Date Ideas

Would You Date a Short Guy If He Slayed Dragons for a Living?: 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:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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What It Is: The middle installment of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy ups the action and skimps on the goofy dwarven antics. “Now with more dragon!” should have been a tagline. Because it has a dragon in it.

It’s packed wall-to-wall with the fantasy equivalent of summer movie explosions. That can be exhausting, and there’s a definite risk that, like the movie, a date could fizzle out under the weight of the movie.

How It Shapes the Date:
Desolation of Smaug clocks in at two hours and 41 minutes — that’s an entire night’s worth of entertainment. And it’s relentless in its attempts to deliver high-octane action; Whereas the Lord of the Rings movies found crossover appeal through high drama and sweeping scenery, Hobbit is all about chase scenes, sword fights, and beastly encounters. It’s packed wall-to-wall with the fantasy equivalent of summer movie explosions. That can be exhausting, and there’s a definite risk that, like the movie, a date could fizzle out under the weight of the movie. The saving grace for Desolation of Smaug is a whiff of romance. Evangeline Lilly plays Tauriel, a new elf character who falls for Kili, the resident hot dwarf. Though their sweet moments are overwhelmed by the non-stop clobbering, the blossoming relationship should inspire courageous couples to pull out their Halloween costumes and “play dress up.”

Make It: A second date, but walk out before the movie ends to cap it with a cliffhanger.

American Hustle

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What It Is: Between 1978 and 1980, the F.B.I.’s “Abscam” recruited an ex-con artist to orchestrate sting operations that led to the arrest of six Congressman and the mayor of Camden, N.J. In 2013, David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) turned it into a madcap comedy starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner.

The entire ensemble goes off the rails as they cobble together schemes of entrapment, while entangling in each other’s martial affairs. It’s hook-ups on top of hook-ups.

How It Shapes the Date:
American Hustle forsakes a coherent history lesson in favor of oddball antics. It’s a movie obsessed with the ’70s vibe’s transformative properties. Flashy clothing, wild hair-dos, and struts set to the tempo of disco — the crimes at the heart of American Hustle run much deeper than political bribery, and that’s the fun of it. The entire ensemble goes off the rails as they cobble together schemes of entrapment, while entangling in each other’s martial affairs. It’s hook-ups on top of hook-ups, and it’ll only screw with your night out if you’re afraid your date isn’t telling you about a secret husband/wife she/he has on the side. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Make It: A first date paired with a disco dancing.

Saving Mr. Banks

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What It Is: Sometimes, it was hard for Walt Disney to make the movies he wanted to make. OK, only one time — Mary Poppins. Disney self-mythologizes the making of its popular musical, with Tom Hanks as the head honcho and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers, an author clinging to her source material.

Unless you subscribe to the Church of Disney, this simplistic drama might whisk you away to a dream world. Not Disneyland — the place you go when you’re asleep.

How It Shapes the Date:
If your date is someone whose Disney fanaticism survived past the age of 12, Saving Mr. Banks is required viewing. It’s Mouse House self-mythologizing that suggests that all the bad in the world can be solved with a toe-tapping song and a Mickey-shaped cupcake. Great performances and the classic Mary Poppins music go a long way in making the masturbatory exercise tolerable (a rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak of The Office is a highlight), but unless you subscribe to the Church of Disney, this simplistic drama might whisk you away to a dream world. Not Disneyland — the place you go when you’re asleep.

Make It: A fourth date, after you’ve discovered your date’s mildly disturbing devotion to all things Disney and decided it’s worth manageable.

Some Velvet Morning

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What It Is: Playwright Neil Labute adapts his theater skills for the big screen in a drama that’s sure to make a few toes curl. Alice Eve and Stanley Tucci play a pair with a mysterious relationship that unravels naturally and painfully.

Some Velvet Morning dredges up the past and drowns its victims. A chilling film that’s totally inappropriate for date night.

How It Shapes the Date:
Some Velvet Morning is a “must watch solo” movie. Designed as a fast and loose conversation between a romantically complicated pair, every word Labute feeds his characters serves to undercut and chill. The clues are held close to the chest as the two whittle away at one another; They had a relationship of sorts, but it was messy, destructive, delusional, and its ripple effect continues to stir nightmares in Eve’s Velvet. But neither can walk away from their most recent encounter, grappling like sadomasochistic lovers. Like the worst encounters with exes, Some Velvet Morning dredges up the past and drowns its victims. A chilling film that’s totally inappropriate for date night.

Make It: A movie you watch when you’re adamantly off the dating grid.

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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