romcoms books

She’s the Man to Clueless: The best romcoms based on classic literature, ranked

Anyone But You is Much Ado About Nothing?!

Anyone But You proved romcoms are officially back when it hit the cinemas this winter. And it turns out the film, starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, is actually based on the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. But this isn’t the first film to try and pull off this trope.

There have been many attempts of good romantic comedy films in the last decade, but we all know they hit their peak in the early 2000s and have been undefeated ever since. A big reason why this was the case is because many of the 2000s cult classics were modern adaptations of classic literature all set to a 2000s pop soundtrack that pairs perfectly with teenage angst. The reason Anyone but You feels like an instant classic is because it follows this trend of book-based films.

And, as a romcom connoisseur – or in other words a sad, single girly with too much time on her hands – I feel I am fully qualified in what makes a brilliant romcom and have the authority to rank the top six romcoms based on classic literature of all time:

6. John Tucker Must Die

This film basically invented feminism with the line “you find out this boy is cheating on you and you’re slapping the s**t out of each other?”. It showed that girls need to stick together even if they are from different cliques.

This film is based on the Shakespeare play The Merry Wives of Windsor, where three women find out this man has been lying to them, so they team up to take him down. I love the fact that the love interest is played by an indie, long haired Penn Badgley pretending he thinks he’s an ugly weirdo when he literally has chiselled cheekbones.

Also, his flirtation with Kate is very well executed but I am still angry that we didn’t get to see them properly end up together at the end but only get a hint they will start dating. Sophia Bush is also iconic in this movie and could be argued to be a bi icon or bi-con. This film ranks last in my list though as they didn’t actually end up taking John Tucker down as their morals got in the way which really annoys me as I wanted to see true revenge at play. Also, I’m still confused of the relevance of the main character having a hot mum because it’s mentioned a lot but doesn’t link to the plot at all.

5. Clueless

This film is an absolute cult classic. It’s based on Jane Austin’s Emma where a desirable, wealthy girl called Emma takes a less fortunate girl under her wing to help her marry but her match has affections for Emma. Lots of other mishaps happen before Emma realises that she is in love with the family acquaintance that keeps her selfishness in check. Clueless updates Emma to revolve around the social goings on of a popular highschooler Cher. Although I am deeply jealous of Cher’s wardrobe and always appreciate how attractive Paul Rudd was in the 90s, this ranks at five due to her falling in love with her stepbrother. It is a bit too close to incest to be at the top of the list.

4. Anyone but You

This movie perfectly toes the line between comedy and romance while also paying subtle odes to Mr William Shakespeare in many ways such as including quotes in the backgrounds of scenes. Anyone But You is based on the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing where two enemies must pretend to be attached to avoid their families intervening in their love lives but eventually realise their love was real all long. It includes some of the best romcom tropes such as enemies to lovers and fake dating.

The mix of the beautiful setting of Australia mixed with its gorgeous cast, including Sydney Sweeny and Glen Powell, you will finish this film with dreams of weddings in Australia and a new slightly obsessive celebrity crush. This film also pays ode to the early 2000s, when the art of romcoms were mastered, by making the song Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield it’s anthem. It will be stuck in your head for days and you will inevitably blast it in the car the whole way back from the cinema. This movie was an instant favourite to me but only marks at number four due to it not being out for long enough for me to be able to recite the script like the others in this list.

3. Easy A

The film that launched Emma Stone’s career to new heights is a brilliant comfort movie for a hungover Saturday. A genuinely laugh out loud romcom that makes you question how society views virginity and leaves you wanting Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as your parents.

This film was based on The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne which is heavily incorporated into the plot as the highschoolers are learning about it in English class alongside all the drama unfolding. It centres around a woman’s promiscuity being put into question as she is outcast and forced to wear a red A on her clothes for adulterer but then society realises she was wrongly judged. Amanda Bynes playing a judgmental Christian, Lisa Kudrow playing an adulterous guidance councillor, Penn Badgley just popping up for eye candy and Emma Stones mind blowing performance all contribute to this brilliant film and that it why it is ranked third.

2. She’s The Man

Amanda Bynes’ comedic performance is second to none in this lovable romcom with an underlying message of the need for more attention to be placed on women in sport. Channing Tatum is also so adorable. This film is based on the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night where a girl must dress up as a man and pose as her male twin in order to become an actor but falls in love with a man until all the truth comes out and they end up together. You will catch me quoting “When my eyes are closed, I can see you for what you truly are which is UGLYYYYY” on a daily basis. Also, Channing Tatum’s character and I share the same lack of rizz as he poses the question “what’s your favourite cheese?”. This ranks at number two as you can always rely on it to make you laugh time and time again.

1. 10 Things I Hate About You

As one of my favourite films of all time, this had to rank as the best. The teen angst and unrequited love in this movie is defiantly Shakespearian while also being a feminist masterpiece. This movie is based on the Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew where a man can only court the girl he loves if her impolite sister starts courting so employs a man to do this.

This movie makes ode to the man himself through Kat’s best friend being a Shakespeare mega fan (if this wasn’t set in the 90s she would have defiantly been writing fan fiction about him). Cameron set the bar for men really high in this movie as he learns French just for the chance to speak to the girl he likes. Additionally, Heath Ledger is so stunning in this movie I could faint and I want to be Julia Stiles. My dream is for a man to sing Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You on a football pitch while security chases him for no apparent reason. I also have never found paint-balling so romantic in my whole life. This fabulous movie all topped off with a band performing on the roof of their school makes it the perfect romcom.

In conclusion, the art of the classic romcom is back all thanks to the release of Anyone but You coming out. I am a big nerd when it comes to romcoms, but you can’t blame a girl for wanting to escape boys in real life, whose biggest romantic gesture is stealing your sunglasses in clubs. In my expert opinion a great romcom needs a strong female lead, a great early 2000s soundtrack, an attractive man written by a woman and sometimes a musical number for no reason. All these movies have smashed these criteria and I think it’s all thanks to the authors you studied at English GCSE.

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Featured image credit via Paramount