There’s no shortage of romance in movies today. It seems like every other week, there’s a new movie adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel at the movies. And while The Notebook tends to be date-night favorite, there’s only so many times you can watch the same people running to each other in slow motion, hearing the same swells of music that serve as the backdrop to star-crossed lovers’ reunions. Sometimes you just need something a little different, or a selection of unusual date night movies to choose from when you’re having an evening at home with that someone special.
As a movie buff, I like movies that break the mold or offer something unexpected. I want to be taken by surprise and, well, entertained. And I’m of the firm belief that there’s no reason why a date-night movie can’t be entertaining as well, which is why I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the most unusual movies that could be perfect for any couple’s date night. Put away When Harry Met Sally and , and then go pop some popcorn, grab some Raisinets and an oversized blanket, and put in any of these movies to enjoy with your boo-thang on your next date night.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
It’s not easy for a movie to have something to offer for just about anyone, but Silver Linings Playbook is one of those movies that I thing anybody would enjoy. The main character is an avid fan of the Philadelphia Eagles who is sent to the nuthouse after apparently beating the man he caught his wife with to a blood pulp. In an acclaimed performance by Bradley Cooper, the guy gets released from the nuthouse and tries to put his life back together despite still having quite a few screws loose. When he meet’s Jennifer Lawrence’s character, who’s pretty nutty herself, it becomes quite interesting and even fun to watch the two characters’ interactions as the relationship blossoms. The chemistry between the two is absolutely electric.
Approaching the sensitive topic of mental illness from a comedic perspective was risky, but Silver Linings Playbook has a neurotic energy and charm that’s sure to capture your attention. And while the romance is subtle, it’s guaranteed to hit the rom-com spot.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Everyone raved about this movie when it first came out, but it seems like many people have forgotten about it. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the definition of an unusual romance with the two characters being spies working on opposing teams. There’s certainly a romantic story here, but there’s an argument to be made that the action and spy-vs-spy aspects of the movie are the most prominent.
Call me crazy, but I still believe that Mr. & Mrs. Smith shows Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at their very best. They both look great, are in great roles that allow them to give dynamic performances, and they have amazing on-screen chemistry (and apparently off-screen chemistry since the Brad left Jen Aniston for Angelina Jolie shortly after this movie). The movie’s greatest strength, though, is in the comedy. Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship will laugh at the couple’s marriage counseling scenes and how they can anticipate each other’s habits and quirks throughout the movie. Mr. & Mrs. Smith has action, cuteness, and comedy in equal measures.
I know what you’re thinking: Jesse Eisenberg as a leading man? Kristen Stewart kissing someone other than a sparkling vampire? For me, Adventureland is a movie that I shouldn’t have liked, but did. Perhaps part of it is the fact that the movie’s soundtrack utilizes the very music of the 1980s to great effect. However, despite the clichéd geeky-guy-gets-the-girl trope you’ve seen in every other rom-com since ever, there’s something believable, approachable, and very down-to-Earth about this movie. The characters actually seem human, making human mistakes and occasionally fudging things up.
And speaking of the characters, they’re incredibly well-written. Each is different and could be someone you knew in college, giving the movie an air of nostalgia. There’s not a lot of action, so I’d say this is definitely one of the more mellow movies on the list, but it’ll definitely appeal to the music lovers, people who love the ’80s and super-realist movies, those who can sympathize with working crappy or demeaning summer jobs, and anybody who likes rooting for the underdog. There’s also the hilarious performances of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader to enhance the experience.
True Romance (1993)
It’s probably obvious that this is the perfect movie for date night because it says so right there in the title! This is a movie that, unfortunately, gets overlooked a lot, especially by the younger crowds who seem to rarely have even heard of True Romance. For one thing, it’s the second movie that Quentin Tarantino wrote and is about dude named Clarence (played by Christian Slater) who falls in love with a prostitute (ahem… call girl, played by Patricia Arquette) named Alabama. The two love birds elope and soon find themselves with a suitcase full of cocaine, which they see as being their ticket to a happily ever after. Naturally, unloading the blow isn’t as simple as they’d hoped and involves a lot of collateral damage. The only thing that remains certain throughout this compelling Tarantino masterpiece is Clarence and Alabama’s undying love for each other.
If you have your doubts bout True Romance, put aside the implications of the title and focus on the fact that it’s a Tarantino movie. This means great characters, great dialogue, unique and unexpected plotting, and performances by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. It’s impossible not to love Clarence and Alabama, and despite the film’s occasional glimpses of raw violence, there’s a solid love story at the foundation that balances the movie with many touching moments.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
I almost can’t believe I’m putting a Jim Carey movie on this list, but I guess it’s fitting for a list of unusual date night movies. Admittedly, this is one of his best performances, very much unlike the run-of-the-mill, slapsticky bits he’s known for. Best of all, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a wonderful movie to watch either on a weekday afternoon by yourself or on at-home date night with your main squeeze.
The premise is this: Joel (Carey) meets Clementine (Kate Winslet) and although they’re about as polar opposite as is humanly possible, he’s quickly smitten. Interspersed between cut-scenes of their “meet cute” are scenes from much further ahead in their relationship, and we start wonder whether Joel and Clem’s differences might have been greater than their connection. Throw in a science fiction-esque plot about a special clinic where people can go to have unpleasant memories—even entire relationships—wiped from their mind and you’ve got Eternal Sunshine.
