Valentine’s Day Movies for the Rest of Us

If you love romantic movies, there are about ten million possibilities if you want to watch a film on Valentine’s Day, most of which are helpfully packaged in pink and red at Wal-Mart to help menfolk who are out shopping for their ladies. Romantic movies run the gamut from tearjerking same-sex epics to wholesome teen musicals in an attempt to hit every possible demographic.

But what about the rest of us, who don’t like romantic movies? We who gag at the mention of Nicholas Sparks and have had to have our eyeballs surgically removed from the backs of our heads after watching Another Cinderella Story? What is there for us to watch on Valentine’s Day? Believe it or not, whether you’re a misanthrope or a serial killer, there’s a love story out there for you.

Buy Stardust on DVD

For Lord of the Rings Fans, D&D Buffs, and Fantasy Lovers

A lovestruck young man ventures into the magical kingdom of Stormhold to fetch a fallen star for the girl of his dreams, only to find the REAL girl of his dreams.

Starring: Ben Barnes, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, narrated by Ian McKellen

If you’re into the fantasy genre at all, you know that Neil Gaiman is a genius. Anyone looking to get into writing fantasy or science fiction should be required to take lessons from Neil Gaiman on balancing familiarity and imagination. This is a fabulous adaptation of a story that involves an all-star cast, flying pirate ships, witches, sword fights, castles, and one of the most impressive examples of acting I’ve ever seen (hint: it involves Mark Strong and a voodoo doll).

Buy Enemy at the Gates on DVD

For World War II History Buffs and War Movie Enthusiasts

Famed Soviet sniper Vassili Zaitsev dukes it out with his German opposite number as Nazi bomber turn the city of Stalingrad to rubble. If he wins this contest, it could turn the tide of the war.

Starring: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weiss

One of the things I like best about this movie is that the British/American actors don’t try to fake Russian or German accents (if you’ve seen K-19 you know why trying to do so is not a good idea). The love story here is a triangle involving Vassili, the commisar publicizing his feats, and a female soldier (yes, Russia had female soldiers back then!). Tragic yet uplifting, this is one of the best war movies I’ve ever seen.

Buy Aeon Flux on DVD

For Science Fiction fans and Comic Book Nerds

An assassin, one of the last few hundred survivors of a dealdy epidemic, is sent to kill the dictator of their futuristic society only to discover that everything is not what it seems.

Starring: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Johnny Lee Miller

This movie, which is based on a comic book, has it all: futuristic technology, martial arts/gun battles, skintight outfits, and a love story that’s organic to the plot rather than jammed in to appease the girlfriends of male nerds. I can’t tell you much about it without including spoilers, but it does have a happy ending.

Honorable mention: Return of the Jedi

Buy Love Me If You Dare on DVD

For Showcase Subscribers and People Who Love Unconventional European Films

Known as “Children’s Game” in French, this subtitled comedy/drama from France follows Julien and Sophie, who have been daring each other to perform increasingly outrageous stunts since childhood.

Starring: Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard

Be forewarned that this film has an ending that can (at best) be considered odd, but if you’ve seen a lot of continental European films it’s actually pretty tame. This movie is all about the journey anyway. The stunts that they come up with are wacky and hilarious and watching two people dance around the fact that they’re meant for each other is sweet, especially when they’re only eight.

Buy Romancing the Stone on DVD

For Adventurers and People Who Love Irony

A lonely romance novelist with no travel experience enlists the aid of a jaded mercenary to help her find the treasure that will allow her to rescue her kidnapped sister from a Colombian drug lord.

Starring: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito

The irony here is that this comedy pokes fun at the absurd plots of romance novels from within the framework of a plot that could have come from a romance novel. Ms Romance and Mr Uncouth naturally fall in love through the course of the film, but there’s enough crocodiles, motor vehicle stunts, and jungle survival to please even the biggest Indiana Jones fanatic. As a bonus, you can turn it into a 4-hour movie marathon by screening it back-to-back with its sequel Jewel of the Nile.

Buy The Signal on DVD

For Serial Killers and Horror Film Fans

Three characters (a woman, her boyfriend, and her husband) find their lives are interwoven in the aftermath of a mysterious signal that makes everyone who watches it crazy.

Starring: Anessa Ramsey, AJ Bowen, Justin Welborn

The story is told in three parts from three different perspectives by three different directors, but make no mistake, it all fits together. This movie is simultaneously scary, hilarious, and uplifting, with a love story that sets it apart from the usual “oh, let us have sex as murder happens around us” horror movie fare. Relatively unknown, this movie is worth every second you have to put into finding it.

Buy Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on DVD

For Martial Arts Enthusiasts and Asian Film Lovers

In this subtitled Chinese film, a great warrior in Qing China must outwit a deadly assassin to regain possession of a magical sword.

Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang

Despite the furious Kung Fu battles, mystical elements, and incredible special effects that have actors dancing through the treetops during fisticuffs, this is essentially a love story between two warriors. There’s also a princess, a female assassin, and some smashing cinematography, so it holds appeal for both romantics and karate kids alike so long as they don’t mind reading.

