Sometimes I wonder whether I should just stop watching those Youtube engagement videos. You know the ones: with the choreographed dancing, brass bands, and homages to 90s console games. The problem is, I always inevitably go through the same set of emotions: total elation that the world is so fluffy and wonderful and filled with joy, then total misery because I realise the reason these videos have, like, a 1 million views must be because they’re pretty rare occurences and no one will ever tie an engagement ring to a fleet of puppies for me and I will die alone. While on an individual basis they’re a heart-warming affirmation that the ‘love conquers all’, collectively they’re kind of problematic in the way they reinforce this idea that true love is only expressed through action. Meaning the bigger the show, the more attention it attracts, the bigger the love. And I’m sure we don’t need it explained that it’s total bogus and someone can love you deeply without hiring a gospel choir to get the message across.
That said it’s so, so hard not to fall for it all, especially when taken into consideration how I’ve taken so many of my life teachings from the movies. Which is why I never, ever talk about Fight Club (except for right now). They just make it look so darn appealing: you have your one big moment and then the credits roll and nobody really cares what happens afterwards. So I’d thought I’d share with you good people the ten movie moments that ruined everything by raising my romantic expectations to impossible levels. THANKS A LOT HOLLYWOOD.
#1 The big musical number from 10 Things I Hate About You
The ‘big musical number’ must be everyone’s go-to grand romantic gesture and, really, I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick Verona ruined A LOT of people’s romantic expectations in life. There’s so many good things going on here. First off, we have the rebellious, moody outsider suddenly belting his heart out and dancing around like a giddy child. It’s possibly the most perfect balance between bad boy and sensitive romantic since Mr. Darcy; a dangerous mix that can ruin the minds of teenage girls. Then you’ve got to factor in the amount of effort. How long did that brass band have to practise for this? Effort and dedication makes me so hot under the collar. Also Shakespearean adaptations! Sexy, sexy Shakespearean adaptations.
#2 Building an aquarium (or at least attempting to do so) from Rushmore
Aquariums are super romantic, right? Do you NOT remember that scene from Romeo + Juliet (sexy, sexy Shakespearean adaptations)? I know that (a) Max Fischer is trying to do this to impress his teacher so it’s totally inappropriate and (b) he fails and gets expelled from Rushmore in the process, but that still doesn’t stop me from dreaming that one day someone will try and build an aquarium for me without asking any permission.
#3 The field of daffodils from Big Fish
Choosing between this scene and the one in Edward Scissorhands where he carves her an ice statue was tortorous. Pretty much all I did when I was 15 was watch Tim Burton movies on loop, so both of those moments pretty much destroyed me emotionally. As much as we tag everything Burton touches with “dark”, “twisted”, and “gothic”, it’s in his movies I’ve found some of the sweetest moments of romance. Burton’s romances are the kind where you’d spend all your time punting down a river and reading each other French poetry. Also, the fact that Ed Bloom doesn’t fight back against Sandra’s brutish boyfriend is great because pacifism is super sexy.
#4 Running down the street screaming their name from Wild at Heart
I never thought I would write the words “Nic Cage” and “romantic” in any close proximity; but I have to say, for all the usual David Lynch disturbing-ness, the final scene had me pretty weak at the knees. After Glinda the Good Witch (Sheryl Lee, no less!) tells him “don’t turn away from love, Sailor”, he pumps his hands in the air, screams “LUUULLLAAAAA!” and runs after her, climbing over cars to reach his lady love. If that wasn’t enough, he then sings to her Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender’ (what a song) and she totally freaks out because he promised to only sing it to the woman he married. And then I went to lie face down on the floor for a bit because David Lynch is the best.
