I hate romance movies, but I'm crazy about a good love story. What's the difference? Well, romances are the movies that guys typically don't want to see. Movies like The Notebook or any crap flick that has two young beautiful people on the poster.
And usually is written by Nicholas Sparks.
These are movies where if someone asked you the plot you'd have to say, well, a guy falls in love with a girl and then tragedy strikes and then they try to keep loving each other a lot no matter what! But I find that the best love stories are far more under the radar. They're usually mixed up with plots that have their own lives and momentum. Indeed, some of my all-time favorite love stories are in a variety of genres that no one ever called romance. Which love stories? Glad you asked! Oh, you didn't ask? Wait, you're not even reading this introduction because you jumped right to the first numbered entry? Oh, OK. By the way, that kinda sucks because you never heard me scream, "SPOILERS BELOW!"
#4. Comedy/Horror: Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen and it's based on a simple premise: When zombies start popping up around England, a 30-something slacker and a group of friends must fight for survival. That's it. Like any zombie movie, people get torn apart and eaten, and like anything Simon Pegg is in, it's really funny. But for me, in addition to all of that, Shaun of the Dead is the best love story in the last 10 years.
Lots of comedies have a love interest in their B stories. They're tacked on so Ben Stiller or Vince Vaughn have someone to kiss after they do something funny, but that's not what Shaun of the Dead does. At the start of the movie, Shaun's long-term girlfriend Liz breaks up with him because he is apathetic about everything in his life, including their relationship. All he wants to do is hang out with Liz and his friends at the pub, whereas Liz craves change and excitement. Their relationship just lumbers on with little energy and direction.
And sometimes it eats brains. Nope, wait, I think I lost the metaphor ...
But when the zombie apocalypse strikes, Shaun risks his life to find Liz and keep her safe. Does he become a super zombie killer of Bruce Campbell Evil Dead proportions? No, but he also doesn't cut his girlfriend's head off with a chainsaw, so there's that.
Seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
Shaun does, however, put his life in jeopardy over and over and does what he thinks is right, all for the purpose of protecting his girlfriend. And when the movie's over, he hasn't become a better man worthy of her love. He's the same man, but Liz knows him better. She sees the difference between Shaun's desire for simple comforts and apathy. He's not apathetic. He loves her completely and would do anything for her, but what he wants to do most is just hang out. It seems real. It feels right. And it's telling that a movie about an unexplained zombie apocalypse still has a love story that makes more sense than Titanic's.
Love is never having to move your fat ass and make a little room for a frozen, drowning bastard.
#3. Sci-Fi: The Twilight Zone -- "The Long Morrow"
If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know that I've been Netflixing it up on something of an insane Twilight Zone kick. I always tried watching it on WPIX growing up, but it seemed like they played the same 30 episodes over and over in a loop. I'm finally seeing "new" ones, and one of them, "The Long Morrow," is one of the greatest love stories I've ever seen. Call it a depressing sci-fi Gift of the Magi. Or call it something else if you've never read Gift of the Magi, because then that reference would just be confusing to you. Call it a sci-fi Catcher in the Rye. You've read that one, right? Cool, except it's really nothing like Catcher in the Rye. On second thought, you really don't have to call it anything. It's only 25 minutes long. I'll just tell you about it.
Basically, an astronaut has to go on a mission to see if there's life on a faraway planet. Like 20 years in each direction far away. No big deal; they'll just cryogenically freeze him! Thing is, before he takes off he spends a wonderful night with a young woman.
I forget the character's name, so let's just call her Dr. Va-Va-VaVoom! (And/or Professor Hubba Hubba.)
In any event, he promises to find her when he comes back. She says she'll be an old lady, and off he goes. Fast forward 40 years later, and he comes home. Turns out she couldn't bear living without him, so she had herself frozen to wait 40 years. Harsh tokes, though. He couldn't bear not having her upon his return, so he unfroze himself. He came back an old man.
Yes, he decided to spend every day for 40 years waiting and thinking of her just so he could spend the final years of his life with a woman he met once. And then everything gets effed up and he dies alone. OK, in fairness, this one kind of is a love story, but I include it for two very important reasons. One, it's just so fucking cool, but two, and more importantly, it's shamelessly sentimental in a way that should be fatal. It's a mostly insane, spur of the moment, did it all for love story, and it's kind of crazy, but it still works. Why? Because it doesn't take place during the Civil War with a brave Union soldier risking it all for a Southern belle. It works because if you're not paying attention, it's not a love story at all. Your eyes are on space travel and cryogenic freezing and life on other planets. It's a trick, getting you to lower your guard before it drops the love hammer when you least expect it -- kinda like what happened to our main characters Crusty McOldface and Dr. Hotcakes. (I probably should have wikied the names, huh?)