As awkward teenagers, most of us got sucked into the idea that taking your crush out to the movies was the way to handle business. Getting past the “Holy shit, we’re actually going out!” phase, you both had to settle on a location to ‘go out’ to. You never put much thought into where you go out (because, holy shit, you were actually going out with them), so you fall back on the social default: the cinema.
Bad move Johnny, bad move.
As a card-holding movie freak, I’ll go right out and say that cinemas are a deceptive dating trap. Sure, you may’ve scored your first kiss to Maid in Manhattan. Hell, some even lose their virginity in the movie theatre (consider that the next time you complain about the sticky floors). But you got lucky pal, for movie dates are a lot more problematic than you know.
I speak from my mind and from my experiences, both of which have spent their time in the gutter. So allow my advice to guide you past the muddy pitfalls of movie dating.
Choosing your movie
A movie date isn’t about the movie; it’s about the date. There’s no need to find the ‘perfect’ film, but there is every need to make sure the date goes smoothly. When people happen to score that movie date opportunity, two things usually occur:
1) They choose a random film in the ‘Now Playing’ section without thinking about it.
2) They fret obsessively about which film she/he will enjoy the most.
Both situations are polar opposites of the same scale, and ideally, you’ll want to strike the balance. Basic comedies are the safe bets. The trick is not to pick the best films, but to avoid the worst films.
However, ‘worst’ in this case does not mean ‘bad’. Even if you both waste two hours of your lives watching The Darkest Hour, the next two hours can be spent sharing your mutual disdain of it, so Metacritic isn’t going to help you out in this instance. ‘Worst’ in this case means the most contextually inappropriate.
In other words, don’t avoid bad movies; avoid bad date movies.
Just because the critics raved about Blue Valentine doesn’t make it a good date movie. It’s damn near impossible to strum up a romantic conversation about a film that destroys your faith in love.
As a general rule, pick a movie that:
A) Has a good chance of ending happily ever after.
B) Won’t completely embarrass you if your parents caught you watching it by yourself in your underwear.
If it fails that test, it’s not a good date movie. Avoid looking like Travis Bickle.
Film geek ego
If you’re reading this, chances are you consider yourself a bit of a movie fanatic. Hey, I’m glad you are (partially because you got that previous Taxi Driver reference), and if I ever met you in person, we’d probably get on tremendously well, impressing each other with our deep understanding of film and geeking over each other’s amazing Blu-Ray collection.
However, unless your date is also a self-confessed movie nerd, put your film geek ego aside.
It’s not a hard transition from movie lover to film snob in the casual cinema-goer’s eyes. If you try too hard to impress her/him with your enriching analytical skills, you’re more likely to lose their interest. You wouldn’t want an accountant spewing half-an-hour of jargon, would you?
I once lent a girl I was sort-of seeing my copies of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset on DVD in order to show off both my supposed sensitive side and my egotistical hipster-like film knowledge. She watched them, came back to me and said she preferred Dear John.
I almost popped a vein as I broke out into a flurry of “but the performances were far more believable,” and “the script is far more engrossing!”
Here’s what made me look like a douche:
1) I never actually saw Dear John, giving my comparison absolutely no credibility.
2) I was bagging her for having an opinion.
3) I was dissecting a movie to a level that did not interest her.
She was far too polite to say it at the time, so I’ll say it retrospectively: I was a f*cking douchebag. However, we both went out and watched The A-Team. Situation: remedied.
Teenagers, if you’re thinking about engaging in some face-chewing time with the hormonally charged meat-sack next to you, please don’t do it in the cinema. Leave that shit in the backseat of your mum’s Honda. The last thing I need distracting me is the thought of whether what I’m hearing is the couple behind me pashing or someone enjoying a Toblerone way too thoroughly.
Perhaps I’m being bitter about the concept because I’ve never actually done it myself*. It’s not as if I haven’t had the opportunity, I’ve just never understood the mechanics of it.
*Pashed in a cinema, that is. I’ve had one or two intimate nights with a Duty-Free pack of Toblerone. It understands me.
For one, arm rests are a major inconvenience. Unless you manage to score seats where the arm rests fold upwards (like in most Event cinemas), they obstruct you from the person you want to smack lips with. It’s not an impossibility, it just creates strange moments of awkward positioning. You can always share a seat and exchange tongue juice face-to-face, but that just leads to another issue.
I’m a dude who’s terribly paranoid about missing important plot turns. If I’d happen to be doing mouth Zumba with a girl who’s right in front of me while a vital story segment is occurring, I’d probably keep one passionate eye closed while keeping the other eye deadly fixed on the screen. I love making out. I love movies. Should I be forced to choose between the two? Can’t we just taste each other in the back of my mum’s Honda after the film?
I suppose if you’re both bored by the film, sucking face would be a favourable alternative. However, the idea just never tuned in with me. It results in some attention-drawing sounds and movements, and I don’t like the idea of being watched by the dude sitting next to me.
If I have the intention of going out with a girl, I want to get to learn more about her and who she is (shocking, I know, but bear with me). I always thought it was contradictory to that cause to take them to a place where you have to shut up and concentrate about something else for two hours (or, in the case of The Dark Knight Rises, four days and a weekend).
At most, you can whisper. It can be kinda cute, throwing the odd quip at each other. However, you can’t (or, more importantly, you shouldn’t) hold a conversation with that voice.
But on the flip-side, if you’re not a cinemafile yourself but are going out with one, don’t talk. Seriously, don’t. Just don’t. We film geeks are concious of cinema courtesy, and if you break that courtesy, you’re going to plummet in our ratings pretty fast. If you know you’re a talker/whisperer, at least ask them if they don’t mind you talking to them. They might even give you a pass.
And while you’re at it, make an effort to turn your phone off or at least put it on silent (you should be doing that anyway).
You don’t want to make the entire movie date a pointless endeavour, however. Therefore, don’t make it the only thing you two do. Do something afterwards. It seem’s like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s also the most important. You don’t have to have a plan, because you’ve found an excuse to be in each other’s company with this movie date. This is where the actual “talking” and “dating” can take place.
As much as I’ve been bagging the idea of movie dating, I’ll admit that it can serve as a decent starting platform, just as long as you don’t trap yourself in the pitfalls. Some of the most romantic times of my life have involved casually discussing movies with a new partner.