Have you ever left an epic action extravaganza with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart? Then you may have been subject to a covert rom-com hiding in plain sight. What follows are just 13 examples among many instances where a perfect romantic comedy was smuggled within an action movie.
We will detail action flicks that are really, secretly romantic comedies at their core and/or double well as such, per the familiar structural tropes of that genre. Thus, romantic subplots showcase two characters fated to get together by the time the final credits roll. In the meantime, however, they have to face elaborate obstacles, plenty of misunderstandings and/or prevarications, and other hiccups en route to a happy ending.
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The Characters: Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a spy posing as a suspiciously ripped computer salesman, and his bored wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis).
The Meet-Cute: Our first introduction to Harry and Helen's currently strained relationship happens early on in the movie, when Harry's exciting double life keeps him from being available for a surprise birthday party being feted in his honor by Helen and their daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku).
The Obstacle: Harry discovers that Helen has been lured in by Simon, a used car salesman masquerading as a spy to seduce lonely housewives (Bill Paxton). Harry discovers that Helen is bored with her domestic bliss.
How They Wind Up Together: After Harry takes over for Simon, he sets up a faux mission for his wife, where she is supposed to seduce a powerful figure (Harry in disguise) for the good of diplomacy. Of course, soon Helen and Harry find themselves on the run in a very real spy mission, which brings them closer together than ever.11825Legit rom-com?
- Photo: TriStar Pictures
The Characters: Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro (Antonio Banderas), a petty thief trained to replace original Zorro Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins), and Elena Montero (Catherine Zeta-Jones), adopted daughter of Zorro's enemy, crooked nobleman Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) - and secretly the biological daughter of Don Diego de la Vega.
The Meet-Cute: In a plot to take down Montero, Alejandro and Diego disguise themselves as a nobleman and his servant, respectively, and infiltrate his group. Alejandro impresses Elena at a house party.
The Obstacle: Alejandro wants to thwart the man Elena believes to be her father and disrupt his crooked schemes. Elena naturally wants to defend her pops.
How They Wind Up Together: Eventually, Elena realizes her actual birthright, and discovers her father's plot to buy California from General Santa Anna as an independent republic using gold mined (via slave labor) via Santa Anna's own land. Elena and Alejandro stop Don Montero and eventually marry and have a son.9720Legit rom-com?
The Characters: Bored couple John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie), both covert spies working for rival agencies, unbeknownst to each other.
The Meet-Cute: John and Jane kvetch about each other and a growing "distance" between them in couples therapy, revealing that they first met in Bogota, Colombia, while each was in hiding following a political assassination. We learn that the sexual spark has left their marriage... for now.
The Obstacle: John and Jane soon find that they have been tasked with killing each other after failing to take out a federal prisoner.
How They Wind Up Together: John and Jane destroy their exquisite suburban home in the name of killing each other, but when the moment of truth arrives, they are unable to go through with their assigned tasks. Instead, they rediscover the physical chemistry that has left their marriage, and team up to take down their bosses.10828Legit rom-com?
The Characters: LAPD officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and bus passenger turned driver Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock).
The Meet-Cute: Jack Traven is informed by deranged bomber Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) that a Los Angeles commuter bus has been rigged with explosives that will detonate if its pace dips below 50 miles per hour. Jack boards the bus in an effort to thwart Payne. After bus driver Sam (Hawthorne James), Annie's friend, is wounded, Annie is commissioned by Jack to replace him.
The Obstacle: The obstacle and the meet-cute are essentially one and the same, as a hostage situation brings these incredibly attractive people together.
How They Wind Up Together: Jack directs Annie to commandeer the bus while a SWAT team ultimately is able to extract and rescue most of its passengers successfully. They escape later, moments before the bus meets its final end. Annie is later abducted by a furious Payne, and after Jack defeats Payne and saves Annie during a death-defying train chase, they share a smooch. Sadly, their romance is not forever, as three years later Annie will have taken up with SWAT officer Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) for an ill-fated cruise.10242Legit rom-com?