Jo’s Top 10 Romantic Comedies

I’m thrilled to welcome author Jo Richardson to the Power of 10 series. Today, Jo shares her favorite romantic comedies.

Here’s Jo!

I tease my husband from time to time (ahem) – because I really dig suspense and horror and he loooooooooves romantic comedies. But the truth is, I love them too. And the older I get, there are different things I love about them. I’ve adored so many over the years and dwindling this down to just 10 is difficult but in the end, I am giving you, my 40’s faves:

jo1Something’s Gotta Give
A swinger on the cusp of being a senior citizen with a taste for young women falls in love with an accomplished woman closer to his age.
Why it’s so great:
Jack Nicholson is brilliant at this role of a man who is used to seducing younger women but finds, surprisingly, that it’s Diane Keaton’s character he cannot live without. It reminded me of when he played “The Astronaut” in Terms of Endearment and that made me love him even more.

jo2When Harry Met Sally
Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.
Why it’s so great:
Because “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible.” – Cinched this story for me, made me laugh through tears and that is golden.

jo3He’s Just Not That Into You
The Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story arcs deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior.
Jenny Anniston, Ben Affleck, ….
Why it’s so great:
I enjoy movies like this one, where there are several couples’s stories that I’m getting. It’s crazy and fun and although I loved them all (ew, except for Bradley Coopers character), my favorite was Jennifer Anniston and Ben Afleck – the way those two came full circle did it for me. And when he went shopping and did the dishes for her family – heart squeezes.

jo4Life As We Know It
Two single adults become caregivers to an orphaned girl when their mutual best friends die in an accident.
Why it’s so great:
Josh Duhamel was so flipping hilarious in this movie. I love watching him.

jo5PS I love You (because Gerard Butler)
A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.
Why it’s so great:
You mean, besides Gerard Butler?

jo6It’s Complicated
When attending their son’s college graduation, a couple reignite the spark in their relationship…but the complicated fact is they’re divorced and he’s remarried.
Why it’s so great:
The situation comedy and reactions from Steve Martin alone are worth it.

jo7The Proposal
A pushy boss forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her Visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada.
Why it’s so great:
Dominate woman VS boy toy employee turned love at first fight? YES PLEASE.

jo8You’ve Got Mail
Two business rivals hate each other at the office but fall in love over the internet.
Why it’s so great:
Why isn’t it great? I cried so hard when Meg Ryan’s character had to give up her book store. I don’t know if I would have handled that any better. But the reveal of who her online chat buddy is, at the end, that is perfection.

thestoryofusThe Story of Us
Ben and Katie Jordan are a married couple who go through hard times in fifteen years of marriage.
Why it’s so great: I remember seeing this back in 1999 when it first came out. I didn’t like it that much back then. It was on cable a few weeks ago and I found myself watching it again with a whole new perspective. I bawled my eyes out at the end (and several places in between). Looking back now, I see that I couldn’t have appreciated this story for what it is, back then. I was still newly married, new to babies, new to everything really. Now, I get it. And I love it so much it’s on this list.

jo9This is 40
Pete and Debbie are both about to turn 40, their kids hate each other, both of their businesses are failing, they’re on the verge of losing their house, and their relationship is threatening to fall apart.
Why it’s so great:
OMG. So many moments where I’m going yup, yup, double yup. This couple totally nailed it with all the stress that comes along with being 40. Including money, parents, kids (and school!), and the ever elusive, alone time. Lots and lots of laugh out loud moments.

jo10Crazy, Stupid, Love
A middle-aged husband’s life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a newfound friend, Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars.
Why it’s so great:
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this multi level, twists and turns, who’s in love with who now story. By the time you’re at the end and it all comes to a head (no pun intended) you are dying with amusement. Not a bad way to go, if I do say so myself. Plus I love how endearing a story can be, while making me laugh and cry at the same time. WIN.


jorichardsonA movie fanatic, a writer of stories, a lover of life.

Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity – but it was too cold up North for this thin blooded girl. So today, she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.

Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

Jo tells contemporary stories with paranormal, mystery, suspense, humor, action, romance, and anything else she can think up.

