The Moviegoer: Get Date Night Right

Leah Lewis and Alexxis Lemire in The Half of It.

Need a little romance? The Moviegoer’s got you covered.  

In a world where many of us have discovered that “work pajamas” are a thing, it may be harder to find a little bit of romance. You have to help the kids do their virtual work, you’re wiped after another day of endless virtual meetings, or maybe you’re just exhausted after you’ve worked an essential service job—no matter what you’re doing, it’s probably time for a date night. 

You don’t need a partner to enjoy these movies, all five are romances that will give you a break from the daily doldrums. So order a nice meal, set the lights low, slip into something comfortable (or just slip off your face mask), and take yourself to the movies. 

Netflix: The Half of It 

Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is the only Asian person in her school and she’s basically invisible to her peers unless they need six pages written on Camus theories. It’s a lonely existence, but Ellie tells herself she’ll be happier once she gets to college.   

Things begin to change when jock Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) hires her to write a love letter to popular girl Aster (Alexxis Lemire). At first hesitant, Ellie finds that she and Aster have a lot in common. As Ellie realizes that she might also like Aster, she begins to develop a friendship with the big-hearted Paul. Can this love triangle be sorted before someone gets hurt? 

A modern retelling of Cyrano, The Half of It is a funny, touching story about the power of love. Writer/Director Alice Wu focuses on how both romantic and platonic love shape us as people. Both Ellie and Paul want Aster, but they find the emotional support they need from each other. This is a deftly funny film filled with clever turns on all the classic high school love story tropes. Wu carefully draws characters that are both full of flaws and doing their best. This isn’t a movie about “getting the girl” as a reward. It’s a movie about cherishing all types of love you may find as you grow up.  

Great Dramedy * PG-13 * 104 mins.  

Kanopy: The Lovers 

Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts) have been little more than roommates for years. Though married, they barely speak, and both are carrying on long-term affairs. Both Mary and Michael assure their lovers that they have plans to leave after their grown son visits.  

But their plans take a turn when the couple share a kiss that leads to a passionate encounter. Soon, Mary and Michael can’t get enough of each other, and won’t return their paramour’s calls and texts. Are these two going to work out their marital problems? Or are both just in love with the chase? 

Funny, sad, and well-acted The Lovers is one of those wonderful character studies that will give you plenty to talk about. No one is the “bad guy” in this romance, because just about everyone is behaving terribly. Winger and Letts have fantastic chemistry, both their fights and their love scenes crackle with energy. If you’re looking for a wry film that takes a more sardonic view of the classic love story, The Lovers is the perfect film.  

Great Dramedy * R * 97 mins.  

Hulu: Poetic Justice 

After the murder of her boyfriend, Justice (Janet Jackson) focuses on her career as a hair stylist, writing poetry and refusing to think about dating. When she needs a ride to an Oakland hair convention, her only option is to hitch a ride with Lucky (Tupac Shakur), a mail carrier who’s been hitting on Justice for months. Though the trip doesn’t start well, a kinship blossoms between the two.  

Justice begins to let down her walls and Lucky begins to show his vulnerability. But can this relationship last once the road trip is over?     

A romantic drama featuring the poetry of Maya Angelou, Poetic Justice has just about everything one could want in a romance. Written and directed by John Singleton, this film is the rare movie that showed off the director’s tender side. There is a genuinely sweet chemistry between Shakur and Jackson as the two fumble toward love. If you’re in the mood for a bickering couple that fight their way into a lasting connection, Poetic Justice is the film for your date night.  

Great Romantic Drama * R * 109 mins.  

Prime: The Handmaiden 

Con-woman Sook-Hee (Tae-ri Kim) is hired to pose as a handmaiden and help a count seduce a wealthy Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko (Min-hee Kim). But as Sook-Hee gets to know the fragile Lady Hideko, she begins to fall for her mistress. A forbidden affair begins and Sook-Hee must decide if money is worth betraying her love.  

But there’s more to the count’s scheme than a simple seduction and Sook-Hee will have to keep her wits about her to win big.  

First thing’s first: Make sure the kids are in bed before you start this movie. A gorgeous romantic thriller, The Handmaiden is a twisting story of love, lust, and money. Set in 1930s Korea during the Japanese occupation, this is a meticulously detailed film with gorgeous costumes and brilliant performances. Director Chan-wook Park crafts a twisting tale of love, sex, and betrayal that is an absolute must-see for an adult date night.  

Great Romantic Thriller * R * 145 mins.  

Disney+: The Princess and The Frog 

Waitress Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) doesn’t have time for romance as she works endless shifts trying to earn enough money for a restaurant. While catering a party for her rich friend, Tiana sees a frog who asks for a kiss. She’s disgusted at first, but the frog tells her he’s a cursed prince and if she kisses him, he’ll give her all the money she could use. The kiss does not go well. 

Now, Tiana is a frog too, and she and her green prince must find another way out of the mess they’re in.  

Disney’s retelling of the classic fairytale, The Princess and the Frog is given new life with a spunky protagonist and a cool jazz soundtrack. This is a wonderful family film that teaches kids the importance of work/family balance in life. Tiana never gives up on her dreams, only realizes that she doesn’t have to achieve them on her own. Watch this movie if you need a break from Trolls 2—trust me, the story and the music are better.  

Great Animated Romance * G * 97 mins.