Valentine’s Day. The day of love. Now I don’t know much about love but I do know movies and I know that Valentine’s Day is a great day to cuddle up with your loved one to watch a nice rom-com. The only problem is, what if you don’t like rom-coms? Well, have no fear because here are 10 great movies to watch on Valentine’s Day if you hate rom-coms.
10. The Lost City
While it certainly has romance and comedy, The Lost City has enough going for it to give even the most staunch of rom-com haters a good time. An adventure-comedy in the vein of Romancing the Stone, the film follows Loretta a romance novelist, and her cover star trying to survive in the jungle after she’s kidnapped by a billionaire who wants her to find a lost treasure.
Stars Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum have excellent chemistry together. They sell the annoyed banter and eventual romance of the two very well. They’re easy to root for and it doesn’t take long to get you rooting for them to end up together. The supporting cast is also great. Daniel Radcliffe is hamming it up as an entitled rich jerk, Da’Vine Joy Randolph provides great laughs as Loretta’s publisher and Brad Pitt provides a small role but hilarious as a C.I.A. agent who steals every minute of screen time he has.
The actual adventure itself is fun. It’s no Indiana Jones movie but the central treasure hunt the pair find themselves on is decent. Their trek through the jungle as they try to survive and find the treasure offers enough fun action sequences to provide an entertaining time even to those who don’t care about the romantic aspects.
9. I Love You, Man
Valentine’s Day is all about love but there’s more than just romantic love. There’s also bromantic love. That’s where I Love You, Man comes in. A bromantic comedy, I Love You, Man centers on Peter, played by Paul Rudd, a man who has no guy friends and wants to find a best man for his upcoming wedding. He ends up hitting it off with Sydney, played by Jason Segel and what follows is essentially a rom-com except instead of a man and woman falling in love, it’s about two dudes becoming best bros
I Love You, Man features every staple of the rom-com. There’s the meet-cute, the split-up, and the grand gesture but you either won’t notice or won’t care thanks to the chemistry and the antics of the two leads. Rudd and Segel are as good, if not better than most real rom-com pairings. They’re both extremely likable, they’re budding friendship is wonderfully entertaining and by the end not only are you rooting for them to be best friends, you wish you were their friend.
While it adheres to the genre formula, its unique spin on it plus Rudd and Segel’s humor make this a ridiculously fun and rewatchable flick. It’s also a surprisingly sweet look at male friendship and how the simplest and sometimes most immature things bond us for life.
8. The 40 Year Old Virgin
The film that launched Steve Carell into superstardom, The 40 Year Old Virgin is a raunchy guy comedy with a sweet romantic center. Following a 40 year old electronics store worker named Andy as his friends try to help him lose his virginity. It earns its R rating with filthy jokes and constant profanity. Its material is the antithesis of what you expect from a romantic comedy but that’s exactly what’s beneath the surface of this sex comedy.
While this is most certainly not a chick-flick, the romance Andy develops with a single mom played by Catherine Keener is legitimately very sweet. Their relationship and Andy learning his first time should be with someone special are the gooey center of this otherwise dirty comedy. And if you don’t like that gooey romantic center that’s fine because scenes like Steve Carrell getting his chest waxed or failing to understand how to put on a condom provide incredible laughs.
Beyond Carrell and Keener, the supporting cast is all on point. Comedy mainstays like Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, and Elizabeth Banks are on top form and keep the laughs coming throughout. This is just an excellent comedy whether you care about the romantic stuff or not but that romance gives the film a ton of heart.
What could be more romantic than a zombie apocalypse? Okay, a lot of things but Zombieland offers a sweet romantic subplot in addition to its comedic zombie-killing action. Following a geeky college student surviving across post-apocalyptic America after a zombie outbreak. Meeting three strangers who join him, they become a found family to each other as they try to reach a zombie-free sanctuary.
It may be a comedy but it’s an excellent zombie movie in its own right. There are some great zombie kills here and the design of the infected is creepy enough that they still look like a threat despite the light-hearted tone. At its core, Zombieland is a film about four people learning to trust and work together in a ruined world so it lives and dies on the chemistry of the cast and the film absolutely soars.
Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson are a great double act of neurotic and cool but it’s Eisenberg’s chemistry with Emma Stone that provides the real heart of the film. The sparks between them fly through the screen and you want nothing more than for this nerdy zombie survivor to find the courage to ask her out.
6. Wedding Crashers
Much like The 40 Year Old Virgin, this film is a dude comedy with a rom-com in the center. Wedding Crashers follows the exploits of two friends played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson who crash weddings in order to score one-night stands. Their latest outing leads them to get invited to a weekend retreat at the family compound of the women they’re trying to seduce.
Wilson and Vaughn have such excellent, breezy comedic chemistry together and that partnership anchors the whole film. It’s enough to overcome the fact that the film actually follows the standard rom-com formula. While this starts off as a raunchy comedy to settle us in, from the first second Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams share the screen, this is very much a rom-com but it’s one with a lot more guy-oriented humor.
