Date Ideas

What to See on Your Christmas Movie Date

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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:

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

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What It Is: The Channel 4 news team returns for another round of non sequitur nonsense, this time following Ron Burgundy to the emerging world of 24 hour news networks.

Anchorman 2 is PG-13, the humor relying on bizarre character antics and avoiding gross-out territory. Despite it’s oddities, the movie really has something for everyone — even a little romance.

How It Shapes the Date:
Even if you’re a huge fan of the original Anchorman, a movie that flopped in its theatrical run only to achieve cult status on DVD, you may not be hankering for a sequel, or even aware that one is currently playing in theaters. But Anchorman 2, a movie that finds a way for star Will Ferrell to eat a fried bat, try his hand at “jive,” announce the world’s first televised car chase, and sing a love song to a shark, is an unexpected riot, making good on every implicit promise that comes with sequelizing the quotable original. Anchorman 2 is PG-13, the humor relying on bizarre character antics and avoiding gross-out territory. Despite it’s oddities, the movie really has something for everyone — even a little romance. This time, sub-human Brick (Steve Carrell) falls for an equally lost in space lady (Kristin Wiig). Anchorman 2 isn’t a “safe” comedy that panders to the lowest common denominator, but it is a safe bet for a date movie, guaranteed laughs for whomever tags along.

Make It: A second date, just to vet any prospective date that is completely void of a sense of humor and will spend the post-date hours telling you how dumb the movie is (it isn’t!).

The Wolf of Wall Street

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

What It Is: Based on a true story, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest team-up explores the debauched lifestyle of Wall Street maven Jordan Belfort, who spent the ’90s snorting coke, popping quaaludes, sleeping around, and spending millions on any plausible extravagance.

Enjoying this movie — a kaleidoscopic nightmare of drug use and nudity — could rub your date the wrong way if they read it as an exercise in being awful for awful’s sake.

How It Shapes the Date:
The Wolf of Wall Street is a cautionary tale, but a funny one. DiCaprio gives the performance of his career, going completely off the deep-end in a way that feels emblematic of the entire early ’90s power broker era. It’s brimming with vices, Jonah Hill joining in on the antics as Belfort’s second-in-command party addict. The movie is a relentless takedown; at nearly three hours, it’s designed to exhaust. That doesn’t necessarily translate to great date material. Wolf of Wall Street is already seeing backlash from people who feel it glamorizes Belfort’s licentious behavior rather than condemns it. Enjoying this movie — a kaleidoscopic nightmare of drug use and nudity — could rub your date the wrong way if they read it as an exercise in being awful for awful’s sake. If you’re significant other is a budding financier… abort.

Make It: A fifth date. By that time, you know if your date is going to walk out of Wolf of Wall Street appreciating the nuance of DiCaprio’s work or feeling envious for having never attended parties that crazy.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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What It Is: James Thurber’s extremely short story is stretched to feature length, with Ben Stiller playing the titular daydreamer in need of a reality check.

Unless the holiday season is truly kicking your butts, Secret Life of Walter Mitty will lull you and your date to sleep.

How It Shapes the Date:
Stiller, who both stars and directs this imaginative blockbuster, wants Walter Mitty to inspire you by any means possible. The ambition leaves his feeling more like a vacation advertisement than anything resembling poignant drama. When Mitty envisions himself as an adventurer, a superhero, a historic figure who has done something with his life, Stiller’s movie is universally reflective. When Mitty eventually goes off to skateboard through Iceland or mountain climb in Afghanistan, Stiller setting to the empowerment classics of Arcade Fire and Of Monsters and Men, it’s all a bit hokey and monotonous. Unless the holiday season is truly kicking your butts, Secret Life of Walter Mitty will lull you and your date to sleep.

Make It: A third date, just as a moral boost for someone who is truly down in the dumps. The movie should have the same effect as one of those “10 Pictures That Will Make You Smile” lists.

August: Osage County

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What It Is: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and an ensemble of Hollywood’s best actors bring the Pulitzer Prize winning play of familial squabbling to life.

August: Osage County isn’t a comedy. It’s a downer on top of a downer, and the movie version can’t transcend the drama to feel like more than a barrage of sadness.

How It Shapes the Date:
Having not seen writer Tracey Letts’ original Broadway hit may lead to assumptions that August: Osage County is a zany comedy about mothers and daughters and son-in-laws and aunts and uncles who can’t get along and have a craaaaazy time one weekend. The poster has a laughable moment spread across it: The entire family wrestling on the floor — what fun! But August: Osage County isn’t a comedy. It’s a harrowing tale of depression, cancer, drug addiction, crumbling marriages, unrequited love, regretful pasts, and suicide. It’s a downer on top of a downer, and the movie version can’t transcend the drama to feel like more than a barrage of sadness. There are sporadic moments of gut-wrenching acting in August, but they’re suffocated by anxiety-inducing screaming matches. Who doesn’t get enough of this at home during the holiday season? Maybe another time of year would enliven August: Osage County, but surrounding Christmas, context kills it. A holiday date deserves levity.

Make It: The date after the holidays have subsided. Tuck it away until January.

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.

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