Love is in the air, can you feel it? And with love, we all know what that means, a Valentine’s Day romantic comedy movie night! For some of us, romantic comedies are not our genre of choice. While there are certainly some romantic comedy films worth watching (that’s a list for another day), there are other amazing options that explore love, relationships and life far more interestingly.
Whether it’s a classic love story, getting over a break-up or finding your love, the following films all offer their own unique approach to love and on Valentine’s Day, isn’t that what this is all about? With that in mind, here are some alternatives for you to pitch to your significant other this Valentine’s Day.
9. Slumdog Millionaire
Best Picture winner in 2009, Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of Jamal (child Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, adolescent Tanay Chheda) and his attempt to win the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? At first glance Slumdog Millionaire is Jamal’s life story, but in reality, it’s a love story. It’s Jamal’s search for Latika, his interactions with his brother Salim (adult Madhur Mittal, adolescent Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, child Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail), and proving that even a “slumdog” has what it takes to win.
Offering glimpses of the slums of India, the rough streets, hard lives of underground criminals, prostitution and doing what it takes to survive, Slumdog Millionaire ultimately is a love story. Yeah, there’s plenty of dark moments, but by the end reunion for Jamal and Latika and the Jai Ho dance, you remember that for these two, love conquers all.
Your pitch: A love story with a happy ending.
8. High Fidelity
High Fidelity should have been marketed with the motto “a romantic comedy told from the eyes of a guy.” The basis for this story of Rob (John Cusack) tracing back his lack of understanding women through ex-girlfriends, has gone on to be a classic TV sitcom trope. Rob buries himself in music, his record store and eventually his ex-girlfriends on a path of self-discovery, or in many moments, self-loathing. For many, you could argue that High Fidelity is Cusack’s best film.
The movie is filled with awesome music, hilarious moments and a scene stealing performance from Jack Black. Like Slumdog Millionaire, High Fidelity is a happy story and our guy finds love again.
Your pitch: It’s really a chick flick, but told through a dude’s eyes!
7. Some Like It Hot
Billy Wilder’s 1959 classic starring Marylin Monroe as Sugar Kane, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, might not be in your initial list of love stories, but fret not, love is there. It’s a superficial love, heck, even a love centered around money and beauty, but that doesn’t detract from the film’s excellence. While Monroe is known for her iconic performance (and white dress) in The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot is one of her best performances and iconic in it’s own right.
Outside of the visually stunning Monroe, it’s another fantastic comedy thanks to great performances from Curtis and Lemmon. It was nominated for and won numerous awards, and it widely regarded as one of the best comedies ever put to film. An odd, but classic love story, each of the main characters finds “love” in some way, shape or form, and in the end, “nobody’s perfect.”
Your pitch: A classic! It’s got love, cross dressing, Marylin Monroe and sandy beaches.
6. The Graduate
Another classic, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman is more a coming of age story than love story, but it applies in the latter category thanks to the twists and turns of the confused young Benjamin. Directed by Mike Nichols, this 1967 gem is a landmark of cinema. Supported by an iconic soundtrack from Simon & Garfunkel, The Graduate defines elements of the 1960’s and the generational gap of the period.
In terms of love, The Graduate tackles sex like few films before it. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) was a sexual icon, Benjamin was a rebel without a cause. His aimless wanderings that eventually lead to his love for Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross), are what nearly every 20-something can relate to on some level. It’s a film that’s been referenced endlessly in pop culture and it’s a sure bet for Valentine’s Day.
Your pitch: Another classic that defines a generation and still relates to every generation thereafter, all ending in a runaway bride!
5. Dumb & Dumber
Wait a minute, Dumb & Dumber is a buddy comedy, not a love movie right? You’re not crazy if you’re questioning this choice on the list, but remember that the driving motivation for the film is Lloyd’s (Jim Carrey) love for Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) and his desire to reunite her with her suitcase. But what about other kinds of love? Obviously there’s guy love, aka bro love, despite the rivalry later in the film. Harry falls for Mary too of course, so there’s that. The lesson here? Lots of laughs and love. A perfect Valentine’s compromise. It’s one of the best buddy movies, and celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary this year.
Your pitch: Laughs, love and endless quotable moments.
This Paul Thomas Anderson film is Adam Sandler’s best performance to date. Besides the obvious connection with “love” right there in the title, it’s actually one of the sweetest and most romantic movies in recent memory. Barry (Sandler) is a sad, angry and lonely man. He has a bunch of terrible sisters who all terrorize him. He’s a rumbling volcano always ready to erupt. The film showcases standout performances from an astounding cast (Emily Watson, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Luis Guzman), beautiful cinematography and a heart-warming love story.
By the end, you’re amazed that you watched Sandler deliver this performance and completely invested in Barry’s relationship with Lena (Watson).
Your pitch: A surprising love story that stars Adam Sandler not making fart jokes.
Oh man, prep the tissue box if you pick Up. As anyone who has seen this will vouch, it has the most heartbreaking beginning to an animated movie – ever. But it’s that heartbreak that ultimately makes this a great pick for Valentine’s. Yes, the relationship is gone on screen, but the love that Carl (Ed Asner) has for Ellie is enough to make you want to snuggle up hard and tell your significant other you love them. It’s one of Pixar’s best films and has plentiful good feelings and laughter to balance the rough opening minutes.
It’s not a movie about loss. It’s about recognizing, embracing and cherishing the memories you’ve shared, then creating new ones. Life is an adventure and “adventure is out there!”
Your pitch: A sweet movie about love, life and friendship.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The greatest breakup movie ever. While it may not seem like a movie to watch on a date, it may actually be therapeutic. If you’ve bonded over past relationships, or rekindled a romance, then this is your movie. Jim Carrey gives one of his most dramatic and powerful performances as Joel, desperate to erase his memory of his ex, Clementine (Kate Winslet).
It’s while losing those memories that he realizes that he overlooked the good, while dwelling on the bad. It’s a movie that teaches us to live in the moment, look at the past as lessons and remember the good from difficult times. Other than telling a cerebral and intelligent story, Eternal Sunshine is a visually beautiful movie with a stellar supporting cast.
Your pitch: An alternative romance movie with an amazing cast.
The greatest romance movie ever made. Casablanca, Best Picture winner in 1943, cemented Rick (Humphrey Bogart) as a timeless hero and Bogey as a Hollywood icon. The supporting case of Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson fill out a story that is as timeless as are the quotes, locales and moments.
What makes it the greatest romance movie ever is up to debate, it could be any number of things, but one strong argument is that it bucks almost every romance cliché. The guy doesn’t get the girl! You can’t get much more unique than that. AFI ranked Casablanca as the #2 movie (1998), as the #1 Passion movie (2002), Rick as the #4 Best Hero (2003), “As Time Goes By” as #2 Best Song (2004) and 6 out of 100 quotes in AFI’s Best Movie Quotes (2005).
If the accolades aren’t convincing enough, there’s nothing else you can say. You might as well end it right then and there.
Your pitch: The greatest romance movie ever