14 unconventional movies to watch leading up to Valentine’s Day
11.02.2022

14 unconventional movies to watch leading up to Valentine’s Day

WORDS BY CHESTER OGILVIE

Plus a bonus film for good measure.

Look, you can watch The Notebook if you wish. You could also beat yourself with a sock full of apples. Both will give you similar satisfaction, but at least you may be able to make apple crumble with one. We’re not going to judge you on your movie taste, however. That’s just petty. And when it comes to petty, we like Tom. Oh, and Lori. She was as cute as a button in Point Break. Now there is a good movie.  

Anyway, Valentine’s Day is approaching. Butterflies are filling our stomachs, although that could be the booster shot we recently had. And rah, rah-ah-ah-ah, we like romance. We have our best duds ready to go for the most romantic of nights. We have our wolf shirt, oversized cargo shorts and Crocs. We have our best puka shell necklace and freshly frosted tips. We look good – and let’s face it, you look good in anything. 

After the day is done and dusted, and sweet somethings have been exchanged, you may want to unwind with a movie. And because we love love, we have put together a few movie choices to cap off your night with a little cuddling on the couch.    

*We know picking on The Notebook is not original. It is fun, though. 

What Dreams May Come

When Robin Williams’ Chris Nielsen dies and awakes in the afterlife, he finds there to be no true joy without his wife, Annabella Sciorra’s Annie, and sets out to reunite.  

If you are thinking, ‘hmm, I am looking for a movie this Valentine’s Day that feels like a heavyweight punch to the heart’, What Dreams May Come could well be the movie for you. There are some pretty stunning visuals in this, and even if the movie can lay it on a little thick, it’s always a joy watching Robin Williams. It’s a movie of wonder and imagination. Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding Jr. also give fine performances.    

Movie snack: Rainbow cake 

So I Married an Axe Murderer

A man afraid of commitment (Mike Myers’ Charlie) meets the woman who may change it all (Nancy Travis’ Harriet). Oh, and Harriet may be a serial killer. 

This film features the earworm ‘There She Goes’, a song that Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard has observed “defines the perfectly written pop song: an instantaneously recognizable melody and lyric set to simple, economic musical structure”. Mike Myers also plays the role of his dad (who provides the biggest laughs) in the film. And at 90 minutes, it is a breezy watch. Plus, think of the ’90’s fashion. 

Movie snack: Cranachan 

Frequencies (also known as OXV: The Manual)   

Taking place in a world where human worth is scientifically determined by ‘frequencies’, the unluckiest boy must find a way to the heart of the luckiest girl. 
A philosophical meets sci-fi film of star-crossed lovers. The movie comes from the mind of Darren Paul Fisher, who has said he was “looking for a way to explain why some people – and we all know them – seem to have a natural ‘timing’”. Pitched as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Primer, one could think of it as a Romeo and Juliet story where, rather than family dividing the couple, it’s the laws of nature.   

Movie snack: Galaxy doughnuts

Punch-Drunk Love

Adam Sandler plays Barry Egan, a beaten-down and lonely man who finds sunshine in the form of a relationship with Emily Watson’s Lena. 

Love can give a person great strength. And to be able to truly let yourself go around someone is a catharsis for the soul. It is twenty years since this movie came out, and it is the movie often recommended to those who don’t like Adam Sandler (I like Adam Sandler – That’s My Boy is hilarious). It also has another neat story, based on true events. You can read about that in your own time, should you wish. For now, enjoy. 

Movie snack: Pudding cups  

The Crow

One year after Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancée Shelly (Sofia Shinas) are beaten and murdered, Eric returns as an undead avenger. 

Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever. Readers may know this as the film where Brandon Lee lost his life. Following Lee’s death, Rochelle Davis, who plays Sarah in the film, a friend of the murdered couple, would not star in another movie for fifteen years. Enjoy a gothic-revenge love story, complete with a great soundtrack that includes Stone Temple Pilots, Violent Femmes and The Jesus and Mary Chain.  

Movie snack: Black velvet cake 

True Romance

A comic book fan and Elvis nut (Christian Slater’s Clarence) and a call girl (Patricia Arquette’s Alabama) find themselves in hot water when they hit the road for California. 

A rock and roll love adventure written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, True Romance has a cracking support cast that includes Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Christopher Walken. True Romance barely broke even during its theatrical run, but has since become a cult favourite. It may also have you searching for a purple Cadillac.   

Movie snack: Peach cobbler 

Benny & Joon

Benny (Aidan Quinn) is carer for his mentally ill sister Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson), a relationship complicated with the arrival of Sam (Johnny Depp). 