Supporting turns from Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour, Isla Fisher, and Will Ferrell are suitably hilarious and keep everything moving at a great pace. There are few lulls in the laughs here. Most important, Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams have the kind of chemistry that made the rom-com such a Hollywood staple to begin with.
5. Baby Driver
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a frantic blast of musical energy. It isn’t a musical but it almost is as the licensed soundtrack permeates through every major sequence. Much of the blocking is set to the beat of each song. It’s an exhilarating action heist film and a ridiculous fun look at how music shapes our lives. Following a reluctant getaway driver named Baby who tries to escape his life of crime after falling in love with a waitress, the film’s basic premise is a simple but effective one.
What elevates this one is the music. Baby uses music to interact with the world. He has an iPod for every mood, each one filled with different songs. He uses music to get in the zone to perform his driving duties. There are very few times when he doesn’t have his earbuds in. It’s their musical appreciation of music that connects Baby and his love interest Debora. The romantic elements of Baby Driver are as much about the love of music as they are about the love between Baby and Debora. So even if you don’t care for the romance between the two, there’s something to relate to because who doesn’t love music?
Beyond that, this is just an incredibly well-made action film. The car chases are among the best of this generation, maybe ever. The climax, perfectly synched to the song “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, is a rip-roaring good time that movies like this are all about. Baby Driver will leave you pleased no matter what kind of movie you’re into.
4. La La Land
Nothing hits the feel-good spot quite like a good musical and La La Land is an excellent musical. Following the romance of Sebastian and Mia as they try to achieve their dreams in Los Angeles this is a great film to watch on Valentine’s Day if you hate rom-coms because of the more realistic take it has on love. Rom-coms are often a fantasy of perfect meet-cutes, unrealistic ideals, and fantastical grand gestures. La La Land despite having characters break into song and dance offers a far more realistic depiction of romance.
Sebastian and Mia don’t have a perfect romance, no matter how much Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s chemistry makes us want to believe they do. They’re both occupied with their career dreams as much if not more than each other and that gets in the way of their relationship. Rom-coms often have characters having it all by the end but La La Land takes the position that sometimes you can have love or you can have your dream but you can’t always have both.
Titanic is a perfect example of what’s known as a four-quadrant movie. What that means is that it satisfies all four types of movie audiences, males under 25, males over 25, females under 25, and females over 25. There’s a reason it was the highest-grossing movie of all time before James Cameron broke his own record. While the central plot is the romance between Jack and Rose, Titanic really does have something for everyone. It’s a historical epic, it’s a love story, it’s a disaster film. It has grand costumes, dastardly villains, romance, and action spectacle.
The love story is sappy and cliché but it works thanks to the performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and the chemistry they share. Billy Zane plays an excellently unlikable human which only works to make us for Jack and Rose even more. If you don’t like that kind of thing that’s fine because Titanic is also an excellent disaster movie. It sets up all the characters on the ship and then once it hits the iceberg is an onslaught of spectacle. As it sinks and the characters try to escape as it fills up with water, the tension is high and the practical stunt work shines through.
Whether you care for the sappy romance or not, it’s hard not to find something to like about Titanic. It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day movie precisely because it’s perfect both for those who like romantic movies and those who don’t.
2. The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is a fairytale. It’s a whimsical and swashbuckling adventure as Inigo Montoya tries to avenge his father and Westley tries to rescue the love of his life Princess Buttercup. There’s very little to dislike here as it’s such a joy in all areas. The cast is all great, the characters fun, the fantasy locations are fantastical and the comedy hits just right. Whatever you’re looking for in a movie is here. Don’t care for the romance, there’s the swashbuckling. Don’t care for fantasy, there’s comedy. Don’t care for action, there’s romance.
Westley and Buttercup’s fairytale romance is sweet and should win over even the most heartless of viewers but even if it never does, Westley’s swashbuckling attempts to rescue her will be enough to keep the most romance-adverse people entertained. The whole film is framed as a grandfather reading a bedtime story to his grandson and that framing is the perfect metaphor for the film itself. At first, the grandson is skeptical he will like it based on its premise as a love story but by the end, he wants to read it again and again.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
As close to perfect as a movie can get, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind starts out almost as an anti-romance movie before revealing it has something a lot more meaningful to say about love. The film stars Jim Carrey in the best performance of his career as Joel Barrish, a man who decides to undergo a procedure to erasure every memory of his ex-girlfriend Clementine played by Kate Winslet, after learning she did the same to him. What follows is a non-chronological look at their relationship as Joel goes from memory to memory and desperately tries to find a way to save at least one.
Carrey and Winslet are marvelous together. They really sell every single moment of this relationship as a thing of ordinary beauty, warts and all. Whether it’s a mundane dinner date, a tender moment of affection, or a rageful fight, the film is a heartfelt, funny, and sad look at how our relationships and memories shape us.
It is the antithesis of the rom-com. There are no grand gestures or unrealistic romantic expectations, just two flawed people who fall in love and then fall out of it. Joel’s journey through his mind leads him to realize that he wants to keep his memories of Clementine because even the worst memories of love are worth having.