Going to the movies is a mainstay of the dating ritual in modern society. Yet not every movie that happens to be playing in theaters when you make a date is necessarily appropriate date movie material. In this week’s Roundtable, we reminisce about some of our movie dates gone wrong.
I made a horrible, horrible decision in the first year of my marriage. I was such an ignorant fool.
I go through phases where I will and won’t watch movie trailers. For great movies, blindly walking in without knowing much about the plot or having already seen clips from all the best scenes will make them even better – and for obviously an awful movie, at least I won’t dread it before going in.
One month after my wife had our first child, we decided to ask her mother to babysit our newborn so we could do dinner and a movie. At this point, we’d been married for 11 months (yes, we pretty much had a honeymoon baby), so we were starving to get back to our former lovey-dovey dating selves. When a screening came up for a title that had generated some buzz, I said, “Hey, let’s go check out this acclaimed movie from first-time director Ben Affleck!” Not knowing what we were walking into, I took the new mother of my child to ‘Gone Baby Gone‘, a movie about abducted and murdered children.
It’s a damn fine film, but one that scarred my wife. Due to her wishes, my well-being and the future of our marriage, it’s never allowed in our home.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Bizarrely, I’ve only ever been on one date-date to a movie: ‘The Great Gatsby‘ with my now-fiancée. There really isn’t an amazing story to tell one way or the other there – just suffering through an over-caffeinated, visually spastic take on the Fitzgerald classic with a fundamental misunderstanding of who Daisy is and Jay-Z all over the soundtrack for whatever friggin’ reason. I’d also been on a couple of decidedly not-dates with a crush to see double features of ‘The Burning’ / ‘The Beyond’ and ‘Demons’ / ‘Creepers’. (That she would eagerly go to see 35mm revivals of those movies alone elevates her to crush status!) There really aren’t any unintentionally hilarious or cringingly awkward stories there either, unless you count my doe-eyed adoration of someone who just likes me as a friend, and ack, I don’t want to write anymore about that.
So, here’s the best I can do, even though these absolutely in no way should be mistaken as dates. Every summer, my mother and I used to head to Phoenix to spend a month or two with her side of the family. We’d regularly hit the theater to duck out of the searing desert sun. Being the resident movie nut, I was often the one choosing what we’d watch. We both like killer alien flicks, so I thought ‘Species‘ looked like a winner. Nope! You don’t want to sit next to your mom while watching Natasha Henstridge completely naked for something like 100 minutes straight. Ooooh, this screwball high school comedy looks pretty fun, right? Turns out you don’t want to squirm in the seat next to your mom while watching ‘Election‘ either. I feel like the list keeps droning on and on, but maybe I’ve blocked the worst of it out.
When I state that ‘The Mothman Prophecies‘ is the movie that comes to mind in terms of weirdest movie date, you may think, “What the hell is The Mothman Prophecies”? I took a first date to the packed Friday night opening of the film. As the psychological thriller went through its disturbing progressions, both my date and I became progressively more uncomfortable. There was some really disturbing energy in that theater. After the two-hour runtime (felt like four hours), we found out that one of the two AC units had gone down, causing the theater to heat up like a sauna while still presenting a vestige of cooling. I still shudder when I think of that movie.
My choice isn’t so much based on the content being really inappropriate for a romantic outing, but rather for the reaction that I had to it. ‘The Ring‘ scared the ever-loving shit out of me. I saw it with my now wife and her roommate. My wife, as usual, was unflappable throughout the whole thing. In fact, I’m sure she thought parts of it were plain stupid, but her roommate and I were scared. To be precise, her roommate was scared; I was terrified to the core.
Horror movies are not my thing. When the movie was over, the real terror began. Back then I lived in Tacoma and spent the weekends at my wife’s place in Seattle. Her room was right across the hall from the bathroom. It was a short walk, but for several weeks afterward, whenever I woke up in the middle of the night and needed to cross the hall, all I could imagine was Samara and her stupid #@%&ing hair lumbering down the pitch black hallway at me. So I’d lie there in pain for an hour or so. It finally got to the point that my wife asked what was wrong with me. When I told her, her response was, “Are you SERIOUS?!” I’ve heard this a lot since then, but I think that was the first time she seriously questioned the guy she was seeing. Anyway, we’re still together, I’m still a movie coward, and I still can’t handle that movie.
The man and I decided to have a movie date night out. We had dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant where he ordered a Mai Tai, hoping that it would help him ignore the building sinus pressure of an oncoming cold. It did seem to help so he ordered a second. And then a third, at which point he was feeling no pain whatsoever. I recall some sort of a struggle getting him to stop singing and shouting long enough to get him bundled into the passenger seat of the car.
We proceeded to the movie, got the requisite popcorn and soda, and found some seats in the middle of the crowded theater for the premiere of ‘Mission: Impossible-2‘. We are not Tom Cruise fans, nor ‘M:I’ fans, however we were enticed because it was directed by John Woo. I had high hopes that Woo could make the transition from his legendary Hong Kong action films to the Hollywood scene, and I was willing to put aside his first attempt with ‘Broken Arrow’.
