Valentine's Day, that date night to end all date nights, is almost here! Finding the right way to spend Valentine's Day is never easy, but it can be especially hard on us geeks. It's not that we mean to be snobs, but another viewing of When Harry Met Sally just isn't going to do it for us — we need romantic movies with aliens, zombies or weird, otherworldly technologies if we're going to properly appreciate the moment. Luckily, in that vast sea of romantic detritus that Hollywood has vomited out over the years, there are a few romantic films that manage to hit a high-enough geek quotient to reach that sweet spot of geek love. Here are five of my romantic favorites for your consideration this Valentine's Day.
5. Time After Time
While it's a stretch to call Time After Time anything close to a classic, it's a pleasant little romantic time-travel fantasy that holds up well enough to charm sci-fi fans for some throwback Valentine's Day fun. Malcolm McDowell plays H.G Wells, but in this story, he doesn't write a fanciful story about a time machine: He makes a real damn time machine and then Jack the Ripper steals it for a visit to '70s-era San Francisco. Once he arrives, the Ripper starts ripping (Ripper's gonna rip, after all) and only Wells can stop him! While doing so, he falls in love with a bank worker, and together they try to stop the Ripper from updating his ripping for the modern age. Cheesy, silly, but really fun, this is a little slice of '70s cheese that will make you believe in the power of Victorian gentleman and '70s bank workers to make love work, even when trying to stop historical serial killers from fucking up the future.
4. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
Videogames, comics and love collide in a messy, chaotic and ultimately fun Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Michael Cera takes on the titular role of Scott Pilgrim, a slacker bass player who must defeat a series of evil exes in order to win the hand of his true love. Sure, it's all a little silly, but watching Cera take on a series of super villainous ex-boyfriends (and one ex-girlfriend) of his would-be true love is a nice little romantic trifle that offers a nice diversion from the typical nauseating cliches of romantic comedy. It's definitely a divisive film, but if you come down on the "love it" side, it's the perfect trifle to share on Valentine's Day — if your beloved is just as nerdy as you are.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
There's no relationship more romantic that the "perfect" relationship that you managed to fuck up so badly that you want to erase it from your memory. That's exactly what we get in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie based on a weird technology that lets you selectively erase memories. Of course, nothing is ever that simple in love, and when two people are so hellbent to forget each other, it probably means they belong together, at least in the movies. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star in this tale of lovers who choose to forget each other, only to discover that love, no matter how difficult, is not quite that easy to wipe away.
2. Shaun of the Dead
Last year, I called Shaun of the Dead the perfect Valentine's date movie, and I stand by that call. Sure, it's a zombie apocalypse movie, but it's a zombie apocalypse movie with a charming and believable romance dead at its center, and what else can you ask for on Valentine's Day? Shaun is an idiot, but he's an idiot who loves his woman, and he's willing to put his life on the line for her, especially if in doing so he somehow ends up at his favorite pub, waiting for this whole "zombie apocalypse" thing to blow over. We should all be so lucky.
1. The Princess Bride
Is there any other geek movie with a better mix of nerdy greatness and true love? No. No, there isn't. We've all seen it a dozen times, but that doesn't make it any less effective, especially if you've never watched it with your true love curled up next to you on the couch. Swordfights, giants, poison, big fucking rats and just the right amount of kissing make for a tale for the ages. Perfect to watch with anyone from your six-year-old to your One True Love, The Princess Bride is one of those films that comes along every other generation or so just to remind us how great love can really be, and how great the movies are at depicting it. Not all of us are lucky enough to find a Wesley or a Buttercup to share our lives with, but at least we get this kickass movie to share with whatever pale substitute we find ourselves next to on Valentine's Day.