The term “date movie” pinged off my forehead recently…it may have been in a review of It’s Complicated. It got me thinking about what the heck, exactly, is a date movie.
I believe the other term of choice is “Chick Flick”. Or, as my husband would say, “That looks like something you can go see with your women’s movie group”.
So the first tenet of a date movie: the man on the date would rather be in the next theatre watching Avatar.
Then why would a man subject himself to testicle-shrinking tortures of the Popular Romantic Comedy genre? To movies which must, according to law, include at least one scene of the cast gleefully singing or dancing to a pop song? To Hugh Grant? To male characters spouting effusive declarations of love in Unlikely Places with people watching who all clap afterward, perhaps a cue that we should applaud as well? Does he really think that enduring this will help him get laid after the movie?
Does it ever work?
I once went to see Last of the Mohicans with a boyfriend. Daniel Day Lewis is pretty hot in that movie; you’d think it would be an inspirational film in the Chick Flick as Soft-Core Porn for Women kinda way. But when I looked at my boyfriend afterward, my thought was: Damn. You’d never save me from a Huron war party.
I’ve only been on two date-movie-dates in my life, where the movie was a First Date, rather than just a fun thing to do with someone I was already dating.
I cringe to think of both of those dates.
The first was to see Alladin (my choice; I forget exactly why I wanted to see it but I did. I’ve always been a sucker for animation, what can I tell you). Before the date we went out for pizza. My date was belligerently rude to the waitress for no reason that I could see, other than that he thought this proved his suitability for mating according to some manliness=assholeness equation. By the time we reached the theatre I knew that a second date was not gonna happen.
Halfway through the movie, he abruptly took my hand and said “May I hold your hand?”
My other date-movie-date was with a man who, on the phone arranging our date, asked if he should pick me up in the Mercedes or the Range Rover. Gosh, I don’t know, which one do you think will be more reliable to get us all the way to the theater 3 miles away?
We saw Forrest Gump, a decent movie, although I never found it as brilliant as others did. At every poignant moment, my date uttered a little “Ooooh” moan of sympathy. Wow, sensitive and a Mercedes!
There wasn’t much chemistry, so we didn’t last past a second or third date. Just as well…he had basset hounds.
Last night Barry and I went to see Up in the Air. We’re about to hit the 10-year-mark as a couple, so we dispensed with all that holding of hands and muttering of sympathetic noises. The film has some elements of Date Movieness: Flirting. A wedding. A woman wearing nothing but a necktie. George Clooney.
Although I didn’t expect a date movie, it starts veering into that territory about 2/3 of the way in. You see George on the verge of Being Transformed by the Love of a Woman: one of the other tenets of Date Movies. There’s an epiphany, a shocked crowd as the Transformed Man goes running off to find the arms of the Woman of his Dreams. Transformation Happens, but not according to the well-worn grooves of Date Moviedom, a plot turn that violates the Laws of the Chick Flick.
Up in the Air met my criteria for a good date movie, though: we talked about it afterward. Was it a good ending or weak? What was he thinking when he stared at the Departures/Arrivals board? At the map full of photos before the wedding? Where was he going at the end? Were the shots of angry people about to be laid off a plot device, a nod towards relevancy, or central to the theme? How enjoyable can a movie be if the main characters are unlikable? Would you ever really meet a woman like that in real life?
Maybe a true Date Movie is to get a woman in an, umm, romantic mood, to equate the handsome and affectionate man on the screen with the mundane and hopeful man in the next seat at the theatre. A good Old Married Couple Date Movie opens a new conversation, something that can be rare when you see each other day after day…
Oops, I lost my train of thought. Barry came in to ask me: do you think he was lying to his boss at the end of the movie?