With the release of the unimaginatively but appropriately titled “She’s Out of My League” last weekend—which despite the participation of “Undeclared” star Jay Baruchel doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Judd Apatow—yet another movie where the schlub gets the hot girl has entered the history books. It’s a trend that seems to be gaining steam lately, but it certainly isn’t anything new. It got me thinking, though, so I made this list of Top 10 Hot Girl – Nerdy Guy Movies. They aren’t necessarily ranked by quality, but more so how closely the plot adheres to or revolves around the girl being way too hot for the guy. If you have a Top 10 of your own to contribute, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This James L. Brooks film squeaks in at number 10 because even though the nerd doesn’t actually end up with the hot girl, he tries like hell and it drives the entire movie. Albert Brooks is a talented reporter who, despite his not-so-hot looks and massive sweating problem, yearns to be on camera. He is secretly in love with his best friend and successful female producer and hot girl Holly Hunter, who doesn’t want to admit how attracted she is to the shallow but handsome anchorman played by William Hurt. This movie is unique because it really gets under the skin of a character (Brooks) who has everything else going for him except his looks, and that one thing becomes a hugely limiting factor not just in his love life, but also his career. After awhile, his self-righteousness becomes kind of annoying, though, just as you’re experiencing similar emotions with the other two. This is a complicated, honest, and underrated movie not afraid to portray everyone’s vulnerability.
9. The Lady and the Tramp (1955) Lady and Tramp
Even though this classic Disney animated film is more about class prejudice than it is about hot girls and nerds, the title itself showcases the big chasm between the main characters. Lady is a well-groomed cocker spaniel who lives with an upper-class family. A ne’r-do-well dirty mutt named Tramp saves Lady from a group of street dogs and the two start an unlikely romance together. Tramp, who scrounges day by day for food on the street, shows Lady the ropes of living footloose and collar-free and romances her with a dinner by candlelight that contains the film’s most iconic moment: The two each eat one end of a spaghetti noodle and eventually meet in the middle. Awwww…
8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Stacy Hamilton and Mark ‘Rat’ Ratner
After getting tons of advice from popular hot girl and mentor Linda (played by Phoebe Cates), budding babe-in-training Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) goes the opposite way and starts falling for the usher at the mall movie theater, a mousy little nerd nicknamed ‘Rat’ (Brian Backer). Of course, she takes a minor detour into creep territory during one fateful afternoon in the pool-house with the school’s slick ticket broker Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), but that just serves to bring her closer to the thoughtful and sensitive Rat—even if he did put on Led Zeppelin in the car to try to ‘seduce’ her. After all, that was Damone’s idea in the first place! This is the first of two appearances on this list written by Cameron Crowe, a nerd who lives the dream. He’s married to Nancy Wilson from Heart. How cool is that?
7. There’s Something About Mary (1998) Mary and Ted, Healy, Tucker, and Woogie
All of these movies—and romantic comedies in general, really—are about wish fulfillment. At least “There’s Something About Mary” was honest and played like a fantasy, with Jonathan Richman and his acoustic guitar narrating the movie. At first it seems that there is just one schlub who’s got something for hot chick Mary (Cameron Diaz) in this Farrelly brothers comedy, but it turns out there are four guys (Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Chris Elliott, and Lee Evans) pursuing the impossibly hot, cool, and sports-loving Mary, who it turns out was once engaged to Brett Favre. She’s the first (but not the last) perfect fantasy girl on this list—the kind that was common on sitcoms like “The King of Queens” and “According to Jim,” and seen in every Budweiser ad since who knows when. In this case, the nerdy guy who had a crush on Mary since his pimply brace-faced high school days (Stiller) prevails.
6. Say Anything (1989) Diane Court and Lloyd Dobler
Lloyd (John Cusack) may not be super nerdy, but he is an avid kickboxer and he does wear a trenchcoat—yikes. In fact, we know Lloyd is a nerd because he is the “guy friend” to all these other girls who won’t date him, but instead look out for him like he’s a little brother. When he decides to pursue the class valedictorian on the last day of high school, nobody thinks he stands a chance (even though the girls secretly know how adorable he is). Even though the movie starts out following the “hot girl nerdy guy” template, it ends up being more than that as revelations about school-focused hot chick Diane (Ione Skye) come out when she’s least expecting it, and no-future Lloyd turns out to be there for her. One of the best films on this list (and Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut), it only ranks this low because Cusack’s “nerd” is the coolest thing about the picture.
5. Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) Ronald Miller and Cindy Mancini
A popular cheerleader (Amanda Peterson) pretends to be the girlfriend of a nerd (Patrick Dempsey) for a month in exchange for the $1,000 she needs to replace an outfit of her mother’s that she damaged. They each agree not to reveal it’s all a ruse (Ronald thinks it will help him become popular too), but guess what happens after spending a month with the nerdy guy? You got it, baby! Along the way, however, everybody learns important lessons about not abandoning your friends and not judging people by their appearances. At the end, Cindy chooses not to go out with all her popular friends, and instead hops on Ronald’s—wait for it—lawnmower! This movie also made a brief hit out of its title song, a Beatles classic, again. Since titling your flick after popular songs is still all the rage these days, can a movie called “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” be too far behind?
4. Superbad (2007) Seth and Jules, Evan and Becca
OK, back to hardcore nerds. Overweight Seth (Jonah Hill) and his twitchy best friend Evan (Michael Cera) talk big shit, but they couldn’t get a girl if they tried. Most of the movie (written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg) is spent talking themselves into and out of sticky situations that all stem from one thing: trying to get alcohol for a party to impress their high school crushes, who are way, way out of their league. Somehow, by the end of the film, all of their bravado turns out to be masking their own insecurities and they get a hot chick. After a drunken night where the pair tell each other “I love you” in a brotherly way (but with a tinge of homo-eroticism that’s so common in buddy comedies), they end up at the mall with the two hot girls they were pursuing the whole time!
3. Revenge of the Nerds (1984) Lewis Skolnick and Betty Childs
So—disguising yourself in the Darth Vader costume of the popular guy to have sex with his hot girlfriend under false pretenses is a sleazy, if not probably illegal move, but having seen the amount of crap heaped upon the nerds of Lambda Lambda Lambda by the jocks of Alpha Beta, you might forgive horn-rimmed nerd stereotype Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine). Hot chick Betty did. (If she likes it, is it not rape?) There’s a lot of hot girls and nerdy guys in this movie. The nerds get their revenge on the cruel popular kids by placing hidden cameras in the sorority and Liquid Heat in the jockstraps of the Betas, but it’s the inspiring rhetoric of Lewis that pushes the women of Pi Delta Pi to their side by the end of the film.
2. Weird Science (1985) Gary and Deb, Wyatt and Hilly
It takes a whole lot of teenage sci-fi craziness to get to the improbable hookup at the end of “Weird Science,” but uber-nerds Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) end up stealing super-hot 80s girls Deb and Hilly away from their bullying boyfriends Ian (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler) anyway. How do they get over their fear of talking and interacting with women? By creating one of course. If Cameron Diaz’s Mary was the ultimate fantasy girl, then hot chick Kelly Le Brock’s Lisa one-ups her only by the sheer will of her creators, who wore bras on their heads and imbued her with the body of a fashion model, the brains of Albert Einstein, and superpowers. It may sound terribly perverted, but this is a John Hughes movie, so instead of hooking up with Lisa, she instead gives them the confidence to dress like pimps, put Wyatt’s over-aggressive military brother Chet (Bill Paxton) in his place, and stop a gang of mutant bikers from destroying their party. Of course, Deb and Hilly saddle right up to those macho dudes. So that’s all it takes?
1. Knocked Up (2007) Ben Stone and Alison Scott
As Dean Wormer once said in “Animal House”: “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Well, it didn’t stop this guy. Seth Rogen is the ultimate nerdy guy schlub in Judd Apatow’s surprisingly perceptive comedy about what happens to two people after one night of ill-advised drunken sex leads to an unwanted pregnancy. Rogen, a dope-smoker living off money from an injury while trying to start a celebrity nude website with his roomies, hooks up with Katherine Heigl, a beautiful career-minded woman who has just been given a job as an on-air personality for E! Network. The setup alone is rife with commentary about what Hollywood considers beautiful and the story unfolds with surprising care and precision, as Ben learns to grow up and Alison tries valiantly to force love into the equation. Apatow’s film is widely credited with starting today’s modern fascination with the nerdy guy-hot girl movie, but it’s better than that. A subplot between married couple Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann shows Ben and Alison that building a life together is not always roses, and after the requisite romantic comedy break-up, the two get back together to try it again. “Knocked Up” is number one because of its influence—good or bad—and because it follows the exact premise of the Top 10 to a “T” and follows it through, achieving something that’s more than just surface value.