#5 The road-trip mix from Elizabethtown
I have to say, I wasn’t really a huge fan of Elizabethtown. I mean, it was the movie that coined the term “manic pixie dream girl”: the one-dimensional quirk who helps lost young men find themselves but has absolutely nothing else going on with her life. K-Dunst is a queen and deserves all the dimensions going. Also, Orlando Bloom’s American accent. Yeesh. That said, there was just something about the final moments of this movie that were kind of magical, as Claire gives Drew special instructions to take a road trip home with his father’s ashes. Along her specially planned out route he has poignant moments at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated. All with a totally rad soundtrack. Not only does the time taken for arts and crafts/CD-burning come under the “effort and dedication is super hot” category, I loved the fact this solitary road trip was Claire’s suggestion in the first place. She just knew Drew needed time alone to confront and come to terms with his issues with his Dad.
#6 Becoming a revolutionary leader from Viva Maria!
This movie might not be that well known, but I just had to include it because it features one of the most badass romantic gestures in my personal catalogue. Viva Maria! sees Bridget Bardot, as the daughter of an anarchist, and french movie-star Jeanne Moreau, as a singer in a travelling circus, team up to accidentally invent striptease and eventually join in on a rebellion against a ruthless dictator. The real kicker though is that Jeanne Moreau falls in love with the revolutionary leader and promises to take his place when he is tragically killed; she then totally just leads them to victory and social change like it’s no big deal. And Bridget Bardot helps her because BFFS are for life, not just for Christmas.
#7 The birthday cake from Sixteen Candles
So, I know out of all the 80s teen comedies, I really should have gone for Say Anything in terms of grand romantic gestures. But I don’t want to. You know why? I just don’t find the whole stereo thing that romantic. I mean, Diane is trying to sleep. In fact, he didn’t know she wasn’t already asleep. And I don’t care if you’re Bradley Cooper juggling pizzas, no one wakes me up for anything unless my life is under immediate threat. Sleep time is precious time. On the other hand, Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles rocks up not only at an appropriate time of day but also with CAKE. GOD DAMN CAKE. Also, I totally sympathise with this movie because my birthday was always the first day of school so 99% of the time everyone forgot because they were too busy talking about their summer tans. So a guy remembering your birthday is a pretty big deal to me, just saying.
#8 Writing a song from Before Sunset
Another staple from the romantic gesture gallery. I’m actually surprised at the fact I love this scene so much, considering in almost any other circumstance I find it embarrassingly cringey. Of course, considering it’s led to some of the world’s greatest music, it’s not that I take any issue with writing a song about your current love interest; that’d be silly. It’s the idea of making them sit down and be like “LISTEN TO THIS SONG I WROTE ABOUT YOU.” Because what if it’s really bad and then you just have to nod awkwardly along to it? It seems less about trying to get your feelings across and more about you just secretly wanting them to declare you a genius and the second coming of Jeff Buckley. Here just feels different, though. Firstly, he makes her play it. Secondly, Julie Delpy is just super charming and self-effacing so the whole thing just comes off so sweetly genuine, without an ounce of tortured artist-type pretentiousness.
#9 The goodnight tap-dance from Top Hat
Without going into the fact that musicals in general have ruined my every concept of romance because life doesn’t come with a backing track, this scene from Top Hat is really a killer. Basically, Jerry Travers (aka Fred Astaire, the smoothest man in town) is tap dancing his soul out when Dale Tremont (aka Ginger Rogers, the smoothest lady in town) storms upstairs to complain the noise has been keeping her awake. Jerry falls head over heels in love with her (who wouldn’t, I mean, it’s Ginger Rogers), and decides to apologise to her by playing Sandman and performing this little routine to lull her to sleep. You see, John Cusack is trouble in my books for stopping someone from sleeping, while Fred Astaire wins all the points for helping someone fall asleep. The key to love is being well-rested guys.
#10 Breaking out of prison four times from I Love You Philip Morris
Breaking out of prison once to be with your true love is one thing, breaking out of prison four times is just epic. The clincher with this movie, though, is that it’s all based on true events. Steven Jay Russell is an actual real life person who broke out of prison a total of four times to be with his boyfriend Phillip Morris. I’ve never met anyone willing to share their last oreo with me, let alone scheme their way out of a high security jail four freaking times.