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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Romantic movies, please; hold the schmaltz!

Published: February 17, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

Just because Valentine’s Day has come and gone—as it is wont to do—does not mean that the romance needs to end. But let’s save the fancy dinners and expensive jewelry for the special occasions. What if it is just date night and neither of you really wants to get dressed up and go out. No problem. A quiet night spent with take-out, a DVD and each other can be just as nice as the whole night-on-the-town shebang.

This of course begs the inevitable question: What movie should we watch? Ladies, your first instinct is probably a romantic movie. There is nothing wrong with that but you should always bear in mind that there are two types of romantic movies; don’t watch the kind that make you weep with your guy—it will make him hate you. He won’t want to hate you but he will. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to get together with your galpals and watch “A Walk to Remember.” All of you will have so many tears running down your faces that you won’t be able to shoot each other disgusted glances. And guys, when picking a movie, remember that your girl probably wants some iota of romance and nothing that occurs in “The Fast and the Furious” counts as that.

When picking a romantic movie to watch, keep in mind that you both should enjoy it. The following five movies seem to be movies that can be quite romantic and that both sexes can get behind:

Director Michael Mann’s “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992) definitely fits the bill for a movie that has scenes for both the guys and the gals. Taking place during the French and Indian War, this movie follows Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he traverses the wilds of upstate New York with his adopted Mohican father and brother. As they gallivant around, two British women and a British soldier come under their protection. Obviously, Hawkeye falls in love with the elder daughter, Cora (Madeleine Stowe). (Although this is not obvious if you have read the book because in the book Hawkeye, a.k.a. Natty Bumpo, doesn’t fall in love with anyone and Cora goes for his Indian brother.)

This movie has something for both sexes. Gals: It is a heart-wrenching love story that will have your face permanently frozen into that look you make when you sigh. Also, Daniel Day-Lewis is exceptionally hot in this movie—which is weird because he looks very unappealing everywhere else. Guys: Not only do you get to look at Madeleine Stowe but you also get to see some pretty graphic violence. I’m not going to spoil anything for you but you do see someone get tomahawked in the face.

Of course, not everyone can handle that. If you feel the need to scale it back a bit, Kevin Smith’s “Chasing Amy” (1997) is a good choice. It is still very shocking but in a very different way. (Let’s be honest, Kevin Smith eats shocking for breakfast.) In “Chasing Amy,” a young comic book writer (Ben Affleck) and his best friend and co-comic book writer (Jason Lee) are introduced to yet a third comic book writer (Joey Lauren Adams) who—twist—is a girl. Affleck immediately falls in love with Adams but is heartbroken to discover that she is a lesbian. He refuses, however, to quit.

“Chasing Amy” is great because, while hysterical in an out-there way, it is a surprisingly feeling movie. There are a lot of emotions flying around and a lot of the relationship issues that one expects in a romantic comedy. Most romantic comedies, however, don’t have extensive comic book discussions or multiple scenes revolving around threesomes.

If you would prefer not to give your significant other any ideas about possible future date nights but still like the idea of a comedy, I suggest Harold Ramis’ “Bedazzled” (2000). “Bedazzled” follows a young man (Brendan Fraser) as he makes a literal deal with the devil (Elizabeth Hurley) to try to woo a woman with whom he works. Needless to say, when you make a deal with the devil, things rarely work out the way you had planned. The viewers follow Fraser from one ridiculous fantasy to the next, absolutely loving the ride. “Bedazzled” is very silly but also has a very touching amount of heart behind it.

Of course, it is a remake of the 1967 version starring Dudley Moore in Fraser’s role and Peter Cook in Hurley’s role. While the original is very good, I find the remake more approachable. Also, guys, remember that the remake has a very scantily clad Elizabeth Hurley in it; Peter Cook would just look silly in a miniskirt.

If you enjoy the zany fantasy of “Bedazzled,” perhaps you should also give some sci-fi a chance. Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004) is one of the weirder movies I’ve ever seen (it’s not the weirdest, that title belongs to “Brazil”). In “Sunshine,” the flighty Clementine (Kate Winslet) has a procedure to erase all her memories of her ex-boyfriend, Joel (Jim Carrey). Joel decides to respond in kind by having Clementine erased from his mind but during the process he decides that he doesn’t want to forget her, even knowing the result of their relationship. To be honest, this is just a brief look at the plot of this movie; there are so many characters that I cannot go into any more detail. The stellar cast includes Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson.

More is not always better, however, as Goran Dukic’s “Wristcutters: A Love Story” (2006) proves. “Wristcutters” is fairly bizarre as well but the plot is easier to explain. In this movie everyone who commits suicide goes to this place after they die that is basically just like a somewhat crappier version of the real world. While there, the protagonist Zia (Patrick Fugit) decides to go on a road trip with his friend Eugene (Shea Whigham) and his new acquaintance Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon); Zia is traveling to find his ex-girlfriend, who committed suicide not long after him, and Mikal is trying to find whoever runs this world as she is convinced that she is there by mistake. You can guess what happens.

While this movie does not necessarily win points in the plot department, the acting is phenomenal, the incredibly bleak moments are often broken with incredibly funny moments and we are finally given an explanation for why things inexplicably disappear under the seats of our cars (if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about).

These six movies are sure to make any date night more enjoyable. If, for some reason, your significant other does not enjoy these movies, maybe you should reconsider where this relationship is going. It is better to end it now before either of you become too invested.