Out of all the films to take place in Seattle, one genre stands out in particular: romantic comedies. Sure, more recently we have the overwrought dramas of the Fifty Shades series, and our foggy climate lends itself well to horror films like The Ring. (And, of course, there’s always Harry and the Hendersons.) But by and large, Seattle’s on-screen presence, at least in the mainstream eye, has been dominated by romantic comedies: teen comedies like 10 Things I Hate About You, ensemble films like Singles, and romantic classics like Sleepless in Seattle. We’ve been at it since at least the 1960s, when the TV series Here Come the Brides debuted (which really mischaracterized our weather in its theme song).
If you’re cozying up with some popcorn and a comically large heart-shaped box of chocolates in front of the TV tonight, you have several options set in the Emerald City, classic blockbusters and indie hits alike.
Sleepless in Seattle
Let’s get this one out of the way. The romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan introduced the rest of the country to Lake Union’s floating homes and is still dominating the nightshirt selection of downtown tourist emporiums today. It lends itself especially well to Valentine’s Day, though—while it touches down on Christmas and New Years Eve, it rounds itself out as a Valentine’s Day film by the end. If you haven’t seen it yet, it might be time to hop aboard this classic. And if you’ve already seen it, we’ve mapped out the film’s locations for you to explore.
10 Things I Hate About You
If you’re in the mood for more of a lighthearted, teen comedy, look no further than this Taming of the Shrew adaptation filmed all over Seattle and Tacoma, including Stadium High School. This early vehicle for Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and a post-Third Rock from the Sun Joseph Gordon-Levitt introduced the world to the Fremont Troll and, while you can’t actually have a paintball fight at Gas Works Park, had a semi-decent representation of the city (including our Riot Grrrl roots), albeit a largely upper-middle-class one—perhaps because they went out of their way to film at Seattle locations. (They didn’t have to film the prom at the Paramount, but they did!)
This 1992 Cameron Crowe-directed ensemble film was largely about Seattle itself, and despite that, the map of Seattle is famously all off and the portrayal feels, overall, kind of cartoonish. But Seattleites have really embraced it as a camp classic—more than 1,300 people RSVPed to a hastily planned viewing of Singles at the apartment where all the titular singles lived in Capitol Hill, only to have it shut down because there’s really not enough room for 1,300 people in that courtyard.
This 1989 film starring John Cusack is the one with the iconic boombox scene in it—and while it’s not as well-known as a Seattle film, it had plenty of on-location shoots, including the statue Waiting for the Interurban and a classic Ballard Craftsman house.
While many films take place in Seattle, Humpday, directed by Seattle director Lynn Shelton, was conceived, born, and raised here. Centered around our local amateur porn festival, HUMP!, Humpday focuses on the tale two close friends—both identified as straight—who decide to make a porn together. It’s not strictly a romantic comedy in the same way the others on this list are; it’s more a romantic comedy about friendship.