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Grownups In (and Out) of Love: 13 Great Rom-Coms Starring Older Actors

Because by now we know a thing or two about all that

spinner image Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin star in "It's Complicated" and Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson star in "Marry Me."
(Left to right) Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin in "It's Complicated" and Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson in "Marry Me."
Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection; Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures

If comedy is hard, romantic comedy may be even harder. But that doesn’t mean Hollywood won’t keep trying — and we won’t keep buying. As A-list stars age alongside the rest of us, rom-coms are taking on the joys and blunders of love amid grownups of middle age and beyond. That those adults don't always behave as such just goes to show that romance makes people nutty at every age. Check out these 13 fun films about grownup love and hijinks.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022)

Sure, the titular sex worker (Peaky Blinders’ Daryl McCormack) in this smart romantic comedy knows every sexual position that prim, retired teacher Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) wants to try to learn. But Irish actor McCormack brings warmth to their tentative and frisky trysts, making them more than transactional. For all her self-deprecating lines and embarrassed winces, widow Nancy has a pent-up demand to arouse delight, and does. It’s a sweet film that makes you laugh — and think.

Their ages when the film premiered: Thompson, 62; McCormack, 29

Watch it: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande on Hulu

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​You Hurt My Feelings (2023)

Nicole Holofcener has been making authentically adult comedies from the start, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus has starred in two of the writer-director’s best. Both maneuver relationships with authentic and wry insight. You Hurt My Feelings, about an author who learns her husband doesn’t like her new novel although he told her he does, brings spot-on laughs to the notion of being 100 percent honest with a spouse. “Why!? Why!? Would you do that?” might be the retort. And if you liked this one, try Holofcener’s 2013 Enough Said, with Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini as divorced parents who might just have found something true in each other.

Their ages when the film premiered: Louis-Dreyfus, 62; Menzies, 49

Watch it: You Hurt My Feelings on Vudu, Paramount+

Elsa & Fred (2014)

There’s nothing like the talents of two pros to transform a middle-of-the-road outing into something worth streaming. Shirley MacLaine and the late Christopher Plummer play against each other with panache (on her part) and nuance (on his). She’s a woman with a flair for the engaging fib. He’s her curmudgeon of a neighbor.

Their ages when the film premiered: MacLaine, 80; Plummer, 82

Watch it: Elsa & Fred on Prime Video

She Came to Me (2023)

There’s no shortage of conflicts, both zany and serious, in this comedy by Rebecca Miller about blocked married opera composer Steven (Peter Dinklage) and the accidental muse he discovers in tugboat captain Katrina (Marisa Tomei). Katrina threatens to make waves in his life not because she’s a baddie (this is not Fatal Attraction) but because, as she confesses early on, she’s “addicted to romance.” Stephen’s wife, Patricia (Anne Hathaway) is a psychiatrist with her own obsessions.

Their ages when the film premiered: Tomei, 58; Dinklage, 54; Hathaway, 40

 Watch it: She Came to Me on Prime Video

Marry Me (2022)

It shouldn’t work, but it does. That’s what you might say about the surprise pairing of Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson for this romantic comedy about pop superstar Kat Valdez (Lopez) revenge-marrying a hapless math teacher (Wilson) to spite her philandering fiancé and equally mega star (played by Maluma).

Their ages when the film premiered: Lopez, 52; Wilson, 52; Maluma, 28

Watch it: Marry Me on Starz, Vudu

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Desk Set (1957)

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were a brand. No, not one of those one-word hybrid celebrity couples but something more legendary, artistically indelible. By the time the two appeared in this romp about a TV network research librarian (Hepburn) and the engineer (Tracy) brought in to introduce computers to the company, the pair had already traded barbs and longing looks in six romantic comedies. If legend is to be believed — and why deny ourselves the pleasure? — Hepburn said to Tracy when they met, “I fear I may be too tall for you, Mr. Tracy.” To which he shot back “Don't worry, I'll cut you down to size.” Talk about meeting cute.

Their ages when the film premiered: Hepburn 50, Tracy 57

Watch it: Desk Set on Apple TV, YouTube

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

Leave it to the Brits to keep their finest employed in this retirement romp with plenty of heartache and nods to the wonders and fragilities of aging. Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and a trio of dames — Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Penelope Wilton — are among the codger lodgers who relocate to Jaipur, India, to live a dream retirement. Alas, the inn of the title is not quite the paradise promised in the brochure. Over time — and with the sweet intentions of the hotel's young manager (Dev Patel) — it proves even better.

