Erin types furiously at a hip Los Angeles coffee shop. She gets up to get another napkin. As she goes for one, another hand meets hers above the napkin dispenser.
Oops, my bad!
VAGUELY HIPSTER HOTTIE:
No, please—ladies first!
I guess chivalry isn’t dead after all.
Happy to be your knight-in-shining beanie.
My name’s Cole.
CUT TO: Lucky-in-love montage, lots of walking around the streets of Los Angeles, feet in the ocean, riding the ferris wheel, outdoor brunches, dogs, etc. Preferably set to The Cure.
Hi, my name is Erin, and I love rom-coms. I know they’re cheesy and sappy and unrealistic, but that’s exactly what I like about them. You know what else I love? (drops needle onto record player, and The Drifters’ “This Magic Moment” begins playing).
Sure, it may verge on cliché, but the tried and true trope from this oft-mocked genre is the meet-cute. The meet-cute establishes the relationship between two main characters—destined for love or heartbreak—through funny, sometimes sexy banter usually involving an ordinary task.
Here are some of my favorite meet-cute moments in movies.
Monster-in-Law, also known as the film that brought us the Jane Fonda-ssaince, features your standard meet-cute. Charlie (Jennifer Lopez in a “girl-next-door” role) bumps into Kevin (Michael Vartan, who I just instinctively typed as “Vaughn” from “Alias”) on the beach while Charlie is walking several dogs as one of her temp jobs. They get all tangled up (klutziness is so cute!) and—obviously—chemistry ensues! We watch as the connection forms between the two, despite their different socioeconomic classes (he’s a doctor; she’s a temp!) and because of their perfect faces! Also, how can you not fall in love in the presence of several dogs?
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the perfect example of the “klutzy heroine does something physically ridiculous” meet-cute. After having a ~moment~ in her family’s diner, Toula (Nia Vardolos) is visited by Ian (John Corbett, though this writer must admit she’s #TeamBig) at her day job. While attempting to show him some brochures, Toula forgets she has a headset on and gets yanked to the floor. Comedy! This meet-cute establishes how much Ian already cares for Toula, and how instantly charmed he is. Because nothing is more charming than a semi-concussed person. Ask the NFL! (too much?)
They Came Together is a perfect parody of a meet-cute. While both dressed as Ben Franklin, Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) literally bump into each other on the way to a Halloween party. They bicker at first, trading barbs and quips, huffing and puffing about each other. They Came Together plays on every rom-com trope in the book, including the “they hate each other at first, but then they learn to love each other,” a dynamic which is first established in their meet-cute. This will make it all the more resonant when Joel and Molly begin the actual courtship—the passion was there from the start.
I’ve got to throw it back to one of my favorite early aughts Amanda Bynes movies, What a Girl Wants. This is your by-the-book meet-cute, which takes great lengths in the dialogue to show us that Daphne (Amanda Bynes, with a cool character name) and Ian (Oliver James) come from different countries! Daphne tries to check into a hotel, and Ian explains everything about the hotel using only British slang. He is charmed by her American-ness, and she by his British-ness. The exchange ends when a girl comes out of the bathroom and yells “Loo’s free!” Daphne then turns to Ian and asks, “Who’s Lou?” It’s very funny, Amanda Bynes is very charming and #relatable, and now we know these characters are sweetly into each other!
And finally—Adam Sandler’s second best movie (Happy Gilmore is the first, with a work-centric meet-cute!) The Wedding Singer has a meet-cute involving one of life’s least glamorous substances: vomit. Robbie (Adam Sandler) helps a poor, drunk teenager blow chunks during a wedding, and Julia (Drew Barrymore) witnesses this display of human compassion. Although he’s engaged, and she’s soon-to-be engaged, the two are instantly enamored. Adam Sandler gets to be funny, Drew Barrymore gets to be cute, and we as the audience are now invested in their future as a couple.
The meet-cute is an extremely crucial trope to the rom-com genre, serving as the key introduction of the characters to each other, and to the audience, as a potential couple. Who knows what could happen when you accidentally switch coffees with someone at Starbucks (as seen in Made of Honor)? Or when you pass out at a wedding after going for the bouquet and someone pretends to be a doctor to make sure you’re OK (as seen in 27 Dresses)? Or even if you fall off a billboard of a castle and be caught by Patrick Dempsey (as seen in Enchanted)? There are endless examples of the meet-cute. I’m still waiting for my real life one. Fingers crossed it’s with Patrick Dempsey.