Valentine’s Day is near, and romance is in the air. At least it better be, or men across the country will be fighting Fido for space in the doghouse next week. Valentine’s Day may spin itself as a holiday for couples, but men are often on the hot seat to get the right gift or plan the perfect evening. And if a movie becomes part of the itinerary, you’ve got a better chance of getting hit by lightning than curling up with “The Dirty Dozen.” But spending an evening in the Romantic Comedy Zone doesn’t have to be an emasculating experience, or even a sacrifice for the good of the relationship. If you pick the right flick, you can both enjoy the evening without being subjected to two hours of Team Edward or six hours of Jane Austen. The last 30 years have produced a wealth of films that can satisfy the romance requirement and keep the man of the house awake. Here is one man’s attempt to make a list of movies both genders can enjoy.
If you made a list of “movies most quoted by Utah teenagers in the 1990s,” “The Princess Bride” would make the top three, ahead of “Better Off Dead” but trailing “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
This fairy tale/romantic comedy features a pre-“Forrest Gump” Robin Wright, a pre-“Wonder Years” Fred Savage and a whole lot of quotable one-liners.
I should be honest: Even though many guys seem to like "Princess Bride," I’m not a fan myself. But that just underscores the point: Ultimately, Valentine’s Day isn’t about me.
Even Fido knows that.
The most underrated of the Rocky sequels is built on a foundation of redemptive romance.
Clubber Lang (Mr. T) is an up-and-comer who wants a shot at Rocky’s title. Rocky is more interested in promotional matches with pro wrestlers named Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan). Then Mr. T insults Adrian at Rocky’s big statue unveiling, and Rocky has no choice but to fight him to preserve her honor.
That’s romantic, right? Right? OK, fine. I had to try.
In a sympathetic role light years from his awkward exploits on television’s “The Office,” Steve Carrell plays a widower who is trying to piece his life together while raising three complicated daughters.
On a weekend trip to the family cabin, Carrell runs into a woman at a local bookstore who could be the solution to all of his problems … if she wasn’t already dating his brother.
If we can take one lesson from “Grumpy Old Men,” it's that no one dishes insults quite like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.
If there’s a second lesson, it's that romance is not the exclusive territory of the young. When a radiant widow (Ann Margaret) moves in across the street from a pair of bickering old codgers (Lemmon and Matthau), the result is a classic love triangle.
When a cynical TV reporter (Bill Murray) takes a road trip to Pennsylvania for his annual Groundhog Day report, he thinks he’s at the low point of his career.
Instead he winds up re-living that same morning over and over again until he figures out how to win Andie McDowell’s heart.
“Groundhog Day” catches Murray in his transition between zany “What About Bob?”-style roles and more grounded roles in films like “Rushmore.”
John Hughes is the king of 1980s romantic comedies, most of which are centered around teen angst and perfect for this list.
But if you’re looking for something a little different, the Hughes-penned “Mr. Mom” offers a romantic story for couples who have already said, “I do.”
When a Detroit automaker (Keaton) gets laid off, he takes over the home duties while his wife (Terri Garr) sets out to bring home the bacon. Hilarity, tuna fish and bad ’80s moustaches ensue.
“Joe” may look like a goofy comedy, but it’s actually a meaningful story with great depth.
This underrated gem is actually the first film teaming up Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (who plays three different roles in the film).
Hanks plays Joe, a miserable zombie of a man who decides to throw himself into a volcano when he finds out he has a terminal "Brain Cloud." Luckily, three Megs and four massive steamer trunks come to the rescue.
If Hugh Grant is the John Wayne of romantic comedies, this is his “True Grit.”
“About a Boy” is actually about two boys. One is an awkward pre-teen who wears sweaters that look like they were hand-woven as a cruel joke. The other (Grant) is a materialistic 30-something who has been living off the royalties of his dead father’s novelty Christmas song his whole life.
When their lives are tangled by a botched suicide attempt, both grow up just enough to land the women of their dreams.
“500 Days” is not a typical love story. And it’s not just because the plot is told out of sequence, leap-frogging throughout the 16-month courtship of two greeting card company employees (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Zooey Deschanel).
But while “500 Days” may not follow the typical pattern, it tells a story that is starkly real, no more so than when a split-screen sequence tells simultaneous versions of what Gordon-Leavitt expected from a romantic dinner party and what he actually experienced.
Think of this as an Italian version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
Cher (yes, Cher) plays a newly engaged New York accountant who is charged with mending the bad blood between her fiance (Danny Aiello) and his estranged brother (Nicholas Cage).
Then the moon, the opera and Cage’s artificial hand interfere, and everyone winds up in a third-act breakfast table scene that is so funny and so awkward that it won Olympia Dukakis an Oscar.