Monday, February 13, 2012

PCP - Top 10 Movies to Avoid on Valentine's Day

Hey everyone and welcome back to CRAPOLA.  Today’s post in Pop Culture Panorama (PCP) is in honor of the Valentine’s Day holiday, and is to help warn you what not to pick out to watch if you plan on cuddling up on the couch with a movie for the holiday.  It’s my list of 10 movies not to watch on Valentine’s Day (or any other romantic occasion) with your sweetheart.  I’m ignoring the obvious films that should never be watched on this sort of occasion, like Schindler’s List, because if you think that’d be a good Valentine’s Day movie you are seriously sick and twisted.  Instead, I’m listing 10 movies that I’ve seen that were portrayed as either romantic comedies or romantic dramas, but they are not uplifting or cheerful.  Instead, they will make your significant other break down and get all weepy, or otherwise just kill the romantic mood you are trying to set for the occasion.  That’s not to say these are bad films, some of them are actually quite good, but they are not to be watched if you are shooting for a romantic evening.  Don’t be like me and make a mistake by picking one of these movies off of the list, like I did with PS I Love You for our anniversary a couple years ago.  Horrible mistake, as I’ll explain why shortly.  This list is in no particular order, its just 10 films to avoid when you are trying to set a romantic mood.  Warning – SPOILERS AHEAD – I will be discussing just why these movies are to be avoided, and in doing so it is necessary for me to reveal some of the details of the plot, so for all 10 of these films there are spoilers.  Consider yourself warned.  Now on with the list:

1)  PS I Love You.  Starring Hilary Swank & Gerard Butler.  My rating:  7 out of 10. 
This film is the one that gave me the idea for this blog post.  My wife and I had our anniversary coming up, and I wanted to watch something nice and romantic for it with her.  The title sounded good, and there was a quote on the DVD case that called the film the “best romantic comedy in a very long time.”  I wish I could remember the name of the reviewer that said that, so I could find him and smack him upside the head.  This film is not so much a romantic comedy as a morbid getting over grief drama.  The plot has Hilary Swank’s husband, Gerard Butler, dying of a brain tumor 5 minutes in to the movie.  I look over at my wife and she is completely bawling her eyes out.  The crying continues throughout the movie as Swank has flashbacks to her time with Butler, and gets love notes delivered to her on special occasions, that he’d arranged for delivery before his death, to help her get over her loss.  The film is good and touching, but definitely not a romantic comedy, not by a long shot.

2)  Atonement.  Starring Keira Knightley & James McAvoy.  My rating:  8 out of 10.
My sister in law insisted that this was the most romantic film she’d ever seen, even more romantic and a better love story than Titanic, The Notebook, Pride & Prejudice, or any number of other films that my wife’s other sisters thought were great romantic movies.  I’m sorry, but any romantic drama set against the backdrop of WWII and featuring death and destruction on a large scale, as well as false accusations of rape, isn’t my idea of a love story.  The twist ending doesn’t help the film’s cause either, where it’s revealed (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) that the two lovers Knightley & McAvoy actually both died during the war, and everything we’d seen since the WWII sequence was the plot of a book written by Knightley’s sister where she came clean on the false rape accusation and wrote a book imagining what life Knightely and McAvoy would have had had they survived the war (they wouldn’t have been in harms way were it not for the false rape accusations).  Learning the whole movie was the equivalent of a dream kind of kills the romance of the story.  It is a good movie though, and it earned its 7 Oscar nominations.

3)  Silk.  Starring Keira Knightley & Michael Pitt.  My rating:  7 out of 10.
The story of a silkworm trader, who travels long distances (from France to Japan) and falls in love with a Japanese girl despite having Keira Knightley back home waiting for him.  The film is beautifully shot, but ultimately it’s a tale of death, loss, and adultery.  Not exactly an uplifting film.

Read # 4-10 after the jump!

4)  Last Night.  Starring Keira Knightley & Sam Worthington.  My rating:  6 out of 10.
PROTIP:  If the film you are considering watching for your special occasion has Keira Knightley in it, set the DVD case down and pick something else (unless it’s Pride & Prejudice – your girl will love that one).  Clocking in with her 3rd appearance on this list, Knightley proves she likes to select romantic films that have an edge to them.  In this one, Knightley & Worthington play a married couple that have to deal with temptation while Worthington is away on a business trip.  He’s tempted by a hot coworker (Eva Mendes) and she’s tempted by an old flame (Guillaume Canet), and ultimately films about infidelity are never a good film to watch on a romantic occasion, as they run the risk of making your girl paranoid that you are planning to cheat if given the opportunity.

