Six '90s Rom-Coms to Transport You to a Simpler Time

You deserve a moment of respite. A sure-fired way to facilitate momentary suspension of disbelief is to experience the fantastical worlds of 1990s romantic comedies, where New York City apartments are impossibly huge and every male romantic prospect is either Tom Hanks or Bill Pullman. (You are Meg Ryan, always.) The mid-90s is a real sweet spot for for the genre, punctuated by the flagship films of Nora Ephron and filled with more underrated gems that you forgot even existed.

Get cosy under the covers and press play on one of these '90s rom-coms.   

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Where to watch: Netflix

Yes, When Harry Met Sally made Meg Ryan an icon, but Sleepless in Seattle gave us her and Tom Hanks as the ultimate rom-com couple whose chemistry is simply unparalleled – and they only share two minutes of screen time. That's magic. Directed by the late, great Nora Ephron, Sleepless in Seattle is absolute peak Meg Ryan, peak '90s, and the cast is truly wonderful, with Hanks' real life wife Rita Wilson playing his sister, Victor Garber as her husband, Bill Pullman as Ryan's fiancé, and an already brilliant child Gaby Hoffman as a friend of Hanks' son. Set between New York and Seattle, this one is best streamed on a rainy day under the covers.

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

Where to watch: Prime Video

Only Sandra Bullock could make this premise seem whimsical and not highly problematic. She plays Lucy, a ticket booth operator who develops a crush on one of the regular passengers – a handsome stranger played by Peter Gallagher (aka Sandy Cohen from The OC). One day she saves his life and when he ends up in a coma the hospital mistakenly identifies her as his fiancée. She rolls with it and pretends to be the wife-to-be of this random guy, with no end game in sight. Enter Bill Pullman – the ultimate unassuming nice guy of '90s rom-coms – the guy's younger brother who starts getting suspicious. Romantic vibes follow.

It Could Happen to You (1994)

Where to watch: YouTube

An underrated gem inspired by a true story, this one stars Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda. Cage plays an NYC cop who wins the lottery and splits the money with a waitress played by Fonda. With Rosie Perez and Stanley Tucci in supporting roles, It Could Happen to You will satisfy your '90s rom-com cravings and then some.

You've Got Mail (1998)

Where to watch: Netflix

Reunited and it feels so good. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks team up again for another Nora Ephron-directed romantic comedy of errors that will make you nostalgic for dial-up modems and the concept of being anonymous on the internet. Supporting the leads are Dave Chapelle, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey and Heather Burns (Miss Congeniality's Miss Rhode Island, whose idea of the perfect date is April 25th because it's not too hot, not too cold – all you need is a light jacket). "That caviar is a garnish!" "Don't you love New York in the Fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies." "F-O-X." If you know, you know. And if you don't – treat yourself to this forever classic, now.

Muriel's Wedding (1994)

Where to watch: Hulu

This isn't just a classic '90s rom-com, this is a culturally significant historical artefact from the golden age of Australian cinema (see also: Strictly Ballroom; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert). It's the story of a single, socially awkward woman who dreams of having a bigger life in the big smoke and a spectacular wedding to a handsome fella. The music of ABBA features prominently, preceding the Mamma Mia musical, which later debuted on stage in 1999, and you will be singing "Waterloo" for weeks after viewing.

Clueless (1995)

Where to watch: Netflix

Another icon of cinema history, Amy Heckerling's adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma is an enduring favourite among humans everywhere. No recap needed. On your next rewatch, take a moment to appreciate Cher's highly relevant debate class monologue on the refugee crisis that remains relevant today and remember that it absolutely does not say "RSVP" on the Statue of Liberty. Also, long live Brittany Murphy.

Want to keep watching? Here are 7 feel-good mother-daughter films and series to stream now.

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