Their ages when the film premiered: Nighy 62, Wilkinson 63, Smith 77, Dench 77, Wilton 65

Watch it: The Best Marigold Hotel on Apple TV

How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

Rom-coms were wasted on the young until female stars started being bankable beyond 30 — with help from this hit starring Angela Bassett as a hard-driving stockbroker and divorced mom on a Jamaican vacation, nudged by her best friend (Whoopi Goldberg) to give romance another spin. There she meets Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs in his big-screen debut). He may be 20 years younger, but he's more than smitten. Talk about making whoopie! Critics didn't swoon for it, but everybody loved Bassett, who won best actress at the 1999 NAACP Image Awards.

Their ages when the film premiered: Bassett 40, Diggs 27

Watch it: How Stella Got Her Groove Back on YouTube

It's Complicated (2009)

The slew of delightful comedies Nancy Meyers has written includes Private BenjaminWhat Women Want and Something's Gotta Give. Until further notice, Meyers remains the premier scribe of adult-smart rom-coms. Okay, smart might be overstating the wisdom of Jake and Jane Adler's marital-extramarital tango. Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin play a couple who embark on an affair after being divorced for 10 years. Lake Bell is Jake's much younger wife. Steve Martin plays Adam, the divorce-burned architect with the gentlest of designs on Jane. John Krasinski is hilarious and touching as the soon-to-be son-in-law who can't unsee his in-laws in a compromising moment.

Their ages when the film premiered: Streep 60, Baldwin 51

Watch it: It's Complicated on Prime Video, YouTube

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Something's Gotta Give (2003)

Nancy Meyers’ comedy about the bumpy road to “age-appropriate” love delivers two movie-star turns of a particularly fine and mature vintage in the likes of Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Avid bachelor Harry Sanborn arrives at a Hamptons beach house with his presumptive paramour and plans for a frisky weekend. Only, a cardiac event renders him a not-entirely welcome guest in the house owned by his girlfriend's mother, playwright Erica Barry. Meyers’ writing is witty, insightful – and compassionate. Nicholson and Keaton are damn funny. The fantastic ensemble includes Amanda Peet as Erica's daughter; Frances McDormand as Erica's sister, a women's studies prof; and Keanu Reeves as the ER doctor with a hankering for Erica.

Their ages when the film premiered: Keaton 57, Nicholson 66

Watch it: Something's Gotta Give on Prime Video

Danny Collins (2015)

Al Pacino tempers his “hoo-ah” tendencies with hangdog remorse and understated hope in this dramedy of an aging rocker whose excesses have caught up with him. After rediscovering his muse — thanks to a letter John Lennon penned him — Danny leaves L.A. to hole up and write music in a New Jersey hotel. Danny's manager, played by Christopher Plummer, discovers the undelivered missive. Bobby Cannavale is the son he never knew. Annette Bening brings a quiet and beguiling integrity to her role as the hotel manager on whom Danny sets his sights. As she tentatively roots for him, so do we.

Their ages when the film premiered: Pacino 75, Bening 57

Watch it: Danny Collins on Tubi

5 Flights Up (2014)

Romantic comedies don't have to be about hooking up, breaking up, hooking up. Sometimes they're about moving in tandem through life's challenges. Who knows that better than those who've stayed for the course? And if those long marrieds happen to be infused with the wit and charm of, say, Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton, all the better. New Yorkers Alex and Ruth don't think they can maneuver their walk-up any longer (neither can their aging dog), and so they embark on a mission — amusing but also tender — to find a more forgiving abode.

Their ages when the film premiered: Freeman 77, Keaton 68

Watch it: 5 Flights Up on Apple TV

Hope Springs (2012)

Even if the marriage is a little broke, Arnold Soames (Tommy Lee Jones at his most curmudgeonly) is in no rush to fix it. Loving but yearning wife Kay (Meryl Streep) wants better. And so she signs them up for a weeklong couple's counseling intensive in Maine with Dr. Bernie Feld (Steve Carell). A weeklong at Bernie's? Forget what could go wrong — what might go right?

Their ages when the film premiered: Jones 66, Streep 63

Watch it: Hope Springs on Prime Video

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