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Thinking Outside of the Heart-Shaped Box

14 unconventional movies to watch with your Valentine

by Katy Littlejohn

Craig Toron, New Jersey, 2009.

There’s a lot of pressure from the traditional Rom-Com and Nicolas Sparks date nights. They depict the perfect version of love and how a couple should act in order to achieve their happily-ever-after moment. Those of us who live in front of the screen, not in it, know better. There is no moment 2 hours into you and your significant other’s meet-cute that triggers the “ambiguously upbeat pop song that has nothing to do with the plot… put in at the end to try to convince you that you had a great time…” (Friends with Benefits, 2011).

This year, men, instead of curling up with your gal and letting your mind wander until the end credits roll on Titanic or Sleepless in Seattle, find a movie that will keep both of your attentions. Ladies, you don’t really want to make your fellow feel pressured to get the Brad Pitt looks and the Colin Farrell body—that just makes them self-conscious which isn’t a good night for anyone. So this year, keep The Notebook on the shelf and consider one of these flicks for that perfect romantic evening.

1. E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Here’s a story to warm even the coldest of hearts. There’s zero romance in this movie, so there’s no pressure. The only thing you really have to worry about is whether or not you find the alien lovable or creepy. Either way, as E. T. says to Elliot, he’ll “be right here.”

2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Who doesn’t love Ferris? Besides Mr. Rooney, that is. This classic will bring you back to the carefree sort of love you had in high school.

3. Benny & Joon: The non-traditional take on a Rom-Com. This is a love story that is both multi-dimensional and real. There is heartbreak, young love, and best of all, Johnny Depp.

4. Almost Famous: If you like rock and roll, this is a great choice. Above all, it’s about a love affair with rock, but beyond that it’s got a great story line, charming characters, and a kick-ass soundtrack.

5. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: Marilyn Monroe once said that “if you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.” A good start is a classic Jim Carey movie!

6. Chicago: Though musical theatre may not be your cup of tea, Chicago features a lot of mostly naked women in heels with guns, which your man will most definitely appreciate. Plus, the Danforth’s own Music Hall is featured in the film! Keep an eye out for any other local landmarks.

7. WALL-E: Here’s a great pick if you or your date are environmentally conscious. It may be a love story between two robots, but it’s adorable. Also, the message is a great debate starter for when it’s over.

8. V for Vendetta: This is by no means a traditional love story, but it is a love story nonetheless. It also presents an empowering message: “power to the people” mixed with “Big Brother is watching”…until you lure him into the abandoned subway system and ninja him to death. Plus, Natalie Portman makes one hot bald girl.

9. Brokeback Mountain: A little heartbreak, a little social repression, a little Heath and Jake. Though ultimately a tragic and dark story, there are those moments of clarity where our two leading men exude happiness. And that’s a beautiful thing.

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: This one might strike up the conversation of “would you ever have your memory erased to forget an ex?” It’s a great question, and hypothetically phrased, a great conversation to have with someone you’re serious about.

11. Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Everyone’s got a past they’d rather run from than face. This is an absolute classic when it comes to messed-up boy meets messed-up girl. Messed-up girl tries to run away from messed-up boy, loses her cat in the rain, and we all wind up with the perfect last frame of the two of them kissing in the rain with Cat sandwiched between.

12. Across the Universe: Another musical, yes, but Julie Taymore’s direction paired with the immortal music of The Beatles just leads to a great night. As the last line in movie states, “all you need is love.”

13. Armageddon: Ok, so this one is considered one of the most romantic movies ever. However, gentlemen, for your consideration: Bruce Willis, rocket ships, nuclear bombs, and Michael Clark Duncan. Really, how much more macho can you get?

14. Stranger than Fiction: This may be one of Will Farrell’s best performances as literary character, and real-world resident, Harold Crick. The story itself is delightfully charming, but the performances of the all-star cast, including Emma Thompson, Dennis Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah, are endearing and real, completing this magical story.

The key to finding something the two of you can enjoy together: if by the end of the movie you have a million things to talk about, sparked by something that happened in that movie, GREAT! It’s not old news that a relationship grows strong when there’s good communication. On the other hand, you could always take a cue from Elvis: “A little less conversation, a little more action.”

Either way, happy Valentine’s Day, Danforth!

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