The dawn of February brings a certain distinctive air–aisles upon aisles are filled with teddy bears possessively hugging hearts, heart-shaped boxes are filled with (cheap) chocolates and discounted romantic movies are on unapologetic display in the film section. Everything is pink, red, heart-shaped and fluffy. Truly, this “holiday” is an assault on one’s senses. Overly commercialized love is in the air. Many people are filled with those mushy feelings and anticipating the PERFECT date night, which is often the stereotypical dinner and a movie. Luckily, for all of those romantics out there, Hollywood is very much in-tune with Valentine’s Day. It is constantly regurgitating the same sappy, star-crossed lovers plot and merely repackaging these very predictable movies with different titles, actors, accents and/or time periods.
For those who aren’t buying into the lovey-dovey scene this year, single or otherwise, Valentine’s Day is the most sickening time of year. Thankfully, there are just enough films out in the world devoid of lingering, forlorn stares, awkwardly overindulgent kisses and physically defying acrobatic sex scenes to get one’s mind off of love and romantic relationships. Here are five films to help get you started on blocking out the rosy, celluloid glare engulfing the month of love.
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Who says you need a sexy date to enjoy a romantic dinner? After all, you could just end up as the main course yourself. And who says you have to be wearing the latest fashion to attract someone…for all you know, you could be the next trend in the fashion world. “Silence of the Lambs” will certainly curb many of your hopes for the perfect blind date, and quite possibly your appetite, too. This film is chilling, full of suspense and brilliant performances. Jodie Foster plays FBI cadet Clarice Starling who is drawn into the intricate mind of a serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. She must enlist his help in the hopes of catching another serial killer, Buffalo Bill. Sir Anthony Hopkins serves up a frighteningly beautiful performance as the cannibal, and Ted Levine slices up a character that is equal parts creepy and fascinating. Various twists and turns take place as the mad manhunt sweeps the viewer along for a half-crazed adventure.
Let’s talk about an independent woman, who doesn’t need a man to save her or her country. “Mulan” is a must for any “Galentine’s Day” at-home movie marathon. Girl power is at its finest in this film; Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen) proves she won’t get distracted by the oft-shirtless Shang (BD Wong) while she saves the entire empire of China from the villainous Huns. Mulan is certainly not perfect, but she doesn’t let her “inability” to fit the mold of a traditional woman get in the way of her being herself. “Mulan” also carries a tremendous amount of humor and heart. Eddie Murphy provides many of the laughs for this film as the lovable, hapless guardian-dragon Mushu.
“Rain Man” (1988)
Forget that mushy, lovey-dovey relationship filled with romance and kissing and sex. If you want feels void of such gushy-ness tune in to “Rain Man,” a touching sibling relationship story full of laughter mixed with a bit of frustration and heartbreak. “Rain Man” is a classic, rightfully so, that showcases the importance of family and connection. Tom Cruise is, as they said back in 1980s America, a yuppie named Charlie Babbitt, who, after the death of his father, learns of the existence of his older brother, Raymond, a high-functioning autistic savant (Dustin Hoffman is brilliant in this Oscar winning role). What ensues is a heartwarming cross-country road trip where the two men become more than just brothers in name, but in heart.
If you thought your ex was a psycho, just think about John Doe (Kevin Spacey) and his murderous ode to the “seven deadly sins” trope for a moment (then you can go back to thinking such things about your ex if you must). Though there is a classic rookie cop teams with veteran cop storyline (Brad Pitt is the hunky rookie, and Morgan Freeman is the wise veteran), the working relationship feels very genuine between the two of them. Also, it doesn’t hurt to give Pitt’s character some very snarky quips. A tumultuous ride from start to finish, this film simultaneously freaks you out and intrigues you, keeping you on the edge of your seat and making you wonder what’s next. Also, props to screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker’s writing and David Fincher’s directing for creative, if a bit grotesque, representation of the seven deadly sins.
“The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)
Sometimes you just need a laugh in order to forget the world’s judgment on your singleness or non-commercialized “traditional” romance. Reliving your childhood is one way to distract you from those complicated “adult” relationships, and “The Emperor’s New Groove” gives you such a nostalgic flashback. Of course, the older you get, the funnier this movie becomes as you realize the many veiled adult jokes hidden within it (such as the drag scene and when Yzma lifts her skirt, among others). The film’s family friendly jokes are quite humorous as well. David Spade (Emperor Kuzco), John Goodman (Pacha), Patrick Warburton (Kronk), Eartha Kitt (Yzma), Wendy Malick (Chicha, Pacha’s Wife) and Tom Jones (Theme Song Guy) round out this hilarious voice cast.
Claire Farrow can be reached at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org.