Looking at the likes of Morning Glory and The Dilemma’s posters, you can’t help but sigh and wish they’d done something more original. They’re just so… generic. You feel like you’ve seen them before – and that’s because you have, and we’re here to prove it. From the back-to-back pose to ‘the lean’, not forgetting the park bench one-sheet and the attack of the giant heads, there seem to be a very small number of concepts permitted for rom-com posters... and they're all here. Unless we've inadvertently missed a cliché – in which case, let us know in the comment box below, there’s a good chap.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Ah, Pretty Woman, the king of the back-to-back cheeky romantic comedy movie poster. By our reckoning, it was this little one-sheet that kicked off the whole look, and because of this, Marshall, Gere and Roberts should be ever-so-slightly ashamed. Or smug that they got in there before Intolerable Cruelty ruined it all. Either / or, really.
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (2009)
As any romantic comedy-loving fool knows, Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past is loosely based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. And as anyone with eyes knows, its poster is loosely based on Pretty Woman's, with Richard Gere's tie swapped for Matthew McConaughey's scarf, and, you know, Jennifer Garner not being a hooker and stuff. Plus, the photos on the wall (another classic rom-com poster trope) echo the 'The Three Floaty Faces' cliché. But more on that later… - - - - - -
Four Christmases (2008)
Taking the whole wrapped-up-in-ribbons thing to its illogical conclusion, the Four Christmases' poster plays with the fact that Reese Witherspoon ain't that tall and Vince Vaughn ain't that small. Plus, presents are Christmassy, and red and white as a theme is very, very, very romantic comedy poster.
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
Another red and white number here, plus a crossed-arms-frowny-face-contrast pairing, AND a heart motif. It's as if The Brothers Coen were so desperate to point out this was a commercial rom com number they just took as many poster clichés as possible and mixed them up in a big, critics-dividing pot. And had George Clooney pull a face. For some reason. - - - - - -
How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003)
Matthew McConaughey, as others have pointed out before, is not afraid of a good lean on a movie poster, having done it against a tree, Elizabeth Hurley and Sarah Jessica Parker. Here, he's doing his leaning thing with Kate Hudson, perfectly combining the leaning cliché with the back-to-back cliché. Kate whacks in a crossed-arms-frowny-face too, and Matthew does a tiny-shoulder-shrug-plus-hands-in-pockets manoeuvre, just for good measure. Hell, we almost like it.
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
Look back at How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days. Then back to this. Female lead: crossed-arms-frowny-face. Male lead: tiny-shoulder-shrug-plus-hands-in-pockets. And, for some reason, they seem to be floating on water, Jesus-stylee. AND, (and this is a big, very important 'and' here) THEY FORGET THE APOSTROPHE. What. A. Clanger. - - - - - -
This is a rare poster, admittedly, with an alternative title, so maybe it doesn't really count, but it's so goddamn generic we couldn't not put it in. Also, do not watch this movie. Seriously, don't. Don't, don't, don't.
Run Fatboy Run (2008)
A German poster here, but of note because it highlights the Photoshopping shamelessness of foreign markets taking other movies' art assets and doing whatever they bloody want with them. In other Run Fatboy Run posters, it's obvious these two aren't standing together. For starters, why is Thandie Newton digging her high heel into Simon's leg? Not very nice Thandie. Not very nice at all. - - - - - -
The Ugly Truth (2010)
Red on a white background? Check. Heart motif? Check. Jaunty leaning a-again? Hells yes. But the thing they decided to add to mix it up a bit? A wall. Not a real wall mind; just a big black line. We prefer the toilet-gender-signs version, to be honest.
Milenge Milenge (2010)
Out the same year as The Ugly Truth, this Indian interpretation of Serendipity does the exact same leaning trick with a wall, but adds in the tiny-shoulder-shrug-plus-hands-in-pockets manoeuvre and crossed-arms-frowny-face because, you know, that's just what you do. - - - - - -
Life Or Something Like It (2002)
GOOD LORD ANGIE'S FACE IS HUGE. This poster doesn't do Edward Burns's ego any favours, but it does, somehow, manage to do a back to back number, even if one of the actors' backs is gigantic and their shoulders aren't anywhere near touching. See also cliché #4 'The Giant Heads'.
Laws Of Attraction (2004)
This is the mother lode, so expect to see this poster again. First off, it's a back to back; secondly, there's leaning; and thirdly, it's on a bench. And there's some crossed-arms-frowny-face action going on! This is it! We've reached total rom-com-ocity! There are so many clichés here that they almost cancel each other out and become original. But not quite.
