The new Hulu film Good Luck To You, Leo Grande has received critical acclaim for its frank depiction of sex and pleasure on screen. Emma Thompson stars as Nancy Stokes, a widow who hires a sex worker (played by relative newcomer Daryl McCormack) and ultimately forms a unique bond with him.
Directed by Sophie Hyde, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande initially premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was acquired by Searchlight to be released directly on Hulu. For those who enjoyed the film, there are other romantic comedies that all similarly portray protagonists hoping to rekindle a sense of romance and passion later in life.
Love Actually (2003)
Stream On Hulu
Richard Curtis’s ultimate Christmas romantic comedy follows a series of intertwining tales in London. Featuring an all-star ensemble cast that includes Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, and Liam Neeson, Love Actually has a timeless, infectious energy that makes it easily watchable.
If Good Luck To You, Leo Grande has a more intimate sensibility, Love Actually is perhaps more epic in scope. However, both films share a similar style of British humor and, of course, both feature Emma Thompson in two strong performances. Furthermore, both films explore love and sex across a wider range of ages than the typical romantic comedy.
Hello, My Name Is Doris (2015)
Stream On Netflix
Michael Showalter’s charming film Hello, My Name is Doris follows an eccentric but lovable older woman who develops a crush on a younger colleague at work. The film stars two-time Oscar winner Sally Field in a critically acclaimed performance opposite Max Greenfield.
Hello, My Name is Doris may not have the mainstream commercial appeal of other films, but it’s a memorable indie comedy thanks in large part to a standout lead performance. Like Good Luck To You, Leo Grandethis film gives an Oscar-winning actress over 60 a complicated and dynamic character.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
Stream On Starz
This classic comedy based on Terry McMillan’s book stars Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, and Whoopi Goldberg. How Stella Got Her Groove Back tells the story of a high-powered stockbroker (Bassett) who takes a much needed vacation to Jamaica and winds up falling in love with a much younger man (Diggs, in his first film role).
Although Stella is considerably younger than Thompson’s character in Leo Grande, both films deal with age gaps and its effects on romantic relationships. Furthermore, How Stella Got Her Groove Back explores the pressures of balancing motherhood and a career without having to sacrifice love and companionship along the way.
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Stream On Netflix
Another contemporary romantic comedy with one of the strongest all-star casts assembled is Crazy, Stupid, Love, which stars Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone, among others. In it, Carrell plays Cal Weaver, a recently divorced man who takes tips from a new friend (Gosling) on how to get back into the dating scene.
Crazy, Stupid, Love similarly addresses a second chapter in the life of the film’s protagonist, one that forces the lead character to confront modern love and all that comes with it. The film has perhaps a broader family appeal than Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, which is very much made for adult viewing. Still, both movies handle similar thematic terrain.
Hope Springs (2012)
Rent On Voodoo
Director David Frankel’s reunion with Meryl Streep was considerably different from The Devil Wears Prada. In Hope SpringsStreep stars as Kay Soames, who convinces her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) to attend a couples retreat in the hopes of spicing up their romantic life.
Streep charms in this film about reigniting a long-lost spark in a married relationship. In fact, Streep earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. Hope Springs takes pleasure in humorous, awkward moments much like Leo Grande. At the core, however, these two films both feature mature female protagonists in search of personal fulfillment.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
Stream On Netflix
One of the quintessential Nancy Meyers comedies is her 2003 hit Something’s Gotta Give, which saw Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton face off as a man who only sleeps with younger women and the mother of his latest girlfriend. In true romantic comedy fashion, the two characters find themselves drawn to one another despite their differences.
Something’s Gotta Give was one of those rare romantic comedies to receive awards attention, with Diane Keaton earning a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards as well as a Golden Globe win. Emma Thompson is already getting similar buzz for her work in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande. Perhaps that film can achieve the same success.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Stream On Peacock
Legendary LGBTQ + filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko directed this 2010 comedy-drama, which follows a married couple (played brilliantly by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) whose lives are upended by the re-emergence of their children’s sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). The Kids Are All Right received 4 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.
Like Leo Grande, this movie explores the discomfort and messiness of sexual exploration. Much of the comedy derives from those funny, uncomfortable moments. Just like Emma Thompson in her film, Bening and Moore similarly deliver funny and heartbreaking work in a film that remains relevant over ten years later.
As Good As It Gets (1997)
Stream On Paramount +, Epix, & Amazon Prime
James L. Brooks’s 1997 romantic comedy achieved critical acclaim and awards buzz upon its release. Starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in the leading roles, the film follows a reclusive novelist with obsessive compulsive disorder who forms an unlikely bond and romance with a single mother.
As Good As It Gets might lean a bit more into traditional romantic comedy territory in its second half, but what sets this film apart is its uncompromising commitment to making its lead characters complicated, occasionally unlikable, and painfully human. Like Leo Grandethe subtleties in As Good As It Gets are unexpected but memorable.
It’s Complicated (2009)
Rent On Apple TV
The second Nancy Meyers film to make this list is her 2009 film starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as divorced parents who start to have an affair … with each other. It’s Complicated also stars Steve Martin, who completes the film’s central love triangle.
Not only does this film feature Nancy Meyers’s trademark aesthetic (including picturesque interior designing), but also it finds hilarity and heart inside the themes of middle-aged romance and passion. If that isn’t enough to spark interest, there is always the memorable scene in which Streep and Martin smoke marijuana at a family gathering.
The Sessions (2012)
Stream On Max Go
Ben Lewin’s 2012 comedy-drama, featuring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, draws the most comparisons to Good Luck To You, Leo Grande. In The SessionsMark O’Brien (Hawkes) hires a sex surrogate named Cheryl Cohen-Greene (Hunt) to help him lose his virginity.
Not only did The Sessions also premiere at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim, but it also centers its focus on a sex-positive portrait of sex therapy. There are distinctions to be made, of course, between the characters of Cheryl Cohen-Greene and Leo Grande (the former is a real-life trained therapist, and the latter is a fictional sex worker), but both films tell beautiful stories about the importance of finding sexual fulfillment regardless of age, gender, or physical health.
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