When I was a junior in high school, I dated a girl who hadn’t seen The Sixth Sense. What’s worse, she didn’t know the ending.
After we finally watched it together, her crazed expression of disbelief at the film’s stunning conclusion matched Bruce Willis’ as he suddenly discovers his ghoulish nature. Being with her as she experienced the movie for the first time must have been equally as satisfying as my own first viewing, for which I was 7 years old.
Whether that feeling of satisfaction continued after the movie ended, I cannot comment.
I can say that watching The Sixth Sense with my then-girlfriend who hadn’t seen it before has created a much more fond memory than whatever canoodling followed after the credits rolled.
Watching movies with your significant other can mean so much more than a ploy to make a move on the couch in your mom’s basement. When done correctly, it can be an engaging and intimate experience.
Maybe I’m a romantic. Maybe I’m a movie nerd. Maybe I don’t have the libido of some of my male counterparts. But in every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve always valued the ability to watch movies while laying on the couch with someone as one of the greatest benefits of having a girlfriend, even without the fooling around.
Fortunately, I’ve been in relationships in which my girlfriend(s) shared my appreciation – for the most part, I think – for movie-watching without the pretense of what might happen during a lull in the action.
The girlfriend whom I’ve had the longest relationship with – close to two years – was particularly on an even keel with me when it came to watching movies together. Most of our date nights consisted of either going to the movie theater or watching movies together at home.
I can’t recall a single instance in which either of us interrupted a movie we were watching to make a move. Let the movie end, then do what you will. That was kind of an unwritten rule of our relationship.
In the interest of further examination of the subject, I reached out to her to ask her if she always understood that rule. She articulated what we – and most couples, for that matter – never really spoke of.
“When you watch a movie alone with someone, there are moments of electricity between the two of you during that viewing experience that you may not verbalize, since you’re wrapped up in the film,” she sent in a text. “But when the movie ends, those electric moments still hang in the air and often lead to intimacy.”
That sounds about right.
“Sorry for making you make out with me during Shaun of the Dead that one time when I knew you actually wanted to watch the movie,” she added.
Oh yeah. That happened.
Random acts of passion aside, we had a healthy run of platonic movie nights throughout our relationship.
Our first Valentine’s Day together, we weren’t actually together. We were still at a stage where we knew something was going to happen, but it hadn’t happened yet. We watched “No Country For Old Men” together at her house, on separate couches, if I recall correctly. Nothing happened.
While some may look at that Valentine’s Day as a failure, couples on this upcoming Valentine’s Day would do well to take a note from our genuine-natured desire to be with each other on the year’s most romantic day.
Don’t overdo it, enjoy each other’s company and choose from these movies to watch together, hopefully on the same couch.
10. Midnight in Paris
A modern-day love fantasy set in the romance capitol of the world, “Midnight in Paris” is a date-night movie dream come true. The main character – played by Owen Wilson – is literally transported into the romantic era of the 1920s, where he falls in love with Pablo Picasso’s mistress. It’s a love story 100 years in the making.
9. The Wedding Singer
I wanted to stray away from picking Adam Sandler romantic comedies. While they’re usually pretty funny, they’re rarely romantic. “The Wedding Singer” however, breaks the mold. It’s a warm-hearted story of guy meets girl, guy falls in love, girl has boyfriend, guy plays song on airplane, guy kisses girl, everyone’s happy.
8. March of the Penguins
Chicks dig penguins, man. Few of my movie-watching escapades with girls has brought about as much sheer astonishment as experiencing the brutal reality of an emperor penguin and their plight to save the ones they love.
“Adventureland” is one of the more relatable love stories for the college-aged audience in recent memory. Before he was channeling Mark Zuckerberg, Jesse Eisenberg plays James Brennan, a nerdy kid who falls in love with the cool girl at his summer job at a 1980s amusement park. A truly great summer romance movie.
6. Little Miss Sunshine
“Little Miss Sunshine” has something for everyone. Overall, it’s a depressing look at the materialistic nature of modern society – yet manages to maintain a feeling of lightheartedness thanks to its outstanding cast.
5. The Princess Bride
Somewhat of a cult romantic comedy from the 1980s, “The Princess Bride” is nonetheless an epic of a love story that feels like it would have been welcomed in any decade. Westley’s dangerous journey to rescue princess Buttercup carries a kind of familiarity to classic fairy tales that few movies can boast.
4. Good Will Hunting
Though its known as the tale of a genius born into unfortunate circumstances, “Good Will Hunting” is actually a love story hidden behind that complex and original idea. The theme is that life’s purpose, for anyone – even a mathematical prodigy, is to find love.
3. It’s a Wonderful Life
“It’s a Wonderful Life” usually gets played seasonally around Christmastime, but its messages about family, friendship and love should be welcomed in households year round. Every relationship in the world can learn a thing or two from George Bailey and Mary Hatch.
I could have included at least five Pixar movies on this list, but “Up” stands out because of the imaginative and mature way it tells the story of Carl and Ellie, lifetime lovers who become separated by death. The montage of their life – a four-and-a-half minute masterful piece of filmmaking – is one of the greatest scenes in romance history.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is the greatest love story of our time because it’s the most realistic, even with all of the futuristic-style memory erasing. As Joel and Clementine choose to stay together even after seeing all of the horrible things that will happen, “Eternal Sunshine” gives every couple who watches it hope.
The Truman Show, Ocean’s 11, Rocky.
Date-night favorites I haven’t seen – Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Say Anything.
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com.