What is it that makes audiences want to “ship” their favorite characters? It all comes down to one word: chemistry!
Some actors have amazing chemistry with each other, making their onscreen interactions really come to life. And when these actors portray onscreen couples, you see some real sparks start to fly!
If you’d like to see what onscreen chemistry looks like, there is no better decade than the 1990s. And if you don’t believe us, check out this list of 90’s movie couples with amazing onscreen chemistry!
Robbie and Julia, ‘The Wedding Singer’ (1998)
The Wedding Singer successfully weaves a tale of both heartbreak and love together using awesome music as the thread. And at the heart of this movie is the growing relationship between Robbie and Julia, played by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
As someone who was ditched at the Altar, Robbie is convinced he’ll always be alone. But the screen lights up whenever he is with Julia, as she shows him how to find happiness once again.
Romeo and Juliet, ‘Romeo + Juliet’ (1996)
It feels a bit like cheating to include Romeo + Juliet on here. After all, this movie serves to recreate the most famous love story of all time!
Even with that in mind, though, the chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as our two leads is both palpable and hot. In fact, these two are so cute together that it was enough to get a bunch of middle schoolers to actually care about Shakespeare back in the mid-’90s!
Jerry and Dorothy, ‘Jerry Maguire’ (1996)
Sometimes, onscreen couples with wild chemistry come from some surprising actors. Jerry Maguire gives us Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger (in her breakthrough role) as an unexpected pairing that is downright adorable! Jerry is a sports agent who gets fired when he discovers a sense of integrity, and Dorothy is the single mother accountant who leaves her job for him because she believes in his ideals.
Watching their growing relationship overcome a variety of obstacles is empowering. But we also love this onscreen couple because it reminds us that the best relationships are built on mutual ambitions for each partner to lift the other up. And with iconic lines like Jerry’s “You complete me” and Dorothy’s “You had me at hello,” these two are easily one of the best film couples of the ’90s.
Sam and Annie, ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ (1993)
Sleepless in Seattle feels like a wonderful artifact of the pre-internet years. That is because the premise is that widower Sam (Tom Hanks) must take to the radio waves in search of a new romantic partner. And once he meets Annie (Meg Ryan), the chemistry is absolutely crazy.
In fact, the chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is so good that we would see them as a couple again five years later in You’ve Got Mail. And you better believe the sparks were still there in that movie as well!
Murray and Dionne, ‘Clueless’ (1995)
Sometimes, what makes onscreen chemistry to believable is how real the couple seems. A great example of this comes from Murray and Dionne in Clueless, played by Donald Faison and Stacey Dash. While the two high school students sometimes disagree, even their fights have the tempo and tone of an old married couple.
And while it’s played for laughs, Murray calming Dionne down after her scary freeway driving experience is amazing. He sees that she is in emotional distress and offers her unconditional love and support. And like fellow car passenger Cher (Alicia Silverstone) observes, this display is enough to make all of us realize how important love really is.
Denise and Kenny, ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’ (1998)
For audiences of a certain age, Can’t Hardly Wait is a perfect time capsule of days gone by. And the characters of Kenny and Denise, played by Seth Green and Lauren Ambrose, remind us of just how awkward high school romances can be.
These two characters get locked in a bathroom together, forcing them to be honest about their fractured friendship and growing feelings. Their relationship seems messy but genuine, and watching these characters grow closer is enough to melt your heart.
Bill and Betty, ‘Pleasantville’ (1998)
In Pleasantville, Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen sizzle as Bill, a soda shop worker with a hidden passion for painting, and Betty, a perfect housewife, characters living in a black-and-white 1950s sitcom world. But as they learn to feel real emotions, they transform into color. At the heart of their heated relationship is a powerful message for audiences: love can be revolutionary. In fact, couples shouldn’t settle for anything less!
Josie and Sam, ‘Never Been Kissed’ (1999)
The romantic setup in Never Been Kissed is too creepy to fly today in a post #MeToo world. After all, Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a 25-year-old undercover reporter pretending she is a high school student, and Sam (Michael Vartan) is the English teacher falling in love with her.
But if you can get past the yuck factor of that setup, Never Been Kissed is a fun meditation on what someone would do if given a second chance at high school. Josie and Sam earn a spot on the list for their iconic first kiss at the end of the movie, which takes place after Josie is revealed as a reporter. And the movie offers a reassuring message that life after high school will be much, much better!
Annette & Sebastian, ‘Cruel Intentions’ (2000)
Cruel Intentions has a very unconventional romance set up by a wild plot. Sebastian (Ryan Philippe) plans to seduce Annette (Reese Witherspoon) as part of a cruel bet that he can destroy the reputation of this virginal good girl.
However, in his attempts at manipulating Annette, he ends up falling in love with her. If you like to see onscreen couples overcome powerful obstacles to find a kind of bittersweet happiness, then this movie is just what you’ve been looking for!
Jack and Rose, ‘Titanic’ (1997)
No list of hot ’90s movie couples would be complete without Jack and Rose from Titanic. From Leonardo DiCaprio’s “I’m the king of the world” to Kate Winslet’s “I’ll never let go,” these two had some of the most quotable lines of the ’90s, not to mention some of the best chemistry.
Titanic has a lot of things to say about social class, love, and fate. But if you didn’t catch all that because you kept rewinding to the car love scene, we won’t hold it against you!