Ten Clean Romantic Movies
Valentine’s Day is at hand, and we know many of you are looking for a love story that doesn’t have scenes between the sheets. If you want tea and crumpets with your love stories, check out our article on Period Romances. For a more fantastical point of view, you can read Under Your Spell: Magical Romantic Movies. But if you’re looking for something else, check out the following films.
Driven to distraction by their marriage-obsessed parents, Asha and Ravi agree to pretend to be a couple, at least for the duration of the Wedding Season (TV-PG, Grade: B+). The story is sweet, the film’s messages about family bonds are solid, and the couple’s relationship is worth cheering for.
Paige wants to get straight A’s so she can get into medical school. Denmark’s Prince Edvard wants to attend an American university as a regular guy so he can go under the radar of the voracious tabloid press. This unlikely couple’s story is told in The Prince and Me (PG, Grade: B). Parents should note that while there are no bedroom scenes in this movie, there is a make-out session that involves the removal of a man’s shirt.
Geared to teen audiences, The Map of Tiny, Perfect Things (PG-13, Grade: B+) has a story that will resonate with adult viewers too. When an entire town is caught in a time loop, Margaret and Mark are the only people aware that the same day keeps repeating itself. As they develop a relationship, both teens start to ask big questions about time, growth, experience, and the meaning of life. It’s both sweet and thoughtful, with more depth than many films in the romance genre.
They live in the same home – but not at the same time. Inhabiting The Lake House (PG, Grade: B+) two years apart, architect Alex and physician Kate find themselves exchanging letters through their own mail box. The wrinkle in time is never fully explained but Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock provide believable performances that make this a genuinely touching film.
What’s Up, Doc? (Rated: G, Grade: B+). One of the best screwball comedies of all time, this film features the wildest comic car chase ever filmed as well as a kooky relationship between Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, with a starring turn from Madeline Kahn. This 70s classic will have tweens and teens laughing along with their parents at the mayhem that unfolds on the screen.
There’s nothing original in the boy-meets-girl storyline, but The Man from Snowy River (PG, Grade: B+) has charmed viewers for decades. This Australian film features a plausible romance between a horse-mad farmhand and the boss’s daughter, as well as jaw-dropping scenery and an unforgettable soundtrack. A favorite film for many families, this just might make it on to your regular rotation.
Yes, it’s a kid’s movie, but Elemental (PG, Grade: A-) has a lot to say about relationships. Ember is a woman made from fire and Wade is a man made from water – and both believe a relationship is impossible. But as they discover and marvel at each other’s differences, they learn that not only can opposites attract; they can also enrich.
Three romances for the price of one. That’s what you’ll find in Fiddler on the Roof (G, Grade: A), a musical about a Jewish milkman in pre-Revolutionary Russia. Desperate to marry off his daughters, Tevye must battle with the constraints of tradition, the challenges of modernity, and his own deepest convictions. The daughters’ stories are by turns tender, self-sacrificial, and heart-tugging and the songs deserve their status as Broadway classics.
Anchored by strong performances from Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries (G, Grade: A-) never grows old. San Francisco teenager Mia Thermopolis is shocked to learn that her unknown father was the late King of Genovia – and she’s the heir to the throne of the tiny European kingdom. The movie’s romance takes second place to Mia’s voyage of self-discovery but this is a fun and harmless film for family viewing.
It’s a familiar story across many global cultures and is the basic plot outline for scores of fairytales, books, and films. Disney’s live-action version of Cinderella (PG, Grade: A) brings the tale to vivid life and, even adult romance fans will find the ball a swoon-worthy moment. If you’re a purist, check out the 1950 animated original (G, Grade: B+).
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (PG-13, Grade: B+): Desperate to get some space from her overwhelming Greek family, Toula dates Ian on the sly. When they get engaged, there’s no holding the clan back. Hilariously funny, this film is a laugh-out-loud story of love and the strength of families. A brief moment of an unmarried couple in bed together keeps this movie from being totally suitable for all viewers.
The Age of Adaline (PG-13, Grade B+). After a freak accident, Adaline stops aging. As she outlives everyone she cares about, she avoids relationships, unwilling to experience more loss…that, is, until she meets Ellis. Romantic and full of heart, this is a story that will make viewers appreciate the intertwined nature of love and loss. A brief, non-explicit morning scene of an unmarried couple in bed pushes this off our list of clean films, but it comes close.