Movies are a time-tested part of the traditional Valentine’s Day date night, giving couples everywhere the excuse to snuggle together in a darkened movie theater.
Recognizing this, studios both large and small are flooding movie theaters this weekend with a host of sometimes wildly different viewing options. Since standing outside the theater arguing what to see is a mood-killer, here’s a handy guide to your weekend viewing options. If nothing else, it will give you the chance to argue in advance.
Movies opening 2/14
The name “Nicholas Sparks” will tell you everything you need to know about “Safe Haven,” from the undercurrent of tragedy to the copious amounts of longing stares.
The movie follows a young woman, played by Julianne Hough, who runs from a dangerous situation into the arms of a conveniently attractive small-town widower. The danger comes back to haunt her, which adds a tiny bit more on-screen excitement than can normally be found in a Nicholas Sparks movie. Anyone with a low tolerance for the Lifetime channel, however, should brace themselves for the worst.
Based on the first book in a popular young adult series, “Beautiful Creatures” is the weekend’s only other traditional romance offering. A teenage sorceress will have to pledge her powers for good or evil when her next birthday rolls around, and both sides of the family use special effects to argue their point. Naturally, she falls in love with a human, a fact that upsets pretty much everyone.
Despite the inevitable comparisons to “Twilight,” “Beautiful Creatures” is a much more interesting movie. Still, it can’t completely avoid melodrama. While that can be entertaining Р I love watching Emma Thompson overact Р it makes the movie difficult to take seriously at times. The theater will also be crowded with teenagers, which might be enough to dissuade some people all on its own.
“A Good Day to Die Hard”
If you’ve seen any of the “Die Hard” sequels, you know exactly what’s going to be in this movie. Bruce Willis once again shoots everyone, smirks, enjoys sarcastic one-liners and has a complicated relationship with his family. Here, that family is his grown son, played by Jai Courtney with an exasperation that might serve as meta-commentary on the series as a whole. Still, it’s a lot of fun.
Movies opening 2/15
“Escape from Planet Earth”
It’s the only clearly kid-friendly option this weekend, which means that couples who couldn’t find a babysitter may end up here whether they want to or not.
“Escape From Planet Earth” is churned out of the exact same mold those parents have seen before Р self-referential dialogue aimed at parents with just enough slapstick to keep the kids happy. The results are both tolerable and instantly forgettable, though some fun might be had in identifying all the celebrity voices.
“Tabu” and “Amour”
The weekend’s independent film options both offer complex, semi-tragic portrayals of love and memory.
“Tabu,” shot in black and white, follows an old woman through her memories of tragic young love. “Amour,” which has won a truckload of awards on the festival circuit, is a heartbreaking look at what an older couple goes through when the wife’s mind starts to slip away. Of the two, “Tabu” is slightly more cheerful. Both are foreign language films with subtitles.