5)  My Girl.  Starring Anna Chlumsky & Macaulay Culkin.  My rating: 7 out of 10.
This classic coming of age love story with a cute young couple's first kiss is an adorable movie.  Too bad it kills off Macaulay Culkin with a swarm of bees, causing everyone to break out the Kleenex.  Again, any time one of the main characters dies, it becomes a buzzkill that will ruin your romantic plans.

6)  The Painted Veil.  Starring Naomi Watts & Edward Norton.  My rating:  8 out of 10. 
The Painted Veil is the story of two people that got married that shouldn’t have gotten married.  Edward Norton plays a doctor that marries socialite Naomi Watts, and promptly takes her to China, where she is miserable.  She embarks on an affair with Liev Schrieber, and when Norton finds out he further punishes her by dragging her deep into the remotest part of China to a village where he works as a doctor.  Ultimately, the two reconcile and fall in love, but not before a cholera outbreak strikes the village, and Norton is exposed to the cholera plague, whereupon he dies.  Tragic ending = tissues = romantic night ruined.

7)  Marley & Me.  Starring Jennifer Aniston & Owen Wilson.  My rating:  8 out of 10. 
Marley & Me is a cute love story that shows the progression of the relationship between Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson as they experience marriage, heartbreak (miscarriage), and a growing family, all while dealing with their overly rambunctious dog Marley.  Painted in the marketing campaign as a heartwarming family and relationship film, it actually comes to a depressing end as ultimately, like all movies with a dog as a central character (Old Yeller anyone?) the dog dies.  Again, tragic ending = tissues = romantic night ruined.

8)  Unfaithful.  Starring Diane Lane & Richard Gere.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  
Diane Lane and Richard Gere star in Unfaithful as a married couple that hit a rough patch when Lane starts a torrid affair with Olivier Martinez.  Gere of course finds out, and ultimately kills the man sleeping with his wife.  Lane then finds out that Gere killed Martinez, and the two struggle over whether or not to come clean with the authorities or to keep the secret to their graves.  It’s a good movie, and Lane would get an Oscar nomination for her performance, but again the last thing you want your significant other thinking about on a romantic night is infidelity, or also murder because of the infidelity.

9)  The Romantics.  Starring Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, & Josh Duhamel.  My rating:  5 out of 10.
The Romantics is the story about a love triangle.  Anna Paquin is set to marry Josh Duhamel, and Katie Holmes is set to be her maid of honor.  Holmes & Duhamel have a past however, and as the wedding approaches their old passion reignites.  Unfortunately, the acting is flat and the characters unsympathetic, and the film is a bit of a disappointment despite a strong supporting cast to the leads.  Despite the title, this film is not very romantic, and again you don’t want your significant other thinking about infidelity or old flames if you’re trying to have a romantic night.

10)  The Break-Up.  Starring Jennifer Aniston & Vince Vaughn.  My rating:  5 out of 10.
Usually in Hollywood films like this, the couple breaks up, and then realizes that they miss the other person so much and they reunite.  Yay happy ending.  The film is marketed this way, and audiences expect this to happen, but this movie is not that kind of movie.  Instead, The Break-Up is an increasingly unfunny view of a relationship falling apart, and the two parties involved act increasingly nasty towards each other.  In the end, the couple splits and doesn’t reconcile, and audiences are disappointed.  If your relationship is on even remotely shaky ground, don’t watch this movie ever with your significant other, much less on a romantic occasion, as this could potentially be the proverbial straw if your other views you as one of the two leads in the film (he’s lazy and doesn’t appreciate her, she’s controlling and a perfectionist).  Don’t waste your time on this movie any time of the year, but especially on a romantic night.

So those are 10 films that promise romance or laughs, but ultimately fail to deliver on their promises.  If there’s romance, there’s tragedy.  If there’s laughs, they're the bitter laughs of failure.  There is a trend in these films.  7 have a death of a central character and 5 feature infidelity as a part of the plot.  If you are considering a date movie for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic occasion, make sure none of these films are on your list.  You’ll thank me for it.  I just wish I had been warned myself before I watched PS I Love You with my wife for our anniversary.  Well, now you’ve been warned.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Thanks for dropping by CRAPOLA and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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