viewers’ re-watch lists.
Say Anything… (1989)
Lloyd is about to kiss Diane in the 1989 film Say Anything…
John Cusack’s most iconic role is as the boombox-wielding, trench coat-attired Lloyd Dobbler, an underachieving true romantic whose sole life aspiration is to love Diane, who is academically proficient and whose family is well-to-do. Her family is therefore not too impressed with Lloyd, who tells them he doesn’t want to “sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career.”
Directed by Cameron Crowe, the critically revered movie explores class, the freedom of post-graduation opportunity, the modern relationship dynamic, and, of course, love itself. It challenges the heteronormative dynamic in which the woman follows the man as he embarks on a prosperous career. Instead, Say Anything’s male lead only wants to love and support his partner, as exemplified at the end of the movie when he follows her to England where she will attend university.