Ah, there is a whimsy to this movie to be sure and much of this is owed to Depp who is a delight as Sam, an outsider who slips into the worlds of Chaplin and Keaton. In the words of Roger Ebert, “The story wants to be about love, but is also about madness, and somehow it weaves the two together with a charm that would probably not be quite so easy in real life.” It will also have I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) stuck in your head for days on end.    

Movie snack: Grilled cheese sandwiches  

The Voices

A schizophrenic man (Ryan Reynolds) must choose between a talking cat who wants him to kill and a talking dog who wants him to lead a life of normalcy. 

Ryan Reynolds is a name that can pop up when people talk about actors who play the same character over and over again, but that is grossly unfair. This is a black comedy horror movie, so just the ticket for date night. And it can get pretty darn dark. And it can get a little weird. Reynolds, who also voices his pets Bosco and Mr Whiskers, has said it is one of his favourite films, calling it weird and fun and beautiful. Which it is.    

Movie snack: Chocolate chilli cookies 

Edward Scissorhands

An artificial humanoid played by Johnny Depp falls for the daughter (played by Wynona Ryder) of his adopted suburban family, following the death of his creator. 

Like in Benny & Joon, Johnny Deep’s titular character relies a lot on expression and gesture. As for Winona Ryder’s Kim, well, who of a certain vintage didn’t develop a massive crush on her following Edward Scissorhands? Tom Cruise was apparently the studio’s preferred choice of Edward, while Tom Hanks and Gary Oldman turned down the role. It worked out well. It’s a film that also deals with self-discovery and isolation.     

Movie snack: Snow cones

Jerry Maguire

Following an epiphany, the life of sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is turned upside-down, taking along Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger) for the ride.  

If you have seen the movie, you will be all too familiar with the ‘hello’ line. If you haven’t seen the movie, you would probably be familiar with the ‘hello’ line. There is also the oft-quoted line from Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Rod Tidwell. The movie has a few. It also has Jonathan Lipnicki’s Ray, the son of Dorothy, who steals all the scenes in which he features. It will warm your heart.  

Movie snack: Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs 

Dan in Real Life

Steve Carell is Dan, a widower and father of three who arrives at his parents for a family get-together, only to find himself falling for his brothers’ new girlfriend. 

There is a cosiness to this film, if such a term can be applied to a movie. There are some lovely performances all-around here, from Steve Carell as Dan to Juliette Binoche as his love interest, to Dan’s daughters. It has a big, loving family. There’s ambiguity when it comes to character likability. But in the end there is a sweet and short message that life is a surprise and lessons can be taught to us by anyone.    

Movie snack: Pancakes  

Can’t Buy Me Love

A high school nerd (Patrick Dempsey’s Ronald) bribes his cheerleader crush (Amanda Peterson’s Cindy) to be his girlfriend.  

When Ronald Miller sees his chance to get closer to his crush Cindy and be part of the cool crowd, he takes it. But wouldn’t you know it, it turns out the fast lane has its pitfalls. Ah, so goes a lesson in life. This film is a big slice of the ’80s, complete with a slow-clap scene. And if you think there is no way a scene involving a lawnmower could be romantic, then you are wrong. It takes its title from the Beatles song.  

Movie snack: Soft serve ice cream 

Can’t Hardly Wait

It is graduation and a bunch of classmates are hoping to leave their mark, including Preston Meyers, who hopes to confess his love to his secret crush, Amanda Beckett.   

The nineties provided us with some glorious rom-coms, including 10 Things I Hate About You and She’s All That, making it a difficult choice. You could arguably throw Empire Records in there as well. But in the end, it was the dough-eyed Jennifer Love Hewitt as Amanda that won us over. It also has an Empire Records cast member, with Ethan Embry as Preston. A scene involving ‘Paradise City’ is good fun, too. 

Movie snack: Cheetos 

Shrek

A cantankerous ogre teams up with an obnoxious donkey in order to track down Lord Farquaad, after his home is invaded by exiled fairy-tale creatures.

After Chris Farley died before the project was completed, Mike Myers was brought on board to voice Shrek. Following a viewing of a rough cut, he re-recorded all his lines with a Scottish accent. And what a pay-off it proved to be. Not only did we receive a highly enjoyable movie that can make you laugh as well as tug at your heartstrings, but it told not just a love story but a story about accepting yourself for who you are. 

Movie snack: Gingerbread

And for the bonus…

Con Air

When a prison break occurs on a prisoner transport aircraft, it’s up to a former United States Army Ranger to save the day. 

After serving time for manslaughter, all you want to do is head home to see your wife and, for the first time, your daughter. But then some low-down stinkin’ prisoners hijack the plane. And worse, one of them has no respect for a buhnny and its box. And that is just not on for Nic Cage’s Cameron Poe. It’s not romantic, you say? Tell that to Trisha Yearwood and her version of How Do I Live. That has romance up the ying-yang.     

Movie snack: Pink coconut things