* * *

In 2012, she wrote Cursed be the Wicked, a character driven, paranormal mystery romance that was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing and released in March of 2014. Jo has also written a couple of short stories as well, and her most recent full length novel, Cookie Cutter, released through Little Bird Publishing in March of 2015, broke into the top 100 contemporary romantic fiction category on Amazon during its first week of publication.

When she’s not writing, Jo can usually be found spending quality time with her family and their furry animals.

Where to find Jo…

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Woman in Gold – A Review

A fan of Helen Mirren, I make a point of seeing all her films. She usually exceeds all expectations and such was the case with her superb portrayal of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman intent on seeking justice and reclaiming her heritage. I was pleasantly surprised by Ryan Reynolds who delivered a stellar performance as Randy Schoenberg, the inexperienced but determined young lawyer who helps Maria fight a lengthy court battle that takes the unlikely duo from Vienna to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Klimt’s famous painting, “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1” is at the heart of Maria’s determination to recover property illegally stolen by the Nazis. Considered the Mona Lisa of Austria, the painting has hung for decades in the National Museum of the Belvedere Palace. It is not surprising that the Austrian establishment presents so much resistance. But Maria has a special connection with her beloved Aunt Adele (figure in the painting) and persuades an initially reluctant Randy to take on her case. As the legal battle drags on, both characters experience financial and emotional strain. But Randy bounces back and persuades Maria to keep fighting.

Set in Austria and the United States, the film also includes flashbacks to World War II. Tatiana Maslany skillfully portrays young Maria during this turbulent period. Good supporting performances were also delivered by Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Elizabeth McGovern, and Jonathon Pryce.

Several days have passed and I’m still thinking about this film. Definitely worth seeing.


Almost two years have passed since reading Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, but the powerful scenes and vivid imagery in Wild have lingered in memory. I eagerly awaited the film adaptation and wondered if 38-year-old Reese Witherspoon could capture all the nuances of a 26-year-old embarking on a journey of self-discovery, or as Cheryl eloquently put it: “Finding the woman my mother thought I was.”

I was not disappointed. In fact, I was riveted by the Oscar-worthy performances of Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, who played Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi.

A bit of back story…

After Bobbi died of cancer at age 45, Cheryl’s life took a downward turn. Her wild love for her mother turned into wild sorrow and then she went wild into her life. Hungry for affirmation, she indulged in bouts of sexual promiscuity and drug addiction. Fed up, her husband asked for a divorce. Unhappy and desperate, Cheryl picked up a guidebook about the Pacific Crest Trail and six months later started hiking from the Mojave Desert to Oregon, a distance of over one thousand miles.

Screenwriter Nick Hornby has skillfully adapted this memoir, interspersing Cheryl’s internal thoughts and a series of flashbacks with an adventure tale featuring the highs and lows of this unimaginable solo trek. From the opening scene, we can feel Cheryl’s anguish while removing a septic toenail and watching one of her boots tumble into a ravine. More unnerving episodes follow, among them dealing with extreme temperatures, running out of water, and encountering a rattlesnake.

Early in the film, thoughts of quitting occupy Cheryl’s mind. The backpack—aptly named Monster—provided the first challenge. It was well over half her weight and Cheryl could barely stand up, let alone walk. Her boots were too small and a constant source of pain. Truthfully, I don’t think I could have lasted one day, let alone three months.

Photos of the real Cheryl Strayed in the closing credits add an authentic touch to this larger-than-life film.

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men is not a traditional World War II film. Based on a real-life treasure hunt, this action drama features an all-star cast led by George Clooney. As aging art expert Frank Stokes, he persuades President Roosevelt to include art recovery as part of the war effort.

Determined to rescue artistic masterpieces from the Nazis, Stokes recruits seven other art specialists played by Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, and Sam Epstein. Once in Europe, they split into teams and search for promising leads.

Switching back and forth between the teams made it difficult to keep track of the characters and, for most of the film, I simply thought of them as the “Bill Murray character” or the “Matt Damon character.” While there were several moving scenes, I felt there weren’t enough of them. I would like to have known more about Donald Jeffries’ (Hugh Bonneville) past and why Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) was in exile. My favorite scenes were those with Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett, who plays an art curator and member of the French Resistance.

