Second Chance Romance Movie Recommendations
Updated: Sep 9, 2022
So many romance movies that hit the box office feature first love. Young, pretty things who fall head over heels and start their long, attractive lives together. The twenty-something me (who was also a young and pretty thing) loved these films: the rush of first love, the romantic idealism, the happily ever after that led to the alter… But perhaps because I’m not in my twenties anymore (or thirties, cough, cough!), I find myself dismissive of the love at first sight trope. Instead, the genre of second chance romance holds more appeal as I settle on the couch on a Saturday night.
When I now think of romance stories – no, let me scratch that. When I now think of LOVE stories (for life has taught me the difference between love and romance, and they are two quite different things), I think about shared experience, compassion, kindness, and family… and yes, despite forming an antagonistic relationship with gravity, I hope for passion.
Mums, wives, widows, divorcees still deserve romance… but what I suspect they want more than romance is LOVE. And as we ‘grow up’ and life experience broadens, second chance romance stories (where a character gets a second chance at a happily ever after a divorce or bereavement, for example) develop an inescapable charm.
Inspired by the second chance romance Christmas novella I just finished writing, and given the fact my next romance novel soon to be released with Evernight Publishing also features the second chance theme (The Guardians’ Trust: Catrin – single dad gets his second go at love), I’m channelling that second chance vibe into this blog, and I’ve found five second chance romance movies every (not so) young lady might like to watch.
Get the popcorn ready!
From reading reviews, this one didn’t go down well with everyone, so I’m a little embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed it! Despite the cliché’s that tend to follow Adam Sandler into film, and some of the racial/gender stereotypes employed, I found this film really funny and the love story between Sandler’s character and Drew Barrymore’s has more depth to it because of the family dynamic – second chance romance involving parents equals blended families, hence the title.
The plot in brief:
Struggling single father has a disastrous date with struggling single mother played by Drew Barrymore. The two families inadvertently end up on the same holiday in ‘Africa’ and the couple fall in love.
Underpinning the romantic plot is the parents’ relationships with their children. Beneath the comedy is a story of families getting a second chance at happiness. Both hero and heroine are single parents – one divorced, one bereaved – and the children are a solid part of the plot, rather than add on characters. Although done in a comedic way, weighty themes such as grief and coming of age are dealt with.
The humour is a combination of locker-room and slapstick comedy, and several of the scenes appealed to me as a parent. The scene where Drew’s character carries her sleeping son to his room and knocks his head on the wall by accident had me in stitches. Likewise, the montage of fun children’s activities at the hotel (watch out for the children petting animals and the boy with the teddy: “Wouldn’t you like to pet a live animal?” Devastated child’s face. “He’s dead?”) had both me and my son in hysterics.
Blended is a Rom-Com (heavy on the Com) and is just a giggly, warm watch.
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2. Something’s Gotta Give.
I’m a fan of Diane Keaton, so I’d give any film with her in it a go, and I’m pleased to say that this film didn’t disappoint. Keaton’s character, Erica, is strong, successful and independent. Nicholson’s character, Harry, is arrogant, trapped in a playboy mid-life crisis and is just generally a bit unpleasant. It is the unlikeliness of the match of these two characters that makes this film work. Oh, and the fact they are both seasoned actors who bring a spark to the screen.
The plot in brief:
Harry suffers a heart attack while dating Erica’s daughter. A hospital dash later sees Erica embarking on a light romance with the ER doctor while Harry recuperates at her home and finds himself falling for the more age-appropriate Erica.
Aging male with a libido far younger than his years seemed a rather cliched character to me, but when placed beside the no nonsense Erica in a vulnerable state, he becomes more humanised. I also liked that this same cliché was challenged by Erica’s relationship with the much younger male doctor played by Keanu Reeves (who is actually great in this role).
I found that there was something very charming about this film, perhaps because the relationship develops in ways that smacked of real life for the second chancer - the exchange of reading glasses is a good example, and the bedtime rituals. It isn’t a film about the light, airy first love of the twenty-something. This is a film about real love and the acceptance of aging and human flaws. The result of this is a heart-warming film that isn’t ‘cute’.
3. Sweet Home Alabama
If you want a sweet romance story where a marriage is given a second chance, then this could hit the spot. It isn’t ground breaking, but it is very watchable.
The plot in brief:
After reinventing herself in New York and getting engaged, Reese Witherspoon’s character returns to her small-town home and the husband she left seven years ago to get a divorce.
While the characters feel a little shallow, there are attempts to round them out. The heroine is rather spoiled and callous upon his return home, but we learn there is a past trauma that has shaped her behaviour and prompted her to leave a husband she clearly still loves. Likewise, the hero (played by Josh Lucas) is now a self-made man. Married too young, their love stands a chance now the characters have had time to find their feet and realise personal ambitions.
Very sugary sweet, but a film that can be watched more than once because it’s so light.
4. First Wives Club
One of my favourite films of all time!
I love the actors, I love the film and I love the female affirming message.
The plot in brief:
After the suicide of one of their college friends, three women rekindle their friendships. Each is facing the breakdown of their marriage when their husbands leave them for a younger woman. What to do? Get revenge!
This movie is a great second chance story because it deals with the lives and relationships of three women. Each must find their second chance at happiness when the future they envisaged (i.e., their marriage) ends. While Bette Midler’s character is hopeful of a second chance with a husband she still loves, the film’s focus is actually about the characters’ second chance at loving themselves and the value of friendship.
Each character embodies certain stereotypes: Goldie Hawn’s character places too much value on looks and turns to alcohol; Bette Midler’s character is the slightly frumpy wife and mother; and Diane Keaton plays the submissive wife who’s always placed her own needs after those of her husband.
This film is a great watch. While it’s rather dated, the message behind the plot is timeless: love yourself; turn grief outwards and make it productive rather than inwards and self-destructive. In short, ‘Girl Power’.
5. Isn’t it Romantic
Okay, so this isn’t s second chance romance as such but I’ve included Isn’t it Romantic because it’s refreshingly different – and funny! If you feel in need of a feel-good romance, it might be time to ditch the patriarchal view that a man will solve your problems and embrace a romance with yourself.
The plot in short:
“A young woman disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.” IBM.
What I love about this film is that the writers take the stereotypes of the romantic comedy genre and turn them on their heads. It is a fresh, humorous and enjoyable rom-com that ends with a solid moral message for women: the most important romantic relationship you will ever have is with yourself.
As always, Rebel Wilson is fantastic. She brings the right amount of sass and vulnerability to the role and is a pleasure to watch. Given that Rebel’s character is trapped in a PG13 Romance world, this is very family friendly. If you have a tween or teenage daughter make it a film night. You want her seeing this one. Oh, and Liam Hemsworth’s in it so make sure you’ve got your glasses. 😉
And if you’re looking for an added level of escape through an old-fashioned second chance romance movie? Try these!
To read a summary of the movies below click here.
· The Gay Divorcee (1934) THE GAY DIVORCEE.
· The Awful Truth (1937)
· The Philadelphia Story (1940)
· Love Crazy (1941)
· The Lady Eve (1941)
· The Palm Beach Story (1942)
· Phffft (1954)
· All that Heaven Allows (1955)
Have a great movie night!