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 Is It: Two centuries after Dr. Frankenstein created Adam, the monster gets caught in the middle of a war between ill-tempered gargoyles and demons. Explosions, sword fights, and heavy brooding ensue.
How It Shapes the Date: Not to be confused with Daniel Radcliffe’s upcoming Frankenstein flick, this movie makes an attempt at “epic action blockbuster” status by going light on the romance and heavy on the well-that-was-obviously-CGI violence. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is when you mix in a nonsensical plot and wooden performances. The movie has its fair share of eye candy – Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney – but it ends up playing second fiddle to everything else, which is, at best, both pedantic and clichéd. Don’t let the reliable romcom staple Bill Nighy – who plays the leader of the demons, Prince Naberius – fool you into thinking I, Frankenstein is some charming British countryside romp. It’s not. This is a bland movie, far from the warm embraces of Love, Actually – and one that may bore you and your date to the point of turning if off and searching for something better to do.
Make It: A second date if you’re both into the movie Underworld and can’t find another film to watch.
What Is It: A mop-topped Vanessa Hudgens plays a pregnant 16-year-old with an abusive, drug-addicted mother. After running away from home, she stays with her estranged father, only to flee after a disagreement over what to do with the baby.
How It Shapes the Date: A rare dramatic turn for Hudgens, this heart-wrenching film about not giving up (mostly) avoids the usual troubled teen movie clichés and instead goes for something more human. That sounds like it could work as a date movie but it’s probably not the best choice if you’re looking for a nice two-hour entertainment break to share with your partner. This movie explores the darker side of drug addiction and abandonment, as Hudgens’ character is forced to deal with the type of pain most of us won’t experience in a lifetime. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to call Gimme Shelter anti-abortion, its faith-based message is readily apparent, and may turn off those looking for a film that’s less emotionally and moralistically heavy. However, if the tough exterior and sappy Lifetime-esque filling doesn’t scare you away, it’s worth giving it a shot.
Make It: A fourth date, if you’re prepared to have a serious post-screening discussion about teen pregnancy.
What Is It: Gloria, a 58-year-old woman who has been divorced for more than a decade, looks to kick things up a bit by exploring the singles scene and jumpstarting her sex life. Even when life gets complicated, she still stays true to who she is and what she’s looking for.
How It Shapes the Date: The story may be about a middle-aged divorcée, but Gloria is a movie we can all connect with, even those of us who are a few decades away from turning 58. The film is an endearing account of what happens to those looking to keep things fresh and fun after they get divorced and their children go off on their own. It isn’t about losing love; it’s about finding it, in other people and yourself. We all get a little lonely sometimes, but Paulina Garcia’s performance as the titular character shows that good things happen to those who go out and search for it. In Gloria’s case, that means boogieing down on the dance floor and flirting with strangers. The film’s sex scenes may not be filled with the type of sculpted Hollywood bodies audiences have come to expect from romantic flicks, but if you have a heart, it won’t matter. Gloria is a happy, emotional exploration of middle age, and one that you and your date will ultimately smile at.
Make It: A third date.
Knights of Badassdom
What Is It: A group of friends who participate in live action role playing (better known as LARPing) suddenly have their skills put to the test when they accidentally summon a demon.
How It Shapes the Date: This film has been stuck in post-production hell for years, and the final product supposedly isn’t the one director Joe Lynch originally set out to make. Instead, it’s been hollowed out, with producers turning a sharp/smart comedy into a one-dimensional account of an activity many people hold near and dear to their hearts. The most egregious part: the geek stereotyping and the been-there-done-that nerd jokes are more likely to induce eye rolls than laughs. But it’s not all bad news: Knights of Badassdom still has a few funny moments up its sleeve, not to mention an excellent geek-approved cast (including Game of Thrones mainstay Peter Dinklage, True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten, and perennial Steve Zahn). Therefore, if you’re looking for a few cheap afternoon laughs, it’s worth checking out.
Make It: A second date.