Valentine's Day: Movies for Six Different Romantic Moods
Your mood: Truly, un-ironically feeling hopeful about finding that special someone
Your movie: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
“That’s your problem,” bellows Rosie O’Donnell to Meg Ryan. “You don’t want to be in love...you want to be in love in a movie!” Yes, please. And this movie, preferably. Nora Ephron’s witty ode to soulmate searching features all the chick flick hallmarks, from an irresistible premise (Ryan’s Baltimore journalist connects with Tom Hanks’ Seattle-based widow after hearing him wax on the radio) to an unabashedly schmaltzy climax atop the Empire State Building — and on Valentine's Day, no less. Hanks’ real-life wife Rita Wilson also pops up to deliver a hilariously weepy monologue about her favorite romantic movie, An Affair to Remember. Twenty years later, honestly, who wouldn’t do the same for this classic?
Alternates: Notting Hill, Hitch, Pretty Woman, 50 First Dates, You’ve Got Mail, Bridget Jones' Diary
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection
Your mood: Desperate for a hearty, escapist laugh
Your movie: There’s Something About Mary (1998)
Need a comic tonic? When in doubt, reach for the scene in which a game Cameron Diaz uses extra-sticky hair gel on a date. Or Matt Dillon doing mouth-to-mouth on a sedated terrier. Or Ben Stiller being mistaken for a serial killer hitchhiker. Or Bret Fah-vre. In fact, this staunchly R-rated comedy — about two guys’ fight to land their ultimate dream girl — features more yuks-per-minute and yucks-per-minute than any flick in recent history. And...shhh...the Farrelly brothers even threw in a sweet happy ending to build you up (buttercup).
Alternates: American Pie, The Hangover, Old School, Clueless, Mean Girls, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Credit: Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection
Your mood: So sappy, sentimental and Hallmark-y, you could cry
Your movie: A Walk to Remember (2002)
Obviously, you already watch The Notebook on a daily loop — so dig into Nicholas Sparks’ original five-hanky adaptation. Recap: A high school punk (Shane West) falls for a bookish student (Mandy Moore) who has a penchant for artistry and overalls. So far, so cute, right? Then she reveals she has leukemia. Then...then...then (pause to wipe eyes with tissue). Though the cry-fest is shamelessly overwrought, the two actors nicely underplay their performances. Speaking of which: Moore is loooong overdue for a comeback that doesn’t involve judging a reality competition.
Alternates: The Bodyguard, City of Angels, Ghost, Up, Titanic
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection
Your mood: Nostalgic for the mega-joys and mega-angst of teen love
Your movie: Say Anything… (1989)
No offense to current/future mates, but here’s what we really want: A sensitive someone who will point out broken glass on the ground and give instructions on how to drive a stick-shift. In short, we want Lloyd Dobler. In this beauty, the soulful kickboxer (John Cusack) puts his insecurities on the line to ask out the striking yet introverted valedictorian, Diane Court (Ione Skye). No dumb jocularity here: Cameron Crowe laces their timid courtship with poignant and achingly genuine moments. And, of course, he creates an indelible — and not at all stalker-y — image when Lloyd raises a boombox over his head and plays “In Your Eyes” to woo back his girl. Nope, can’t compete with that.
Alternates: Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, She's All That, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Save the Last Dance, Easy A (there’s an homage!)
Credit: Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection
Your mood: Bitterly vengeful at the evil marketing genius known as Cupid
Your movie: Kill Bill, Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)
Quentin Tarantino feels your pain. Examine the auteur’s entire resume, and you’ll find that the warmest love affair lies between Samuel L. Jackson and the F-word. Enter this free-wheeling bloody epic, in which our heroine, known as the bride (Uma Thurman), exacts revenge on her baby-daddy (David Carradine) — and, just for good measure, all her other ex-colleagues who tried to murder her. And since this is Tarantino, we’re talking death via kung-fu-fighting, sword play, knife-throwing and a vicious rattle snake. Killer. Watch the entire two-parter, and this sorry excuse for a holiday will fly by in a jif!
Alternates: Unfaithful, Match Point, Heathers, Thelma & Louise, Cruel Intentions
Credit: Ben Glass/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Your mood: Confident that Ryan Gosling would love you if he ever met you
Your movie: Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
And now, a parting salute to our favorite leading man. Though he makes Us swoon in The Notebook, he’s at his most winsome in this otherwise standard romantic comedy. Playing a charismatic lothario, Ryan — we can call him Ryan, right? —charms his way into the heart of wry law school grad Hannah (Emma Stone). Fast forward to the best scene: After Ryan takes her back to his pad for the first time, he takes off his shirt then confesses that his patented get-in-the-sack move is a re-enactment of the big lift from Dirty Dancing. Wait. You love Dirty Dancing. Boom! Instant ice-breaker topic for your future first date. Until then, mooning over his array of heartfelt, edgy performances will serve as a satisfying consolation prize.
Alternates: Blue Valentine, Drive, Half Nelson, The Ides of March — basically, anything other than Gangster Squad