[Photo of Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead / Universal Pictures]
With Valentine’s Day 2017 upon us, I wanted to give all you lovers out there some romantic movie recommendations in case the dinner reservation doesn’t pan out. (Besides, who wants to go out in public when you can snuggle up to your significant other, sitting in the comfort of your own home?) I’ve tried to avoid the more obvious ones (I’m referring to you, Titanic), but I’m sure you’ll recognize most of my favorites.
Honorable Mention: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
I have a friend who insists that Attack of the Clones is one of the superior pictures of the saga, due to only one factor: the budding romance between Anakin Skywalker and Senator Amidala. “The love between them is so strong,” said my friend (who shall remain nameless, lest he incur the wrath of angry fan-people). Though the Star Wars prequels are oft-maligned by critics and fans alike, there is no doubting the undeniable chemistry between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, playing a love-struck Padawan and an emotionally-conflicted senator, respectively. Their Shakespearean professions of love are delivered with such grace and passion that you won’t help but be moved. Darn the ancient Jedi ways from standing in the way of such love.
OK, now I’m doing this for realsies.
#5: 10 Things I Hate About You
This movie was inevitably going to make it onto this list. Arguably the best of the best teen movies of the ‘90s/early 2000s (and this is coming from a guy who has wasted many hours with teen movies of the ‘90s/early 2000s), 10 Things I Hate About You is so effective as a romantic movie because it’s ultimately genuine, despite the insincere way with which the story got rolling. Because Cameron James’ crush is forbidden to date unless her bookish, older sister, Kat, goes out first, Cameron pleads Patrick Verona, local bad boy, to ask Kat out. Though it has what many consider clichés of the teen movie genre, like dated stereotypes, romantic misunderstandings, and dramatic, angsty speeches, this movie is great because it’s so charming. Heath Ledger, while playing Verona, is the embodiment of the word charming, as you gradually see him drop his callous bad-boy act and begin to actually care for the aloof Kat. If anything, see it for his rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
#4: Crazy, Stupid, Love
There are many bad romantic comedies out there, but for every ten Gigli’s, there’s one Crazy, Stupid, Love. It’s a film that deconstructs the romance film, and is really a modern-day examination of three different types of love: teenage, bachelor/bachelorette, and marriage. You don’t see many romantic films that are simultaneously sweet yet honest (“Your wife broke up with you because you lost sight of who you are,” says Ryan Gosling to Steve Carell), or that treat love as a delicate deliberation. The characters in this movie don’t know how to explain how “love” works; they sort of fall in and out of it by chance. But they know they just want to be loved: a sympathetic quality, and what makes this movie so watchable.
#3: Beauty and the Beast
No one makes a good movie like Gaston. Everyone knows the tale as old as time, so I won’t go into much detail about it, but everything about this movie—from the rich animation to Alan Menken’s haunting score—is close to perfection. This movie has taught every kid the importance of personality over appearances—just don’t go having sex with a bison, now.
#2: Shaun of the Dead
Guys, look how post-modern I am, including a horror film in this list. At least it wasn’t My Bloody Valentine 3D. Yes, this first major film of director Edgar Wright is just as bloody romantic as it is horrifically bloody. Amidst all the chopped limbs and blood spurts and zombie brains, there is a veritable beating heart. Liz has just broken up with Shaun, a directionless 30-something who’d rather spend his time drinking at the pub than celebrate their anniversary. Shaun wants to make it up to her, but wait—zombies have taken over London. He finally has a purpose: defend his friends from the wrath of the undead. It’s really a heartwarming tale of a guy trying to redefine who he is, and proving himself to the woman he loves. For those of you who think rom-coms are too pansy for you, check this mother out.
This is the kind of movie I think of when I think “romance.” Ironic, huh? Two robots falling in love is the best Mark can recommend? To be sincere, however, this is the best because of how innocent and pure the relationship between WALL-E and EVE is. There’s no forced drama or sexual tensions (it’s a PIXAR movie, after all). There’s not even a subplot that directly threatens to tear them apart (i.e., Gaston). This is a movie about the wonderment and pure experience of falling in love for the first time. There’s an endearing gentleness between the two robots that emerges as they interact; you don’t get many movies that show this sweet of a courtship without being annoying. Maybe it’s the beautiful reliance on visuals, rather than dialogue, that makes the film. It’s not complicated. Take the scene where WALL-E shows EVE his collection of earth knick-knacks. Or the scene where EVE and WALL-E twirl in the zero-gravity of space. Or the scene where the scout droid extends her outstretched fingers to that old trash compactor. These scenes represent what, at the most basic sense, one wants out of romance. Someone to show their interests to. Someone to dance with. Or, at the very least, someone who will hold their hand as the sun sets.
MARK BAUTISTA | Peanut Butter Enthusiast | KXSU Arts Reporter