Producer, writer, actor, voice actor and above all else director, Garry Marshall has been working on movies one way or another for over 44 years and at the venerable age of 77, he is without a doubt a legend. While his movies have certainly not been critical favorites in the past 20 years, the man can still bring in a crowd and studios trust him with countless A-listers and millions of dollars.
When I think romantic comedies in the late 80’s and the better part of the 90’s, Garry Marshall comes to mind. With his latest movie, New Year’s Eve out now, there’s no better time to look at the top 10 biggest grossing movies directed by him. Numbers are from North America, adjusted for inflation (unadjusted in parentheses) since most of his popular films came out many years ago when tickets were but a fraction of the price we have today.
10. Overboard (1987) $52.6 million ($26.7M) – A nice little romantic comedy starring real-life couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. If you’re a fan of either of them definitely watch this one.
9. The Flamingo Kid (1984) $53.9 million ($23.8M) – Starring 20-year-old at the time Matt Dillon, this coming-of-age story of high-school graduate Jeffrey Willis is one of the best movies by Garry Marshall.
8. Nothing in Common (1986) $69.3 million ($32.3M) – I must have seen this movie at least three times and yet, while I remember what the movie is generally about (Tom Hanks’ parents are getting a divorce), everything else is a blur. So in other words Nothing in Common is nothing to write home about and worst of all, extremely forgettable (like most Garry Marshall movies to be honest). A great cast featuring Tom Hanks, Hector Elizondo, Eva Marie Saint and the late Jackie Gleason, manage to lift this movie a notch.
7. Young Doctors in Love (1982) $83 million ($30.6M) – Garry Marshall’s attempt at replicating the success of Airplane (1980) by spoofing hospital soap operas. While it made good money, Young Doctors in Love is a bad movie, let’s just leave it at that.
6. Valentine’s Day (2010) $110.6 million ($110.4M) – Here’s a blatant attempt at cashing-in on a already extremely commercial holiday by using a bunch of famous actors in roles you won’t have enough time to give a damn about. Simply put, Valentine’s Day is one of the most forgettable date movies ever made, so much so that you could probably watch it every year without ever remembering that you’ve seen it before.
5. Beaches (1988) $114.3 million ($57M) – This is the only movie on this top 10 I haven’t seen so I won’t judge its quality. What I can say is Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey star here as lifetime friends, presented in various stages of their lives.
4. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) $121.9 million ($95.1M) – A less charming and less successful sequel of the original starring Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo(a favorite of director Garry Marshall), John Rhys-Davies and unknown at the time Chris Pine (Star Trek).
3. The Princess Diaries (2001) $152.2 million ($108.2M) – A charming little movie that gave us Anne Hathaway. Obviously followed by a sequel (above), The Princess Diaries didn’t feature Chris Pine but it did star Mandy Moore instead.
2. Runaway Bride (1999) $238.5 million ($152.2M) – Another attempt at replicating the success of an older movie, Runaway Bride brought back Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in order to make it a second Pretty Woman. As history will tell us, it’s never a good idea to try this. When it came to box office Runaway Bride was a hit but it severely lacked in all the other departments. I remember Julia Roberts playing a woman that keeps running away from her weddings but everything else is a mystery, contrary to the fact that I saw Runaway Bride at least twice.
1. Pretty Woman (1990) $335.7 million ($178.4M) – The film that made Julia Roberts and Richard Gere huge stars, one of the most famous romantic comedies of our time and by far Garry Marshall’s most popular production to date. It’s a simple story that we’ve heard a million times before, Cinderella, but with a twist. Pretty Woman got Julia Roberts nominated for a Best Leading Actress at the Oscars in 1991 and unlike other Garry Marshall movies, you’ll remember this one.