Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, you’d have to be pretty much insane to attempt a night out in a restaurant, so the alternative is to stay in, cook, and watch a movie. Avoid the film that’s actually called “Valentine’s Day,” which is a horrendous rip off of the already overrated “Love, Actually,” and there are plenty of delightful options, no matter which Valentine’s Day celebrant category you find yourself in. Here are some suggestions, along with a suggested menu for each.
All the Single Ladies
Rather than look for some bitter anti-love story, avoid the topic altogether and enjoy a flick about sisters doing it for themselves, like the classic 1980 office satire “Nine to Five.” From the glorious Dolly Parton theme song to the splendid, pot-fueled dream sequences shared by the trio of heroines, played by Parton, Jane Fonda and certified bad-ass Lily Tomlin, this is a re-watchable feminist manifesto. And if you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a treat.
Instead of deciding if you’re a Samantha or a Carrie, or if you’re a Hannah, a Jessa or, god-forbid, a Marnie, you and your gal pals will identify with pragmatic leader Lily Tomlin, mousy divorcee Jane Fonda (as if!) or gun-toting sexpot Dolly Parton. Food pairing — barbequed ribs, because that’s what the ladies eat when they get past their differences and work together to stick it to the man.
All ‘90’s girls love “Clueless,” a poem unlimited for guilty pleasures such as shopping and match-making, and a font of quotable moments that can be used on a daily basis (I know of which I speak on this.) Technically people do fall in love here, but that’s not really the point or the pleasure of this ultimate girl movie. Serve your friends a bowl of Special K and two pieces of turkey bacon, and let the good times roll. You’ll be hanging out, having a blast, looking like a Noxzema commercial or something.
Select non-saccharine romances are to be found and one of my favorite films of all time is such a story, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” While the premise is impossible — a service that can erase bad memories from your mind overnight — the emotions are utterly realistic, and when that vision is carried out by director Michel Gondry the result is beautiful, sad, happy and magical.
A couple (Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey) break up and in a typical fit of pique, the girl has all memory of him erased, and he quickly decides to reciprocate. As soon as they meet again, they fall in love again. They chase one another through his consciousness, trying to hide precious memories from the erasing process. Their acceptance of the pain of their relationship as a necessary price for the happiness is honestly romantic. Watch while sharing Chinese takeout.
Romance classic “Annie Hall” doesn’t have a happy ending, but it has a happy middle and this film — and real life — show us that this is no small feat. Hilarious, inventive, and bittersweet, this film honestly depicts what goes wrong even when people are in love, and can be summed up in two words, which you should not quote on your valentines, “Love fades.” Serve with lobsters.
“Amelie” manages to be over-the-top romantic, while also a tribute the small and intimate pleasures offered by a life of solitude. It’s delightful from top to bottom, with a zippy soundtrack and beautiful, whimsical visual style. Just wait 24 hours before you impulsively cut your hair like Audrey Tatou’s impossibly chic bob — not everyone can pull that off. Serve with French bread and crème brûlée.
Single men don’t give a crap about Valentine’s Day.