Movie date nights are my favorite. I love going to the theater and the overwhelming buttery popcorn smell and the loudness of it, but I also like watching movies on our couch with a blanket and unlimited snacks. Sometimes it can be hard to decide on a movie that both of us want to watch, however. I think when it comes to rom-coms — the classic date night movie genre — the key is to find films that have strong male leads, not just the cookie-cutter Perfect Boyfriend of chick flicks, as well as the type of female protagonist you’d want to be friends with yourself.
Here are 5 of our favorites, listed in order of release date from most recent on:
Silver Linings Playbook (Dec. 2012)
We just went to see this last Thursday, to see what all the Oscars hype is about. It was a really worthwhile movie. Sean hated the ending (I loved it), but we both definitely enjoyed everything up until then. Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a psychiatric hospital with a late diagnosis of bipolar disorder and is living with his parents while he tried to get his life back together, including making up with his estranged wife. Then he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow dealing with emotional issues of her own. The two quickly become friends, and it soon becomes clear there is a little something more developing between them.
I love how real the two protagonists in this film were. Neither was anywhere near perfect, but you couldn’t help but liking them and rooting for them to end up together (our theater actually applauded at the end of the movie, haha). While any movie dealing with mental illness is going to have some heavy overtones, there are many laugh-out-loud scenes. And don’t even get me started on Jennifer Lawrence. She is perfection in this film, and she completely deserves her Oscar nomination.
Moonrise Kingdom (summer 2012)
Wes Anderson’s most recent film is my ideal summer movie: whimsical and nostalgic. Suzy and Sam develop a romantic plan to run away together, setting off a lot of parental concern. While it’s clear that the two kids have a definite affection for one another — and identify together in their “outsiderness” — it’s also funny to watch them develop their relationship by the book because they have no idea what they are really doing. Moonrise Kingdom is a fun, carefree movie that is sure to bring a smile to your face. I promise. It’s also one of those films that’s just really beautiful to look at.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
This might be more of a “guy movie,” but I love it. Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a loser who plays bass in a bad rock band and lives in a basement apartment with his much wealthier, gay roommate when he meets Ramona Flowers, a mysteriously cool girl from the States (Scott’s Canadian) with neon hair and a crazy past. Before he can date her, he must first defeat her seven evil exes. Based on the quirky graphic novel series, which I also loved, the film combines elements of comic book and video game storytelling. It’s quite creative, I think, and has so many quotable lines that you’ll catch yourself repeating for years to come (our favorite is “BREAD MAKES YOU FAT?!?”). I’m 100% for any movie that is timelessly quotable.
500 Days of Summer (2009)
My roommate didn’t like this movie because it doesn’t have the stereotypical Hollywood ending, and also she thought the two main characters were “weird.” Whatever. I know a lot of guys who really love this movie, and I know that every girl except my roommate will love it because it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tom (JGL) falls head-over-heels for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), his new co-worker, and everything seems like it’s going great…until things fall apart. You know the relationship is doomed from the beginning, because the story is unconventionally told in nonchronological order (and you know, that whole “500 days” thing in the title), as Tom desperately tries to reason out what went wrong.
Some feminists critique this movie because Summer isn’t a fully fleshed-out character so much as the manic pixie dream-girl stereotype, who cutely flits in and out of the frame as Tom works his life out. I think this is true, but I also think that’s kind of the point. Tom had fallen in love with the idea of somebody, instead of the girl herself. Fun fact: The filmmakers chose a very blue-centric color scheme for Summer’s wardrobe and a lot of the sets (like Summer’s apartment) to emphasize the color of her blue eyes. This not only makes visual sense but also thematic sense to me — for Tom, the entire world has been constructed around this girl. He sees no one else out there for him, even if he should.
Annie Hall (1977)
This movie is a classic, with good reason. New York comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) falls for ditsy, whimsical Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Their banter is charming and awkward. This film also does so many groundbreaking things for its time, like breaking the fourth-wall by having the characters directly speak to the camera, and incorporating the contemporary characters into flashback scenes and having them comment on the memories as they walk through scenes of yesteryear. So good!