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Love triangles are very easy to represent. Well, they are if you're willing to be incredibly first base about it all, and we're sorry to say that the people behind the first Bridget Jones' movie definitely were. To be fair, at least Colin Firth is actually trying to look into the diary and they all look very nice. So there's that.
Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (2004)
This one, alas, doesn't have that sense of poster continuity. All three of them could be anywhere, their faces and shoulders floating side by side endlessly in the ether. Nice pout from Renée though. That is a pout, isn't it? - - - - - -
Mickey Blue Eyes (1999)
Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are often victims of the three-heads-side-by-side disease, and here's a solid example of Hugh taking the lead role in the triple-header. We suspect it's Photoshopped, of course, but the tweak of the face and the kiss from the right are the kind of addition that make posters like this work. Almost work, anyway.
The Accidental Husband (2008)
Here's Colin's third slice of the Three Floaty Faces pie, and it's a real shocker. In fact, we've already ripped this one to shreds in Our Ultimate Collection Of Badly Photoshopped Movie Posters feature. So you might want to head in that direction for a bit. If you like. - - - - - -
Licence To Wed (2007)
Sure, it says 'License To Wed' on this poster, but it's an American one, and unfortunately one of the things Americans can't do is spull werds propa. Like You, Me And Dupree (see next slide) this poster is about a couple whose relationship is messed about with by a third party - which is why he's dead centre, see? It's very clever really. Shame neither Mandy nor John want to kiss each other. At all.
You, Me And Dupree (2006)
This film is awful, and so is the poster. That's all we have to say on the matter. - - - - - -
Three To Tango (1999)
Though Neve Campbell might be in the centre of this celebrity sandwich, Three To Tango is a Matt Perry vehicle, right in the middle of his Friends heyday. He's presumed to be gay, and that's funny, and he is neurotic and charming, and yeah, so yeah. If you've watched this movie, we'd be very, very surprised. Seriously, just look at the poster.
My Boss's Daughter (2003)
Ashton Kutcher is in so many movies in this romantic comedy poster cliché list it's almost as if he asks for the posters to be as bad as possible. You know, to match the quality of the films. Plus, you need to take a closer look at Terence Stamp's face. That's definitely a I'm-going-to-strangle-my-agent face. Definitely.
Singles is a good rom com, but the poster is generic in the extreme. Well, this one is, anyway: white background, park bench, title at the top. Its poster brother, a black and white number, is slightly better, but is hampered by some poor Photoshopping. Still, as an example of the couple-on-a-park-bench rom-com movie poster trope, it cannot be beaten. Should have had a picture of Eddie Vedder on it, we reckon. In fact, as a general rule, if you're worried about your poster being rubbish, just add Eddie Vedder.
French Kiss (1995)
God Kevin Kline is awesome, isn't he? - - - - - -
Must Love Dogs (2005)
Odd one, this. It's a three-floaty-heads number, in miniature, on a bench, with a dog. Also, if that bench wasn't there, that dog would be exposing himself in a way that someone would definitely complain to the producers about. In other words, thank God for benches.
Ghost Town (2008)
Unusually for a rom-com movie poster, the female lead does not appear, which by us is a damn, damn shame, especially as the lady in question is ever-so-lovely Téa Leoni. But this is a Ricky Gervais movie - his first, in fact - and Ricky Gervais doesn't play by the rules. Just ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. And anyone who's watched The Invention Of Lying… God bless you poor souls. - - - - - -
Milenge Milenge (2010)
Remember this one from the back-to-back wall/lift leaner? They also did a bench number. Shameless, really.
Guess Who (2005)
Ashton! It's been too long. Like Ghost Town, there's no lady (this time around, Zoe Saldana) and it's playing on the whole awkward thing, but considering this movie is the modern, farcical remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the poster is the least of its problems. - - - - - -
The Dilemma (2011)
Is this movie called The Dilemma or The Truth Hurts? If you can't tell what the movie's called, you've gone done fucked up, poster designer.
You Me and Dupree (2006)
You again? Stop it! It doesn't matter that it's German. There's no excusing this shoddy behaviour. Bad Owen Wilson, bad. - - - - - -
This movie indulges in so many movie poster clichés that you'll see a grand total of three appearances from it in this long list. This one is the least heinous, what with it just being the two leads pulling faces on a velvety bench of some sort. Still, keep eyes peeled for further offences.
Knocked Up (2007)
As sitting-down-together movie posters go, this is the best of the bad bunch we've shown you today. Their faces genuinely communicate something, and the punning / wordplay around the title is top notch. We're suckers for puns, basically. Gluttons for punishment, if you will. - - - - - -
The Rebound (2009)
The other poster for The Rebound plays with the red meets white look again (but Justin Bartha seems drunk, somehow) but this one is a pure and simple bench number, only the bench has been swapped out for a couple of washing machines. But you can't fool us; we know there's a bench under there, damn it.
