Ah, the meet cute. The scene in a film where two potential lovers meet for the first time. They lay eyes on each other, maybe exchange a few words, have a whole conversation, or not say anything at all. But it is a critical moment in the film: if two characters are meant to fall in love, they better have a darn good meet cute. It’s what they deserve.
Here are a few of my favorite ever meet cutes that made me believe in love:
The Wedding Planner (2001). San Francisco’s premiere wedding planner Mary Fiore is on the phone with her colleague, Penny, when her shoe gets stuck in a manhole cover right as a community dumpster comes rolling down the hill towards her. Conveniently enough, the dashing Steve Edison is standing nearby, and swoops in just in time to save Mary and her shoe – it was a Gucci shoe – I wouldn’t have let go either. A dazed Mary thanks Steve and tells him he smells like red plums and grilled cheese sandwiches, before fainting into her savior’s arms. Also conveniently, Steve is a pediatrician, and takes Mary to recover in the hospital where he works. Steve’s sarcasm and playful flirting would be enough to charm any rigid wedding planner (no offense Mary).
When Harry Met Sally (1989). It’s nice that the film is named after their meeting, don’t you think? The college-aged Harry and Sally are polar opposites who meet for the first time right before the long drive from Illinois to New York City. The two argue about almost everything, including whether men and women can truly be friends – Harry argues that sex always gets in the way. It is this question that serves as the foundation for the film and their relationship. Will Harry eventually fall for the way Sally takes three hours to order a sandwich? (This was a rhetorical question – if you haven’t seen this film, you may want to check for a heartbeat, because I’m not sure how one lives without having watched it).
Romeo and Juliet (1996). Baz Luhrmann’s modern take on the classic Shakespeare play is quirky and a little strange, it is brilliantly acted, with a well-matched Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio at the helm. Instead of the usual eye contact from across the ballroom scene that was in both the play and the original film adaptation, Luhrmann has the idea of placing a fish tank between the two young lovers. The ball is rather a costume party, and where there would be masks concealing the identities of the Capulet and Montague, there is glass, water, and some fish. Sounds weird, but it works. Romeo is taken by this angel (she is both metaphorically an angel and literally dressed like an angel) he sees through the tank, and Juliet equally captivated. They say nothing during this eye contact, but the butterflies are already there.
Titanic (1997). And young Leo does it again. Now, Titanic is a drama and a tragedy at that, so Jack and Rose’s meet cute is no picnic. Jack finds a distraught Rose hanging off the back of the ship, contemplating suicide. “Don’t do it,” he tells her. It’s not the sexiest line or situation, but Jack remains calm and is able to coax her to come back over the railing. But Rose then slips, and the situation turns dire. Jack must pull her back over and save her. When sailors rush toward the screams and find Rose sprawled on the deck of the ship with Jack laying over her, they get the wrong impression. It is no matter though, because one tale of ice-fishing in Wisconsin and his heroic rescue is enough to make Rose start falling for Jack.
Dirty Dancing (1987). “I carried a watermelon.” This is the now iconic line spoken by Baby Houseman when she comes face to face with Johnny Castle, who asks what she’s doing at a supposedly secret dance party. Johnny is a handsome dance instructor at a resort in the Catskills where young Baby is staying with her family for the summer. Baby is so transfixed by Johnny she can’t think of anything else to say, and berates herself as soon as Johnny turns away. Good thing the true introduction is in their brief but electric dance together – Johnny sees Baby enjoying the music and invites her to dance – dirty dancing style. Baby is awkward at first, but takes Johnny’s lead, and they couldn’t look any better together.