PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) – February is… arguably the worst month.
It’s cold, dreary, short to a fault and accomplishes very little, outside of putting groundhogs across the country on blast. Enter: Valentine’s Day! What better way to dress up such a miserable month than drop an entire holiday devoted to L-O-V-E smack dab in the middle?
If getting out to celebrate is not really your speed, may we interest you in a bevy of romance-themed movies to cuddle up on the couch with, instead?
If you like rom coms…
One could argue that Shakespeare wrote some of the first rom coms. In 1999, one of them, “The Taming of the Shrew,” got a high school teen comedy makeover, starring Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford and Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona in break-out roles.
When it comes to will-they-won’t-they love stories, Kat and Patrick are among the top, with chemistry and stubbornness that carry the film through endless quotable one-liners (“That’s because you don’t *have* a Prada backpack!”) and hilarious conundrums.
And while it’s not a musical, it does feature one of the best musical moments in cinema history thanks to a set of bleachers, Ledger’s commitment to acting and a marching band willing to do the most.
“10 Things I Hate About You” is currently streaming on Disney +
Cher famously won a Best Actress Oscar for Norman Jewison’s 1987 romantic comedy, but what people don’t seem to remember is just how deeply weird and funny “Moonstruck” actually is.
But let’s be straight here — Cher totally deserved the prize for her radiant yet conflicted performance as a superstitious widow newly engaged to Johnny (Danny Aiello), whom she likes, but doesn’t quite love.
She does, however, find herself falling for his angst-ridden brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage), who blames Johnny for the loss of his hand. While Johnny is in Sicily visiting their dying mother, Ronny aggressively courts Loretta, while her mother Rose (an Oscar-winning Olympia Dukakis) finds herself flirting with an oily academic (John Mahoney).
At its best, “Moonstruck” keeps plot threads and emotional ties together with the grace of an expert plate-spinner. There’s always the danger that the movie could go entirely off the rails, but while the family at its center may be a mess, the movie certainly isn’t.
“Moonstruck” is currently streaming on HBO Max
“The Wedding Singer” is a classic Adam Sandler flick that perfectly balances outrageousness and tenderness. Sandler plays — you guessed it — Robbie, the frontman of a band for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and so on in New Jersey. He meets Julia (Drew Barrymore), a waitress, and hits it off with her, but he finds out she’s engaged to a cliche ’80s macho man. In full ’80s nostalgia, this 1998 film features Billy Idol, who encourages Robbie to share a heartwarming get-the-girl song for Julia in the 11th hour.
The storyline is a common one, but the music, as well as the bipolar nature and notorious rage of Sandler’s character, makes it a feel-good time.
“The Wedding Singer” is currently streaming on HBO Max
Can a man and a woman ever just be friends? “When Harry Met Sally,” penned by rom com GOAT Norah Ephron, sets out to answer that question over the course of years of friendship, longing, jealousy and love between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan).
In a lot of ways, “When Harry Met Sally” set the bar for the modern rom com. Each quip, stolen glance, enviable outfit and grand gesture has been carbon copied and parodied for over three decades. It’s a love letter to New York, it’s a love letter to falling in love, and it’s a love letter to Katz’s Deli sandwiches … sort of.
“When Harry Met Sally” is currently streaming on HBO Max
If you like sweep-me-off-your-feet romance…
“The Princess Bride” is one of the most beloved movies ever made for a multitude of reasons. There’s the excellent cast, headed by Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, but also featuring Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk and Andre the Giant. There’s the amazing William Goldman screenplay, as perfectly constructed as it is jam-packed with hilarity and adventure.
But more importantly, it’s one of the greatest romances to grace the screen, with Elwes and Wright managing to keep the love story between Westley and Buttercup in focus even as the rest of the cast threatens to overshadow it. Life may be pain, but “The Princess Bride” is eternally a pleasure to watch.
“The Princess Bride” is currently streaming on Disney+
It’s not only Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s also Super Bowl weekend. So why not celebrate both at once with “Jerry Maguire”?
Cameron Crowe’s rom com classic stars Tom Cruise as a self-involved sports agent who suddenly has an attack of conscience. His newfound worldview leads him to write a manifesto that ruins his life. He is fired from his agency, dumped by his fiancee (Kelly Preston), and loses just about everything, except for a temperamental client (Cuba Gooding Jr. in his Oscar-winning role) and a dutiful assistant (Renee Zellweger), who may be in love with him.
While many remember the movie for lines like “Show me the money!” and “You had me at hello,” “Jerry Maguire” still holds up as an epic romantic comedy, with a megawatt performance from Cruise and a winning turn from Zellweger. It’s the sort of movie Hollywood doesn’t do anymore — a keen character study that doubles as a broadly entertaining comedy you can fall in love with.
It’s a poster that continues to adorn countless walls. A young John Cusack holds a boombox above his head while his hopeful yet pitiful gaze casts up toward an unseen paramour.
More than 30 years after its debut, “Say Anything…” is still remembered for that image, as Lloyd Dobler (Cusack) struggles to win back the heart of his sweetheart Diane Court (Ione Skye). But Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut is deeper than that, centering just as much on Court, if not a little more.
Lloyd’s a well-meaning guy who doesn’t have high aspirations outside of being a professional kickboxer. But he’s also sweet and funny, the kind of guy everyone seems hard-pressed not to like. Diane, on the other hand, is the class brain, a hard worker unaware of her chilly, aloof reputation. When Lloyd decides he’s finally going to ask her out after years of crushing, she surprises him by saying yes.
