Fantasy romance movies can be tricky to get right—for every film that completely sweeps us away, there’s one that misses the mark (sorry, The Lake House). And while some fantastical love stories work so well on paper, like the The Time Traveler’s Wife, they don’t do as well when translated to the big screen.
Below are eight of our favorite fantasy romance movies. Whether they remind us of our favorite fairy tales or feature paranormal plots, each one is worth watching over and over.
The 90s were the height of the romantic fantasy film genre—and this was the film that ruled them all. Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze play Sam and Molly, a couple who are deeply in love. After being murdered, Sam’s ghost remains on Earth, unable to leave Molly. Soon, it becomes clear that Sam’s unfinished business is making sure Molly is safe before he leaves Earth for good (and getting a couple of steamy pottery moments in before he goes).
The Princess Bride
Hilarious, heartfelt, and featuring a wonderful sense of adventure, The Princess Bride is a fantasy romance movie that captivates just about everyone. Our favorite plot line follows the two young lovers Buttercup and Westley. Buttercup believes Westley died at the hands of pirates, but when a mysterious masked man in black saves her, she realizes her love survived.
The Shape of Water
We know this unconventional love story didn’t click with everyone, but we couldn’t help but cheer for this odd couple who proved that love has no rules. In The Shape of Water, a lonely lab janitor named Elisa falls in love with a humanoid amphibian who’s been captured for experimentation. While we’re still unclear on how they consummate their love, we’re just happy that they’re happy.
This classic Tim Burton fantasy romance isn’t like your classic love story. Edward Scissorhands is an unfinished creation with dangerously sharp blades in place of his hands. When he’s taken in by an upper class suburban family, he and their teenage daughter Kim fall in love with one another. A beautifully unconventional story about the struggles of fitting in and finding love, the film also features undeniable chemistry between Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, who had just begun dating one another in real life.
Though this film leads a bit more toward comedy than romance, the relationship between Phil and Rita gives it some much-needed heart. Phil (Bill Murray) is a cynical weatherman who finds himself trapped in a time loop: every day, he wakes up to find that it’s still Groundhog Day. It’s not until he starts living a better life—and falling in love with his producer, Rita—that he’s able to break the cycle.
Based on the of the same name, this film follows two sisters who are witches. But being magical has also caused them to be cursed—any man they fall in love with is doomed to have an early death. When Sally finds her true love, the two sisters work together to break their family curse once and for all.
What if fairy tales were based in truth? This is the idea of Ever After, a Cinderella story that suggests the famous tale was based on two lovers in 19th century France—Prince Henry, whose parents are trying to arrange a marriage between him and the Princess of Spain, and Danielle de Barbarac, who has been forced into servanthood by her evil stepmother. It’s a tale we’ve all heard before, but Ever After’s fresh twists make it worth revisiting.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Because of its nonlinear structure, the plot of Eternal Sunshine is a bit difficult to explain. However, we can say that it’s based on the idea that you could completely remove all memories of a bad breakup from your life—including the fact that you ever dated that person at all. Exploring different facets of love, memory and human connection, the film is “as unabashedly romantic as any movie you'll ever see" (A.O. Scott, The New York Times).
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