Still, there are plenty of scenes to give you the warm-and-fuzzies, some really compelling imagery, tons of cameos, lots of good humor, but also some melancholic and sad moments, too. In fact, it even gets borderline creepy a couple times. While the basic premise is about a relationship, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the lovechild of Inception and 500 Days of Summer.
Don Jon (2013)
Take a porn-addicted guido, make him fall for a late-middle aged woman, and what do you get? You get Joseph Gordon-Levitt in what’s certainly an unexpected for him. In Don Jon, Monsieur Gorgon-Levitt plays an early-20s guido who only cares about “his body, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls, and his porn.” However, to say that young Jon Martello enjoys his porn is a colossal understatement. The fact of the matter is that he has a bit of a porn addiction, which causes him a level of romantic dysfunction.
There’s a hint of Harold & Maude in Don Jon with regard to the odd relationship that develops between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Julianne Moore in the second half of the movie, but there’s are a ton of laugh-out-loud moments in the movie. Plus, Scarlett Johansson’s “Garden State” accent and Jersey Princess character are a real treat.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Movies where some Hollywood starlet is grieving the loss of her relationship are a dime a dozen, but movies that show how guys cope with emotional breakups are far fewer and, therefore, quite a bit more interesting. However, not only do we see a guy coping with a breakup, but we get to see him an absolute, sobbing wreck.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is definitely the movie that made Jason Segel a household name. Segel wrote the movie and starred in the movie, notably (and unfortunately) going full-frontal as well, but fortunately the moment was meant for humor rather than for eroticism. With great performances by Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell, cameos by Bill Hader and Jonah Hill and Jason Bateman (and Kristen Wiig in the unrated version), and Judd Apatow producing, this is one of those few rom-coms that the dudes may enjoy just a tiny bit more than the ladies.
Oh, and Russel Brand is in this one, but I’ll let you decide for yourself whether that’s a pro or a con.
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
It says it right there in the title: “A Love Story”. If that’s not enough to make this a top-choice among these unusual date night movies, maybe the premise will do it for you. The aptly-named Wristcutters takes place in an afterlife reserved specifically for people who have killed themselves. This other world is a lot like the real world, but colors are dimmer, things don’t work or are broken, and everything is just a little bit worse. After a bad breakup, Zia kills himself and ends up in this dreary afterlife for suicides where he meets Mikal, a girl who insists her suicide was an accident and misunderstanding. When Zia learns that his ex-girlfriend has killed herself and ended up in the same afterlife, Mikal and Zia embark on a journey. Naturally, love blossoms.
As far as creativity, this movie has it in spades. While it sounds a bit over-the-top, it’s actually not as kitschy as you’d think. Best of all, there’s tons of comedy to keep this potentially morbid flick light. Plus, there’s the romance, too.
Unusual Date Night Movies: Honorable Mentions
Wicker Park (2004) is closer to your standard dramatic romance, but one I would almost call an emotional suspense. There are shifts back and forth in time as the lives of two interwoven couples are shown to fit together in some very complex ways. Throw in some conniving deception and some vague similarities to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and this one is a great choice if you’re in the mood for a more somber romance that makes up for its lack of action with emotional complexity.
When it comes to unusual date night movies, it doesn’t get much more unusual than this. Lars and the Real Girl (2007) damn near made it into the top eight just on the premise alone: Lars (Ryan Gosling) lives in a small Midwestern town and is a lonely social outcast who doesn’t even like to interact with his own family… until one day a large package arrives at his door, and that evening Lars introduces his new girlfriend Bianca. Although he insists she’s a wheelchair-bound missionary of Danish and Brazilian descent, Bianca is clearly a life-size doll, which Lars has ordered from an adult website. Instead of setting him straight, Lars’s family and the entire town plays along, going so far as talking to Bianca and inviting her to their social functions.
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009) is based on the true story of Steven Russell, a conman of the 1980s and 1990s who fell in love with his prison cellmate Phillip Morris. Over the course of the movie, Steven (Jim Carey) orchestrates increasingly outrageous cons in an attempt to prove his love to Phillip and ensure that they’re able to continue being together. An outlandish rom-com to be sure, but seeing Carey and Ewan McGregor playing prison-bound lovers is more hilarious and much less scarring than you’d think.
WALL-E (2008) is a delightfully adorable movie about a humanistic little robot who spends his days cleaning the trash-covered surface of an abandoned Earth of the future. Throughout his day, WALL-E enjoys finding and collecting unique treasures and listening to music. One day, EVE (extraterrestrial vegetation evaluator) arrives to search Earth for vegetation—which would be a sign of the planet’s recovery from pollution—and WALL-E becomes smitten. The rest of the film is essentially a love story between EVE and WALL-E as they make their way back to the ship in which humans having been living and waiting for Earth to become habitable again. It’s one of the most underrated Disney-Pixar movies and is just too cute to put into words. Despite technically being a Disney movie meant for kids, you can do no wrong by making WALL-E your date-night movie.
And there you have it… eight unusual movies—and some honorable mentions—that are oddly perfect for your next date night. Many of the movies I’ve listen have some humor or action since I feel those are good genres to balance out romance, but if you find none of the movies I’ve listed above to be the right fit, there’s a whole world of possibilities that span a century.
What do you think of these unusual date-night movies? Are there any I missed? Comment with your suggestions and thoughts, and don’t forget to subscribe and share.