An extra hour of film time would have added more depth to the characters. Alternatively, the film could have been told from the perspective of the Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett characters, focusing on the budding romance (or not) between them.

Life Lessons from Mary Poppins

In addition to many fond memories of the magical nanny played by Julie Andrews and her side-kick Bert (Dick Van Dyke), a Cockney jack-of-all-trades, I have a great appreciation for the life lessons imparted by Mary Poppins.


Well begun is half-done.

When Mary arrives at the Banks household, she finds the nursery in total disarray. The children are apologetic, but they make no effort to tidy up. With the help of a few magical tricks, Mary sets in motion a whirlwind of events that motivate the children to complete the tasks at hand.

Never judge things by their appearance…even carpetbags.

The children were fascinated by the bottomless carpetbag that yields an assortment of decorative items, among them a hat stand and a lamp. While there was magic in the air, Mary models a valuable lesson to her young charges: Dig deep and you will find your treasures.

As I expected. Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.

There are several lessons here. First of all, Mary is not 100 percent perfect. “Practically” could imply 80 or 90 percent, an achievable percentage and reminiscent of the 80/20 rule. Second, Mary displays a healthy dose of self esteem by setting the bar very high for herself. And most important of all, the magical measuring tape does not display any numbers. Wouldn’t it wonderful if all measuring devices outputted only practical advice and empowering messages?

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Not every task will be pleasant. The trick, according to Mary Poppins, is to find or create elements of fun. It could be singing and sharing jokes while you work or making a game out of a tedious task.

A little spontaneity keeps conversation keen.

Mary sprinkles her conversations and songs with interesting expressions, among them one of the most famous made-up words of all time—Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Even the ultra-conservative Mr. Banks finds himself using the word when involved in a challenging work scenario.

I never explain anything.

Brimming with confidence, Mary is not upset or frazzled when dealing with a reprimand from Mr. Banks. She is not apologetic at any point in the film, moving gracefully from one situation to the next.

I shall stay until the wind changes.

It was not Mary’s intention to become a permanent fixture in the Banks’ household. Once she succeeds in helping Mr. Banks prioritize his life and spend more time with the children, she takes her leave. Had she stayed, it would have been comfortable, but not challenging enough for the effervescent Mary Poppins.

Enough Said

This witty and light-hearted romantic comedy that is probably more “dramadey” features two wonderful performances by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini.

Eva (Dreyfus) and Albert (Gandolfini) are divorced, single parents dreading their daughters’ impending departures for college. They meet at a party where both confess they are not remotely attracted to any of the guests. In spite of this initial ambivalence, Eva and Albert start dating. At the same party, Eva meets and adds a divorced poet (Catherine Keener) to the roster of clients for her masseuse practice.

As an unlikely and often awkward relationship blossoms between Eva and Albert, we see another side of Gandolfini, one that was absent in his former role as Tony Soprano. As Albert, he is thoughtful and caring, willing to drop everything to please others. Eva is charmed, but still reticent about making a full commitment, and when she discovers that Marianne (Keener) is Albert’s ex-wife, she starts picking at the budding relationship.

I loved the acting and dialogue in this well-paced movie and hated to see “The End” flash across the screen. Thoughts of a sequel came to mind, but it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find another Albert. Had he lived, Gandolfini could have enjoyed a second career as a rom-con king.

American Hustle

Loosely based on the Abscam affair, a real political sting in the 1970s, American Hustle is easily one of the year’s best films. And its A-list actors—Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence—are definitely contenders for the 2014 Golden Globes and Oscars.

While corruption is at the core of this film, it is difficult to pin down each of these complex characters. As the balding and bloated Irving Rosenfeld, Christian Bale displays the empathetic side of a con artist who actually wants life to work out for others. He bonds with former stripper Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who joins Irving’s scams, posing as a British aristocrat with banking connections.

Volatile F.B.I. agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) catches up with these partners in crime and coerces them into carrying out his big-time sting. As this unlikely trio works together, Richie falls under Sydney’s spell. Struggling with jealousy, Irving must also deal with his much younger and unpredictable wife, expertly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence.

I highly recommend this engaging and entertaining film.