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:
What It Is: Divorcee Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) finds herself caught between a potential love interest (James Gandolfini) and a new friend (Catherine Keener), who also happens to be his ex-wife. Questions of whether finding love later in life is really worth the effort.
How It Shapes the Date: The latest from writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give, Walking and Talking) is one of the most deeply romantic films in recent memory. Having protagonists in their 50s doesn’t change the hardships and pleasures of dating. Having seen a marriage come and go and put her focus squarely on raising a daughter, Eva is basically a first-time dater all over again. The first date chit chat, those early glimpses of a boy/girlfriend’s way of life, the introduction of a new significant other to the close friends, the exhilaration of losing a day in bed with another — Enough Said gets it all right. Eva’s relationship becomes problematic and messy, but whose doesn’t it? With wry humor and relatable performances, Enough Said sets an optimistic tone for a budding relationship.
Make It: A first date.
What It Is: Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this twisty, turny mystery thriller that sends duo spiraling out of control as they hunt for a pair of abducted girls.
How It Shapes the Date: Prisoners has a lot of meat on its bones, for better or worse. The movie runs two and half hours and it spends that time wrenching your gut. Gyllenhaal plays the cop searching for answers, a dizzying plot that often goes nowhere. Jackman plays the dad of one of the girls, so desperate to find the culprit, he kidnaps the prime suspect and tortures him for an entire week. Prisoners provides plenty of post-screening discussion for those who aren’t exhausted by its exploration of tragedy. This is a portrait of people at their lowest points layered on top of an episode of Murder, She Wrote and won’t sit well with anyone looking for a breezy “night at the movies.”
Make It: A fourth date, when you’re not seeing a film as an excuse to meet up, but you’re going to see a film.
What It Is: A New York City indie about a couple whose smoke-filled lifestyle threatens to break them up.
How It Shapes the Date: Let’s face a fact: Smoking habits can be a dealbreaker. Or they can bring people together. In Newlyweeds, we see two people whose love for ganja functions as the foundation of their relationship and it mostly works. They wax poetic through clouds of haze, intertwined on a mattress in the center of their bare apartment. Turns out, if all you have is love and weed, that’s OK. It’s only when they light up at the wrong moment — when leading a group of 5th graders on a tour of a science museum, for instance — when the lifestyle goes up in smoke and mistakes are made. Newlyweeds is a cautionary tale that still makes a nice date movie for those who find themselves in a similar position. A couple that smokes together can stay together if they don’t inhale every time.
Make It: A third date.
The Wizard of OZ in 3D IMAX
What It Is: You’ve never seen The Wizard of OZ!?
How It Shapes the Date: The glistening Technicolor of this classic 1939 fantasy film gets an upgrade to the biggest format in existence — prime for either an introductory viewing or a revisit. Wizard of OZ doesn’t even need a romantic angle to give you warm and fuzzy feelings. Grandeur is enough. The technological upgrade of 3D and IMAX make it every bit as “modern” as contemporary blockbusters while the aura of early 20th century filmmaking is transportive. Blame it on endless Pinterest boards of flapper fashion, but old school is in. Wizard of OZ pairs nicely with late night drinks at a cocktail bar.
Make It: A second date (unless your date hasn’t seen Wizard of OZ before, which raises this to emergency status).
Matt Patches is a writer and reporter living in New York City. His work has been featured on New York Magazine’s Vulture, Film.com, Hollywood.com, MTV, and he is the host of the pop culture podcast Operation Kino. He continues to love Groundhog Day.