Adapted from Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name but translated from London to Chicago, High Fidelity features Jack Black’s breakout role and several other hilarious performances. The movie has a great soundtrack, tons of obscure music references, fourth-wall breaks, romantic moments, and scenes about friendship.
Yet this 2000 Stephen Frears film isn’t the only movie to combine romance with great music. From the lovestruck teens in Empire Records to the cynical adults in This is 40, these films share High Fidelity‘s expert blend of comedy and drama.
10 School of Rock (2003)
It’s an obvious choice, but School of Rock has a lot in common with High Fidelity. It stars Jack Black and Joan Cusack as the two romantic leads. The film also has plenty of scenes to satisfy music lovers — particularly the epic battle of the bands concert in the final act — and it’s also extremely funny.
In his first major lead as Dewy Finn, arguably Jack Black’s best role, the comedic actor gets to build on the relentlessly upbeat and fun character that he plays in High Fidelity. Swap out the bratty punks from outside the record shop in High Fidelity with a class of cultivated private schoolers and it’s certainly a congruous match.
9 Empire Records (1995)
Empire Records features an ensemble teen cast who work together to save the titular record store at which they all work. The film is set over the course of one day, but contains a lot of heart, laughs, and cool music.
Other than being set a record store that viewers are sure to want to visit, the film features a budding romance between Liv Tyler’s Corey and Johnny Whitworth’s A.J. For the majority of the film, though, she’s in love with the cheesy washed-up pop star Maxwell, whose parallel in High Fidelity would be the equally sleazy Tim Robbins as Ian/Ray.
8 About A Boy (2002)
About a Boy is another Nick Hornby novel that was adapted into a film. Hugh Grant plays a middle-aged slacker who lives off of the royalties from a Christmas song his father wrote years prior. He has a tentative interest in music but is more concerned with womanizing, even lying about having a son so that he can meet women at a single parents’ group. That’s when Hoult’s character, the 12-year-old Marcus, comes into his life.
There are still plenty of reasons why it could be enjoyed by fans of High Fidelity. For example, like Cusack’s fourth-wall breaks in HF, Grant’s voiceover narration guides the audience through a lot of the film, giving viewers a window into the poor yet amusing decisions he makes– something Rob Gordon was known to do, also.
7 Almost Famous (2000)
Cameron Crowe’s coming-of-age masterpiece follows a 15-year-old aspiring music journalist, William Miller, who pretends to be an adult in order to land a gig writing for Rolling Stone. The assignment takes him on tour with the rock band Stillwater, where he is witness to rock and roll shenanigans, falls in love, and repeatedly tries to interview the band’s elusive guitarist.
The movie, which was released the same year as High Fidelity, features a charming performance by Patrick Fugit as William, and by Frances McDormand– her phone call with Stillwater guitarist Russell is one of McDormand’s most iconic scenes. It’s a thoroughly moving movie and sure to satisfy the cravings of any movie-loving rock fan with its awesome soundtrack and focus on touring lifestyle.
6 (500) Days Of Summer (2009)
This movie’s protagonist, like Rob in High Fidelity, has a warped approach to women and relationships. The film follows the nascent romance between Tom and the new girl at work, Summer. Tom is convinced that she’s the woman of his dreams because she, too, is a fan of The Smiths, who have one of the best songs in (500) Days of Summer. However, their relationship is disastrous and is told through a non-linear timeline spanning 500 (mostly miserable) days.
Other than the toxic male lead who spirals into depression and anger when things don’t go his way, High Fidelity fans will like this film because of the soundtrack, which is filled with ’80s and ’90s indie music, and because there are plenty of meta-references to rom-coms and relationships. (500) Days essentially turns the genre upside-down in despair.
5 Heart Beats Loud (2018)
Nick Offerman plays a Brooklyn record store owner in this hidden gem, which also stars Ted Danson and Toni Collette. When he and his daughter jam together and record a song for fun, he uploads it to Spotify without consulting her and it ends up going viral. They soon form a band, “We’re Not A Band,” while Offerman contends with his store going bust.
Heart Beats Loud is feel-good and sweet, foregrounding the relationship between the father and daughter. Fans of High Fidelity will enjoy it, though, as the original music composed for the film by Keegan DeWitt is excellent, as is the rest of the soundtrack, including Jeff Tweedy and Mitski. Also, it’s always great to see a cool record store on screen.
4 The Boat That Rocked (2009)
In The Boat That Rocked, a group of “drug takers and lawbreakers,” as the government deems them, run a pirate radio station from a boat off the coast of the UK. The ensemble calls themselves “pirates,” as they illegally broadcast rock and other alternative music onto the airways — the only station in England on which rock fans could hear this music.
The movie is so great because it features some of the best British actors of the last fifty years, including Bill Nighy, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Emma Thompson. The soundtrack of ’60s musicians such as Tommy James and the Shondells is also wonderful, and there are some truly poignant moments involving the fate of Radio Rock.
3 This Is 40 (2012)
In Judd Apatow’s This is 40, Paul Rudd plays Pete, a witty, aging rocker who runs a failing record label. Pete has two bickering daughters whom he tries to turn onto his music, but they, and his wife, prefer the likes of Nicki Minaj, much to his disappointment. The movie is a sweet story about turning 40, raising children, and following through with your dreams: it’s part rom-com, with the “com” part the largest.
Rudd’s character Pete could almost be High Fidelity‘s Rob ten years in the future if he has kids, mellows out significantly and continues to navigate the complexities of being in a relationship. The movie also features a cameo from Green Day’s Billie-Joe Armstrong and has a soundtrack featuring The Pixies and Wilco.
2 Serendipity (2001)
Viewers who enjoyed the rom-com moments in High Fidelity, such as when Rob opens up about the top 5 things he misses about Laura, will find a lot to like in Serendipity. It follows the two strangers in New York who form an instant connection on Christmas Eve, in one of the best rom-com meet-cutes. However, one of them, Sara, is a strict proponent of fate and believes if they are meant to be together, they will find their way back to one another.
The rest of the movie plays out over several years, with the couple just missing each other on several occasions. It’s a lot gooier than High Fidelity, but it’s still one of John Cusack’s best lead roles and is sure to elicit some laughs.
1 I Love You, Man (2009)
Like High Fidelity, this film is largely about grown men bonding over their nerdy obsession with music. In the case of I Love You, Man, Peter (Paul Rudd) and his newly found best friend Syndey (Jason Segel) jam Rush songs in the latter’s garage, while Peter’s girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones) wonders where he is as she is planning their upcoming wedding.
Peter and Sydney’s relationship is a certified bromance, compared to Rob’s relationship with his record store coworkers, Barry and Dick, who all constantly bicker. Nevertheless, this music-filled rom-com would get the seal of approval from the notoriously picky Barry, who would love the inclusion of Rush into the movie.