Buy The Terminator on DVD

For Action Movie Aficionados and People With Short Attention Spans

A resistance fighter is sent back in time from an era where the world is controlled by machines in order to protect the future mother of mankind’s last hope from a robot assassin.

Starring: Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger

I have a love/hate relationship with James Cameron movies, but this one is firmly located at the “love” end of the spectrum. The Terminator gave birth to several popular phrases and spawned a four sequels. There’s a lot of action here: explosions, vehicle chases, gunfights, even futuristic war, but thematically it’s a love story, which helps it stand the test of time even now that the impressiveness of 1980s special effects has worn off.

Honorable Mention: Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Buy Dirty Deeds on DVD

For Fans of The Godfather and Members of Organized Crime

An Australian soldier returning home from Vietnam joins his uncle in organized crime just as members of the American mafia make their first inroads into the country.

Starring: Sam Worthington, Kestie Morassi, Bryan Brown, Toni Collette, John Goodman, Sam Neill

This is not your typical mafia story. It’s unexpectedly hilarious and actually kind of heartwarming. Bryan Brown, Toni Collette, John Goodman and Sam Neill get top billing in all the promotional materials, but Sam Worthington’s character is actually the center of the film. There’s the requisite murder, car chases, shootings, and destruction of private property, but there are also two love stories: between the soldier and his uncle’s mistress and between his uncle and aunt.

Buy Mulan on DVD

For Girl Power Proponents and Perfectly Capable Damsels

Set during the Hun invasion of China, a young tomboy enlists in the army in her father’s place to save him from certain death.

Starring: voices of Ming-Na, B.D. Wong, and Eddie Murphy

Also appropriate for cartoon lovers (along with 2/3 of all Disney movies ever made) Mulan is a rare mix of action, adventure, history, legend, and love story. Though Mulan is untrained she doesn’t resort to the damsel in distress mentality, instead fighting through the hardship to nearly single handedly beat an entire army. She, of course, has a love interest, Mulan doesn’t lose her ass-kickingness by becoming attached.

Buy Wall-E on DVD

For Misanthropes and Inanimate Objects

A trash compacting robot abandoned on a garbage-strewn Earth for 700 years teams up with a sleek vegetation-seeking robot to help a ship full of spoiled humans learn that they can return to the home they’ve forgotten.

Starring: voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, a MacIntosh computer

Yes, there are even love stories for people who hate other people. In fact, EVE and WALL-E’s romance, may be one of the sweetest and best portrayed in film even though (or perhaps because of) the fact that they only know about four words apiece. Show it to your lovestruck toaster and inspire it to propose to the blender. Great CGI animation and a timely message also make this a great film for Environmentalists and sci-fi buffs.

Honorable Mention: The Lady and the Tramp

Buy It’s a Boy Girl Thing on DVD

For Narcissists and Self-Obsessed Douchebags

A football jock and the braniac girl-next-door find themselves stuck in each other’s bodies until they learn to appreciate one another.

Starring: Keven Zegers, Samaire Armstrong

Mr. Football and Ms. Nerd fall for each other (naturally) but since they’re stuck in each others’ bodies they’re essentially falling in love with themselves (unnatural!) For people who spend hours staring at their own faces in the mirror wishing they could date themselves, what could be more perfect than a movie about falling in love with your own body?! Granted, it’s got another person living inside of it, but in all likelihood this is as close as you’re going to get to being able to make out with yourself, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Buy Hackers on DVD

For People Whose Major Relationship is With a Computer

A teenage computer hacker whose childhood exploits are famous moves to New York and becomes embroiled in a plot to frame hackers for ransoming an oil company.

Starring: Johnny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Fisher Stevens, Matthew Lillard

Anyone who’s owned a computer made after 1996 will find the “cutting edge” technology employed by the hackers laughable, but people who play World of Warcraft 24/7 and dream of beautiful women coming onto them will relate to main character, who manages to land a hot girlfriend despite spending most of his time in a dark room with his computer.

Buy Mansfield Park on DVD

For People Who Love Their Cousins

Set in England in the 1800s, this story revolves around a poor girl who goes to live with her rich uncle. Though she’s marginalized by everyone in the family (apart from her cousin) she finds herself being courted by a dashing visitor.

Starring: Frances O’Connor, Johnny Lee Miller, Alessandro Nivola

This is an adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s love stories. It really doesn’t matter which version you watch (though I would avoid the 2007 TV version like the plague if I were you) because the core story is about a women who falls in love with her cousin. So for those of you who pine for your relations, cursing our restrictive society, just watch this movie and travel back in time to when things like marrying your cousin wouldn’t get you arrested.

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6 Responses to Valentine’s Day Movies for the Rest of Us

Where did you get this?

Katrina Nicholson
Commented:  25 June 2010 at 19:32()

I wrote it. I posted it on my Livejournal first and when I moved up to my own website I imported all my old postings (well, the relevant ones, anyway). The original entry is here:

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