Date Ideas

Let Matthew McConaughey Make You Cry: This Week in Date Movies

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Picking a “date movie” isn’t as easy as scrolling through listings and finding something that suits your fancy. Don’t forget the “date” half. When the credits roll and conversation picks back up, the film is still front and center. Here’s how this weekend’s movies will twist your night, for better or worse:

Ender’s Game

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What It Is: An adaptation of the acclaimed young adult sci-fi book finally makes it to screen. For those unfamiliar, picture Harry Potter in space.

As a date movie, it might play a little mundane, lacking the awe-inspiring imagery of Gravity or the whimsy of the Potter series. But it should be satisfying to fans and rousing enough for newcomers.

How It Shapes the Date:
The trailers for this week’s biggest release made Ender’s Game look like another generic sci-fi movie. It could have been; there are spaceships, kids in battle suits, alien invaders, and tons of sci-fi nerdery. But for the same reasons kids in the ’80s and ’90s fell in love with the book in the first place, Ender’s packs a lot of heart and lot of dystopian philosophy. As a date movie, it might play a little mundane, lacking the awe-inspiring imagery of Gravity or the whimsy of the Potter series. But it should be satisfying to fans and rousing enough for newcomers. A safe choice that introduces provocative material worthy of post-bar discussion without challenging anyone to expose feelings (when things can get serious). A safe and acceptable blockbuster.

Make It: A first date. (Unless you’re gay, then boycott.)

Dallas Buyers Club

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What It Is: The true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a Texan cowboy who contracted HIV in the late ’80s and turned his recovery into a lucrative business. Woodroof kicked his “one month to live” to the curb, taking to Mexico to experiment with non-FDA-approved drugs. When it kept on his feet, he peddled the drugs to American AIDS patients in need of a solution.

If you have another’s hand to hold during Dallas Buyers Club, you’ll be squeezing it whenever you aren’t wiping away the waterworks.

How It Shapes the Date:
Ladies and gentlemen, start your tear engines. Dallas Buyers Club rolls out like the kind of long form feature story you might read in The New Yorker — informative, entertaining, and human. It’s not a movie with a strong romantic plot — though they try to force that in with Jennifer Garner’s bland doctor character — but it’s one bursting with compassion.  McConaughey’s homophobic Ron is forced to team up with transgender Rayon (Jared Leto) and their relationship, spurring a transformation within Ron, is a thing of beauty. It’s a movie that reminds us how important it is to have connections and support. If you have another’s hand to hold during Dallas Buyers Club, you’ll be squeezing it whenever you aren’t wiping away the waterworks.

Make It: A second date.

Last Vegas

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What It Is: Four old dudes (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline) hit Vegas for a bachelor party weekend. Debauchery and introspection abound.

The underlying message of Last Vegas: There’s no point in fishing for the hot young somethings to distract us from aging. Find love where it is.

How It Shapes the Date:
The go-to descriptor for Last Vegas is “The Hangover meets The Bucket List” which is likely how the movie was pitched in the first place. You know what you get when you sign up. It’s sappy, it’s wily, and Mary Steenburgen from Back to the Future III spices up the whole affair, wooing both Douglas and De Niro. If you’re into your 40s and still on the dating this scene, the movie is perfect. If you’re below that median and dating an older man/woman, avoid. The underlying message of Last Vegas is There’s no point in fishing for the hot young somethings to distract us from aging. Find love where it is.

Make It: A third date for that specific tier.

Free Birds

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What It Is: This Thankgiving-themed animated comedy sees two turkeys travel back in time to prevent their species from being the Pilgrim’s meal of choice.

Never brush off an animated film! But do brush off Free Birds, a movie designed to teach hyperactive children misinformation on history and racial politics.

How It Shapes the Date:
Let’s take this moment to say that just because a movie is cartoon, doesn’t mean it’s for kids. People could fall in love after viewing Wall-E together. Anyone with a heart would tear up during The Iron Giant. Aladdin is a damn fine musical. So never brush off an animated film! But do brush off Free Birds, a movie designed to teach hyperactive children misinformation on history and racial politics. That said, there’s a scenario I can imagine for making Free Birds a dating win: Bring an adorable kid, a cousin or a niece/nephew, and show off your child-entertaining skills. That will hit your date’s heart.

Make It: A fifth date, when you can gamble on the “Oh, I have to take care of my ____’s kid tonight” move.

Matt Patches is a writer and reporter living in New York City. His work has been featured on Vulture, Time Out New York, and The Hollywood Reporter. He is the host of the pop culture podcast Operation Kino.

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