There were a lot of previews and by the end of them, Peter had dozed off. By the beginning of the opening action sequence, he was snoring. I mean, the distractingly loud, guttural, apneated snores of a drunk guy with a cold. Despite persistent nudging from me, he could not stay awake. After fifteen minutes, we left. Since then, we have a two-drink max pre-movie rule.
M. Enois Duarte
When I was in college, I met a lovely young lady who I thought shared many of my same interests in the arts. And she did, for the most part. However, as it turned out, her interest in my interests was a vague, superficial and largely group-think appreciation. As in, only whatever is popular and trendy while literally quoting from whichever review or article she had just read to make herself appear smart. This was Los Angeles in the early to mid ’90s folks, and this sort of hoity-toity, Jack Keroauc-feigning pretentiousness was a real thing and people actually thought it was cool!
Anyhow, for our second date, since we’re still getting to know each other and testing out the waters, I thought perhaps we would check a film that was creating some serious waves at the moment. Besides, it was my birthday weekend, and I wanted to make something special of it. We drove for almost two hours to Newport Beach, which had one of only two theaters in L.A. showing Larry Clark’s NC-17 rated ‘Kids‘. For those who have seen it, you know that this is not a date movie. The car ride home was a battle of the wills. That blonde beauty morphed into a nagging, high-pitched and terribly-opinionated demon, belching out insults about how disturbing the film was and that it should be removed from theaters. Looking back, perhaps I should have given her a chance to read some reviews to mime quotes from.
We lasted for maybe close to a month. After a while, I couldn’t take listening to the opinions of others as if they were her own. I’m sure I only let it go for so long because being under the influence will make anyone seem smart and intellectual. Well, that, and the fact that it was a purely physical thing. Stupid college kids.
Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)
Back in college, I took a girl I had been seeing for about a month on our first real date to see the Jon Cryer classic ‘Hiding Out’. It was about a witness on the run, posing as a high school kid, when he was really about 30. It wasn’t a great movie. It wasn’t even a very good movie. But my date seemed to enjoy it.
Over time, we had a few more movie dates. I took her to see ‘Blue Velvet‘. Very disturbing film, but she seemed to have a good time. Later we would see ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer‘ in an art house in Manhattan (the Angelika). Also a very disturbing film – not recommended for a first date – but she seemed to find that one interesting too. At the same theater, we saw ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover’. The lover (spoiler alert!) ends up being discovered, murdered and then cooked. “Try the cock!” She liked that one too, but fortunately didn’t take any recipe ideas from it.
Speaking of recipes, I also took her to see ‘Tampopo’, a fun Japanese take on Spaghetti Westerns. And guess what? She enjoyed that one too. So I married her.
Since then, we’ve been on several movie dates, some good, some bad. But we’ve always gotten some little nugget from each that we could agree or disagree on. There was always something to talk about. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re on a date with the right person, there is no wrong movie.
Weirdest date: In high school, I took a girl to see ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me‘, even though she had never seen a single episode of ‘Twin Peaks’. I’d already seen the movie on my own the week before, and knew that it required a thorough knowledge of the entire series to follow the plot. Also, it’s a very disturbing, harrowing film about sexual abuse, mental illness, drug addiction, prostitution and murder. Nevertheless, my date was curious about the whole ‘Twin Peaks’ thing, and I wasn’t savvy enough at dating to steer her toward something more appropriate. Fortunately, this was two weeks into the movie’s run – and since the movie was a huge box office flop, this meant that the two of us were totally alone in the theater. I was able to talk her through everything she needed to know about the show and interpret the plot of the movie as it happened. As I recall, she actually liked it.
Worst date: In retrospect, I should have known better on this one, but I honestly thought it was a good idea at the time. Well into our married years, I was certainly aware that Mrs. Z had no interest in anime. At all. Like, zero. Not that I’m much of an otaku or anything, but I have some favorites, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Studio Ghibli. Convinced that I could break through her aversion to anime if she’d just give a good example of it a chance, I dragged Mrs. Z to master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Howl’s Moving Castle‘. I was determined to do this right, so I made sure to find a subtitled screening, not dubbed.
Personally, I loved the film, and think that it’s one of Miyazaki’s best. My wife, on the other hand… well, she didn’t. She hated it. I mean, HAAAAAAAAAAATED it. Hated every second of it, from the Ghibli logo at the beginning to the last frame before the end credits came up, at which point she dragged me out to the theater parking lot and chastised me for every forcing her to watch such utterly horrid, worthless garbage. She hated it so much that she couldn’t even articulate what she didn’t like about it, just that enduring it was one of the worst experiences of her life and that she would hold me responsible for it until the end of our days together. To this day, I’m still not sure exactly what about the movie set her off like that. It’s not like this was ‘Pokémon’, though apparently she doesn’t see a difference. Oh well, it wouldn’t be a marriage if we agreed on everything.
Someday, I will get her to watch ‘Grave of the Fireflies’. And if she doesn’t bawl her eyes out at that one, I’ll fear that her soul has been lost.
Tell us about your worst and weirdest movie dates in the Comments.