Date Ideas

This Week in Date Movies: ‘Hercules’ Delivers the Beefcake Goods and ‘Her’ Is Romance You Won’t Forget

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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:

HER

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What It Is: Spike Jonze’s glimpse into the near future follow Joaquin Phoenix has a recently-divorced, professional love letter writer who falls in love with an artificially intelligent operation system called “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson). We’ve all been there!

HER makes for a great date movie, a touching reminder of the value of human connection that emphasizes how true romance can be right in front of us.

How It Shapes the Date:
Superficially, HER is a movie about dating a computer and how that’s not quite absurd in 2014. But underneath its sci-fi skin, Jonze’s film is about finding comfort in another, pining for perfection, and how taking the easy road can often blow up in our faces. Despite appearing only as a disembodied voice, Johansson is every bit as tender, compassionate, sexually-charged, and cheeky as we’ve ever seen (or not seen) her. Phoenix is wholly relatable — if you’ve ever been in a relationship, failed or successful, you’ve been this guy. HER makes for a great date movie, a touching reminder of the value of human connection that emphasizes how true romance can be right in front of us. Or in the case of your date, in the seat next to you.

Make It: A third date.

Lone Survivor

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What It Is: Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg tells the true story of four Navy SEALs who wind up in the cross hairs of a Taliban battalion after a botched sniper mission. Yes, the title is a spoiler, but it’s all about the journey.

Lone Survivor will hit hard. For many it will be too gory and unenjoyable, for others, too disturbing emotionally.

How It Shapes the Date:
Lone Survivor often feels more like a military recruitment video than a  recreation of a harrowing event. It’s a bloodbath, never holding back on the gruesome details (a maelstrom of bullets, rockets, and tripping down rocky slopes) of the encounter. But it quickly transforms its characters from regular joes to Schwarzenegger-esque heroes. These are guys with girlfriends and wives back home, praying to make it out alive. That’s gut-wrenching — until Berg sends it way over the top. For anyone who has served in the military or watched as a loved one was shipped off into combat,  Lone Survivor will hit hard. For many it will be too gory and unenjoyable, for others, too disturbing emotionally. But for daters with a military background, it’s a must-see and a must-discuss.

Make It: A fourth date, but know your date’s tolerance for violence!

The Truth About Emanuel

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What It Is: Jessica Biel’s single mom character Linda has a horrible secret. When her next door neighbor Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario) stumbles upon that twisted bit of truth, their friendship and Linda’s squeaky clean persona implode. The secret is a spoiler, but I can say with authority that it’s crazy.

The Truth About Emanuel‘s teenage perspective and psychological positing should make for a nice evening. And then the TWIST. Oh, the twist.

How It Shapes the Date:
The Truth About Emanuel has a lot to say about grief and dealing with it at all stages of life. It dabbles in magical realism, it’s comfortable forgoing traditional pacing, and it completely subverts everything we know about “Jessica Biel movies.” But as date movie fodder, it’s iffy. A film that deals so heavily with maternity may turn off particular couples nearing the age where “when are you having children?” is a recurring question. Even if it’s not a subject of discussion, kid-talk can be a quick mood killer. But for those far-removed from that scenario, The Truth About Emanuel‘s teenage perspective and psychological positing should make for a nice evening. And then the twist. Oh, the twist.

Make It: A second date; Not too soon, not too late.

The Legend of Hercules

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What It Is: Beefcake Kellan Lutz fights other beefcakes and then more beefcakes show up and they make a beefcake.

The movie is no 300 but it’s hard to deny Lutz’s… tonality.

How It Shapes the Date:
Legend of Hercules is dumb as bricks and mostly miserable experience. Frankly, it’s not erotic enough! If you’re going to make a movie that’s basically an adaptation of a Fabio romance novel cover, crank up the steam. Lutz has a blonde bombshell he fights in the name of, but their entire relationship is built upon rolling in the grass. Hercules will bore straight couples to tears, but there might be hope for anyone who wants to ogle scantily clad Greek soldiers (which is perfectly acceptable). The movie is no 300 but it’s hard to deny Lutz’s… tonality.

Make It: A first date.

Matt Patches is a writer and reporter living in New York City. His work has been featured on Vulture, Grantland, and The Hollywood Reporter. He is the host of the pop culture podcast Fighting in the War Room.