Complicating matters, though, is Diane’s dad (John Mahoney). Mr. Court is absolutely devoted to his daughter. He’s invested in and sacrificed much for her future, and wants the absolute best for her. But he disapproves of the prospect-less Lloyd.
Opposites attract, but Crowe’s incisive, brilliant and beautiful movie shows just how much work it takes for them to stay together.
“Say Anything…” is currently streaming on HBO Max
This atmospheric romance concerns the intersection of two teenage boys growing up next door from each other in the unhappy, unforgiving projects of Southeast London.
Shy, sensitive Jamie (Glen Berry) and rugged, athletic Ste (Scott Neal) start with an uneasy friendship, not quite sure if they can trust each other or not. After an incident with his abusive father sends Ste next door to spend the night, the two find themselves with a sorely needed opportunity to take a step toward their true selves, their lives change forever.
With a soundtrack consisting almost completely of songs by The Mamas and the Papas, “Beautiful Thing” is a cute and simple movie that will take you right back to the exhilaration and exhaustion of first love. It’s a reminder that, when the long road ahead seems impossible, sometimes the best thing to do is stop and savor the moment, throw your arms around your paramour, and dance to something sweet and slow.
If you’re not afraid of heartbreak…
If you're single or feeling miserable — or both — and you need a little schadenfreude to carry you through Valentine’s Day, look no further than “Brokeback Mountain.” Proof that a story-book romance (the film is based on a short story by Annie Proulx) is not always a good thing.
The tortured 20-year love affair between rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and ranch hand Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) should be dissatisfying and heart-wrenching enough to make any viewer’s personal relationships seem like the beaux idéals of romance.
In 1963, the two men are hired to tend sheep on a seasonal grazing range. They form an unexpected bond born of passion and secrecy, which is cut short by the end of summer. As their separate lives, marriages and careers play out, the pair continue to reunite periodically in secret — until it’s not a secret.
Given the timing and setting of the story, one can imagine this story does not have a happy ending, but the truth comes out in the end, and the truth always has a way of setting us free.
“The Last Five Years” is like re-reading old texts with an ex and trying to decipher just what went wrong, but a musical. This screen adaptation stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan — the sole characters, voices and narrators of the love entire story. It follows the couple over — you guessed it — five years of their relationship. However, the movie begins with Kendrick at the end of their relationship — broken up — and with Jordan at the beginning, joyful and giddy at the prospect of a future with her. The majority of the songs are sung solo until they meet in the middle — literally halfway through the movie — duetting both about what’s to come and what has been.
“The Last Five Years” is currently streaming on Hulu
If you want something on the quirkier side of love…
Inspired by the shockingly true story of a man who tied 45 balloons to a patio chair and took flight, “Danny Deckchair” is a charming, Capra-esque romantic comedy.
Rhys Ifans (“Notting Hill”) stars as Danny, a construction worker living in Sydney who yearns for the simple life, to the consternation of his ambitious girlfriend. When he learns she has eyes for a TV sports anchor, he pulls the titular stunt but crash-lands hundreds of miles away in the backyard of Glenda, an adventurous police officer (Miranda Otto, “Lord of the Rings”).
While his disappearance brings loads of attention in Sydney, the rangy, eccentric Danny takes to his new surroundings and reinvents himself as a confident small town big-wig. But when he is discovered, his old life threatens to dash his budding new romance. “Danny Deckchair” is an old-fashioned screwball comedy with a sweetly eccentric heart.
“Danny Deckchair” is currently streaming free with ads on YouTube and Tubi
Not only is it Valentine’s Day, but it’s Oscar season, so this sleeper-hit queer love story in musical form had to be on our list, if only for its insanely decorated cast.
Originally a Broadway musical, “The Prom” follows Emma, a teenage lesbian who just wants to live out and proud in her small midwestern town. She wants to take her girlfriend (played by newly-minted Oscar nominee Ariana DeBose) to prom, but the PTA, rather than let Emma just live her life, decides to ruin it for everyone and cancel prom instead.
Enter Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, James Corden and Andrew Rannells playing four Broadway caricatures ready to turn that Indiana town upside down — and win Emma’s prom back in the process!
There’s a combined 27 Academy Award nominations and wins between Kidman and Streep alone, and we’re not even dipping into the many Tony awards racked up by the entire cast. That’s acting, people.
“The Prom” is currently streaming on Netflix
If family is your top priority…
Whether the movie or musical version, “Waitress” is sweet as pie. Jenna (Keri Russell) is struggling with her abusive husband, and just as she gets the courage to leave, she finds out she’s pregnant — and then falls in love with her OBGYN (Nathan Fillion). Aside from the scandalous love affair, it’s a family movie at heart, as viewers watch Jenna navigate her pregnancy and the relationships around her. (Don’t worry, there are funny moments too.)
“Waitress” is currently streaming on Prime Video
Be prepared to cry.
Through the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, “Coco” explores generations past and present. Young Miguel is an aspiring musician, but his family disapproves. He makes his way to the world of the dead and meets his ancestors, hoping to learn more about his family history and their ban on music, but he must make it back to the land of the living in time in order to stay there. Memories of the past bridge the gap, and the loving familial connection will make even the most apathetic person reach for the tissue box.
“Coco” is currently streaming on Disney +
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