The Great Date Night Movie Compromise
Romantic Tearjerker: His Pick
From Gary Oldman chewing up the scenery as a dope-dealing crooked cop to Natalie Portman as the ingénue who falls for a middle-aged, mentally-challenged hitman who can't read, this tragic early May/late December romantic tearjerker has it all. It also somehow manages to retain its innocence despite its creepy Lolita theme (as long as you don't think about it too much). Show me the person who doesn't get a little misty during the scene where [SPOILER ALERT] Leon and Mathilda share their final goodbye before he shoots and explodes his way out of the building in which they were hiding. Leon was so close to having a real life, but he knew it wasn't meant to be—and his final sacrifice proves to be the wind beneath Mathilda's wings.
Her Rebuttal: Natalie Portman plays a 12-year-old who falls for a middle-aged mentally challenged man. I like my date night movies sans ick-factor, thanks.
Romantic Tearjerker: Her Pick
Sometimes a girl just needs a little sappy romance featuring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ epic kiss in the rain (emphasis on the Gosling part), you know? She waited for him for seven years. He wrote to her every day. I’ll stop quoting the movie verbatim now – I need to get some tissues, anyway. Remember: I could have asked him to watch A Walk to Remember or Dear John. The Notebook is getting off easy.
His Rebuttal: This movie is like bedbugs: Every dude is worried about discovering The Notebook in his apartment and suddenly having an itchy suspicion that he's being held to an unattainable Goslonian standard of romance. I's not real folks; not like The Professional. Also why does Rachel McAdams have to play Cyclops (a.k.a James Marsden, who played Cyclops in X-Men and Ryan Gosling's romantic rival in The Notebook) like that? What did Cyclops/James Marsden do to deserve getting played by his lady in every movie? Poor Cyclops—at least he’s one of the X-Men.
Romantic Tearjerker: The Compromise
All the genre-bending goodness of The Professional combined with The Notebook's sad old folks. This sci-fi epic about aliens, the fountain of youth, and the elderly of southern Florida is a real think piece—plus, '80s icon Steve Guttenberg in it. It makes you think about growing older with the people you love, and ultimately having to say goodbye to them all. It also makes you think about Steve Guttenberg getting it on with an alien. These are all great reasons why this is a great romantic tearjerker compromise (Warning: The scene with Hume Cronyn and his wife in the pool is almost too sad.)
Sci-Fi: His Pick
Schwarzenegger, Weathers, and Ventura all in their prime and not talking about politics—it almost doesn't get any better than that. It's like an unholy union of 'roid-radness muscling its way onto your TV screen to battle a shimmery invisible alien that has a face like a crab and a taste for human skull trophies. This movie represents everything that was good about the '80s and helps explain why so many of us guys who grew up during that enchanted time are so severely emotionally stunted 20 years later.
Her Rebuttal: I know he's Mr. Universe, but I have trouble rectifying present-day Arnold Schwarzenegger with any of his old movie work. We'll always have The Terminator, though, Arnold.
Sci-Fi: Her Pick
If I’m going to watch science fiction, there needs to be a love story involved. But please don’t speak to me in Na’vi.
His Rebuttal: This movie is like a Bread and Puppet performance on the big lawn at UVM—you think its very profound until you sober up.
Sci-Fi: The Compromise
All the awesome ‘80s monsterness of Predator with none of the lingering aftertaste of Avatar. Plus, there's a sweet love story between Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Jonesie, her mischievous feline companion. And if you want to turn your sci-fi evening into a double feature, watch the Alien sequel, Aliens ("This time it's plural" probably should have been the tagline), because it provides an important window on a time when James Cameron actually knew how to make an awesome science fiction movie.
Chick Flick: His Pick
If we're gonna do this, we're gonna do it right. "Oh guys don't like chick flicks—they can't handle them." Whatever. If I'm going to watch a chick flick, I'm keeping it real: Think The Joy Luck Club, Thelma & Lousie, Steel Magnolias, Water for Elephants, or The Astronaut's Wife. You name it, I can take it. I eat Amy Tan for breakfast!
Her Rebuttal: I have no problem with Steel Magnolias, but when I'm in the mood for a "chick flick," I want a light, fluffy confection that requires no thinking, heartbreak, or emotional attachment beyond "Mark Ruffalo sure is cute!"
Chick Flick: Her Pick
13 Going on 30
A teenager’s birthday wish coming true in a Big-style comedy featuring Mark Ruffalo and the normally-stoic Jennifer Garner doing the “Thriller” dance? Best clear the living room; it’s time to bust a move.
His Rebuttal: This seems like a soft option—not nearly enough astronauts, elephants, or Dolly Parton.
Chick Flick: The Compromise
Fried Green Tomatoes
"KEEPIN IT GULLY WITH JESSICA TANDY! SAY WORD." -Aaron Traister
The Classics: His Pick
This is a gross movie about disgusting and depressing people—but that doesn't mean it isn't one of those films that you should see several times before you die.
Her Rebuttal: Again: I like my date night movies sans sadness and detritus, thank you very much.