Like an avenging angel wrapped in red cellophane, Valentine’s Day is back to remind us all that we should be better lovers. You know what, Valentine’s Day? F*ck you and the Whitman’s Sampler you rode in on. Here are 20 reasons why nobody should bother with romance this February 14.
1. The Talented Mr. Ripley
Ripley is a great movie, but it’s long on suspense and deception and short on romance. Ripley connives and insinuates his way through a whole gaggle of actual and imagined romantic partners – both female and male – and even those who manage to survive to the final reel are most assuredly a bit more guarded after dating him. Side note: did you realize that the guy that Ripley romances and then murders is Derek from Smash? Seriously, one of the best casts ever assembled, and also Gwyneth Paltrow.
2. Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Anti-romance, anti-feminist, and anti-gay, Goodbar is the cinematic equivalent of being forced to eat the contents of a dirty ashtray. Diane Keaton plays a teacher for deaf kids who takes advantage of the swinging seventies singles scene to meet and bang as many guys as she can – and good for her, no judgments here. If only the film had the same live-and-let-live attitude – instead, it has her brutally murdered by a gay guy (played by Tom Berenger) who has just been bashed at a Pride parade and is trying to turn himself straight by sleeping with a woman. (He can’t perform, so he flips out and cuts her to bits. Who hasn’t been there, eh fellas!?). A lovely message for men and women everywhere: Don’t ever leave the house again!
3. Another Gay Movie
Sure, Another Gay Movie wasn’t setting out to be a romance – it was trying to emulate bawdy sex comedies like American Pie and Porky’s, but for a gay audience. Thing is, those movies were actually funny, and they did manage to fit some romance in between pastry-bangings and weenie-pulls. Here, there is a glimmer of an actual love story between two of the guys, but it’s overshadowed by disgusting gross-out gags, unlikable characters, and general unfunniness.
4. The Shape of Things
You could justifiably put every Neil LaBute movie on this list, but The Shape of Things makes the cut because not only does it feature LaBute’s standard dosage of flagrant misanthropy, but it also dares to pick on Paul Rudd. In Things, Rudd meets the girl of his dreams (Rachel Weisz, perfectly cast), an artist who then proceeds to give him a head-to-toe makeover. In the end, it turns out that it was all a giant art project about how pathetic and willing we all are to give all of ourselves in the name of love. What. A. Bitch.
Kissed is one weird-ass movie – but it’s better than you might expect a romantic drama about necrophilia to be. The always watchable Molly Parker stars as Sandra, a woman in mortuary school who has a thing for sleeping with corpses. A fellow student falls hard for her, and when he discovers the truth about her sexual and emotional proclivities – SPOILER ALERT – he commits suicide so that she can finally love him completely. GAH.
6. Swimming with Sharks
One of the better Hollywood satires out there, Sharks is also extremely cynical (as they most are), allowing its hero to choose his career over love in the most fatal possible way. (Sorry, Michelle Forbes!) Fun fact: the evil boss, Buddy Ackerman (played by Kevin Spacey) is allegedly based on gay superproducer Scott Rudin – which is funny, considering that in this storyline his character is actively trying to sleep with his assistant’s girlfriend.