Laws Of Attraction (2004)
Kate And Leopold (2001)
Starring Meg Ryan's giant head and Hugh Jackman's giant head.
What Woman Want (2000)
Featuring the giant heads of Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. - - - - - -
Something To Talk About (1995)
You think you know giant heads? Well, you ain't seen Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid's giant heads. They're like really big - just see the Polaroid for scale.
Prelude To A Kiss (1992)
Not a comedy, sure, but the giant heads of Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan… they're kissing. In a really big way! - - - - - -
Nine Months (1995)
Oh, Hugh, you just had to get in on the whole giant head thing. In fact, you're hogging the whole poster, damn it - Julianne Moore is the one having the baby here, you swine.
Just Friends (2005)
Forget what you thought you know about the giant head movie poster game - because this is a giant head. Seriously. It's HUGE.
Valentine's Day (2010)
There's no lazier way of making a rom-com poster than just taking mugshot-esque stills of all the characters and clicking the 'collage' button on Picasa (other use-friendly Photoshop replacements are available). Valentine's Day is the king of this, as it also uses the heart motif. That said, there has to be someone you have the hots for in there. Someone. Surely.
He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
Did you know that Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Sasha Alexander, Justin Long, Jennifer Connelly, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kevin Connolly, and Bradley Cooper were in this movie? Now you do. - - - - - -
Love Actually (2003)
First of all - it's Christmas, so everything is forgiven, and yes, red and white a-go-go, but just dressing up some stills as a present? Really? You're better than this, surely?
L'Auberge Espanol (2002)
A 10-year-old child could have made this poster. Come on, it's true. And if our French neighbours are going to take inspiration from anything in American cinema (rather than the reverse, as is traditional) they should try to take the best bits, not the tradition of the ensemble poster. - - - - - -
The Russian Dolls (2005)
...its sequel is just as bad, no matter how it dresses it up with little colourful squares.
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
If Sandra Bullock goes down in history for anything - and that includes the yellow get-up from Miss Congeniality 2 - it should be the pick-me-up pose from the poster of While You Were Sleeping. Like Pretty Woman, it defines the pick-me-up rom-com poster trope, and it does it with style. Plus, trains are fun. Yay, trains!
A Cinderella Story (2004)
She's wearing a princess-dress and Converse trainers! She's such a crazy, free-spirited rebel! We bet she is lovely too and deserves to end up with the school hunk who secretly wants to be a poet. - - - - - -
Just Married (2003)
Ashton, it's been far too long since we last saw your face. And now you're holding Brittany Murphy in a rather awkward pose for the camera? You crazy, Ashton, you crazy.
Green Card (1990)
Could Gérard Depardieu be performing the world's worst fireman's lift in the world here? She's a beautiful woman, Gérard, not a sack of pommes de terre - we know you have your own chateau and vineyard and such, but that's no excuse. Show some respect. - - - - - -
Career Opportunities (1991)
What's better than a pick-me-up pose? A pick-me-up pose with cleavage; that's another hundred thousand ticket sales right there. Where do you think Frank Whaley's looking, anyway?
Are you getting sick of seeing their smug faces or is it just us? Everyone's having a great time, we get it. We saw the collage in the last poster, for God's sake.
Down To You (2000)
Why is Freddie Prinze Jr. looking away and smiling? Does he not like Julia Stiles? Is Julia Stiles going for Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s neck? Or is she looking at her watch? We're beginning to think they're not really in love at all.
Forces Of Nature (1999)
You can tell that the two of them are about to fall over into a messy, clichéd heap because Ben Affleck's left hand is blurry. So you can at least enjoy imagining that heap image, even if you can't enjoy the psychedelic mess that is the actual poster. - - - - - -
Are those Steve Martin's actual eyes? The lean is used to good effect here so that the house (you know, the house that they're sitting) can appear. Because that's essential. It'd look stupid otherwise.
Failure To Launch (2006)
We'd like to say you're better than this Mr. McConaughey, but we're not sure… You're just so good at leaning. You're the master. The pro. Everyone looks up to you, Mr. McConaughey - or rather up, and slightly sideways, because you're LEANING. Don't you ever go changing. - - - - - -
Remember Me (2010)
Remember Me is not a rom com by any means (the accepted line casts it as a 'romantic coming of age drama film', just so you know) but this is such a good lean we couldn't not include it. Shame R-Pattz is covering Emilie de Ravin's pretty face, mind. It's not all about you, Robert. Though we understand if you felt the exact opposite.
Laws Of Attraction (2004)
YOU'RE OUTTA THERE etc.