This is the 3rd year that I have watched as many romances as I could in the month of February! (2016 and 2018 were my others; poor ’17 got skipped.) There were a lot of popular ones that I couldn’t seem to find anywhere, oddly enough, so I will try harder with those next year. Three of these were rewatches, and nine of these were new-to-me.
Here are my reviews! (Asterisks* are for rewatches.)
*The Proposal (Feb 3rd) suggested by Emily H.
I saw this when it first came out about 10 years ago; it was my first Ryan Reyonlds movie. I don’t remember being impressed but I didn’t remember much. On the rewatch, my thought in the first few minutes was that Sandra Bullock isn’t really as fierce or as mean as she’s implied to be by all of her co-workers and the terror they have for her, at least not from what her actions show. Sure, she seems no-nonsense, anti-social, tough, and used to having her own way. But the firing of the guy, while sudden, appeared to have grounds, and her conversations are terse but not insulting or particularly terrifying. If you’re going to set her up as someone that her co-workers describe as “it” and seem to be frightened around, you’ve gotta show that a bit more to the audience so that we can believe it.
That being said, it’s not a bad premise and the execution is decent. Sandra and Ryan are sufficiently awkward in their fake engagement, and the gradual getting-to-know each other and showing vulnerability felt authentic. The family was sweet, and Ryan is charming. (I DO remember that I had a celebrity crush on him from first watching this movie. I think it’s his sympathetic face.) I would’ve enjoyed more chemistry and banter between the two of them. But overall, it was a good rewatch.
Nights in Rodanthe (Feb 11th) suggested by Auntie Donna
It is annoying that I cannot figure out how to pronounce the name of this town (do I say the “e” or not?) but the movie was quite sweet. I didn’t know it was a Nicholas Sparks story, but by the end I was thinking “this sure feels like a Nicholas Sparks story” so he clearly has a style. I was worried it was gonna be an affair movie, but while she might not’ve been technically divorced from her husband, she was separated as if divorce proceedings were in order, so it didn’t have the same feel for me as an affair movie, which was good. The two characters were well-developed and were played very charmingly, and it had a good ending even though it was sad. The part that moved me most, though, was Diane Lane’s relationship with her daughter and the conversation they had on the porch swing. I was touched by their reconnecting. It was a sweet one.
500 Days of Summer (Feb 15th) suggested by Maria
This was super creative! I was intrigued by the style right off of the bat, with the bouncing back and forth for days and the sporadic little moments of narration and the artistic style… it kept me interested all the way through. It was interesting, the characters were fun and quirky, and I really liked both of their arcs. I particularly liked Zooey Deschanel’s conclusion and the fact that, even though it wasn’t their own love story to each other, their romance with each other kind of propelled them forward into their next relationship. She learned how to open up and be ready for that kind of relationship, she just needed to wait for it to come along. And he matured and had his expectations become a bit more realistic, even while keeping the faith in romance. Finally glad to knock this one off of my “to watch” list!
Raising Helen (Feb 16th) suggested by Emily S.
I was hanging out at a friend’s house and this ended up being an impromptu watch. This one is actually much more of a “parent and children” movie than it is a romance, but the cover does NOT indicate that at all. The cover just has Kate Hudson and John Corbett, and I think the back said something like “she has a glamorous life until circumstances force her to head to her hometown and she has to juggle her new life and love” or something vague like that. It says nothing about the fact that she is given 3 children to take care of and that the whole movie revolves around her learning how to be a parent. But it was sweet; I knew all of the kids (who are good actors), and John Corbett is such a nice guy. I enjoyed watching her relationships develop and how she really was a good fit for them. The only thing I didn’t quite get was the whole deal with the letters. There was this big mystery of “what was the reason that Helen was gonna raise the kids?” and the answer was either “because Helen was a lot like the mom” or “Jenny was a lot like the mom” and I couldn’t understand which one and why it was a motivation or why it was so important. But aside from that confusion, it was a pleasant watch and I would happily see it again.
Once (Feb 17th) suggested by Myself Because I Own It
I’ve owned this one since last year and still hadn’t seen it, so I figured it was about time to get it watched! And while it was not what I had expected, I think I liked it. It’s not quite a musical, and it’s not quite a love story, but it’s in both categories. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna like the very amateur style of filming; there was one moment when the person with the camera walked up to Guy and you could see the camera jiggling, and it made the whole thing seem like a documentary instead of a movie. But it didn’t seem to affect my enjoyment of the film, and I think it was what they were going for. I thought the relationship between Guy and Girl was really sweet. I loved the accents, and I loved watching their natural connection of music, and each of them being so excited to listen to the other person’s art. I also enjoyed seeing their own individual stories play out, even if they were small. I am kind of surprised that “Falling Slowly” was the only song out of that movie that became famous, though. I’m gonna have to go listen to that soundtrack since it had a lot of original music and see if there are any others that grow on me more. This was different, but cool!
*The American President (Feb 17th) suggested by Emily H.
On a rewatch, I actually knew who Michael Douglas was! I’ve only seen him as the crabby old man in Ant Man and its sequel, but he is very cute in this. He has this great unassuming smile that is wonderful in scenes with the two of them together. I enjoyed this as much as I did the first time, but it had been a while since seeing it so I needed to know if it was still deserving of its praise. While it’s not the most amazing movie or the most memorable, they had a good romance and it was a fun plot to delve into. Both characters were likeable. There were the typical clichés about “guy makes a promise, guy seems to break it, girl gets mad, he fixes it and wins her back”, so that part was kind of predictable; but most romance movies are, so what can ya do? It’s definitely one to remember that I like for future watches.
Sliding Doors (Feb 18th) suggested by Myself On Netflix When I Didn’t Feel Like Watching Any of the Ones I Needed to Watch
This was a really interesting one! I watched it of my own accord on Netflix because I didn’t feel like watching one I was supposed to watch ? and I definitely liked it. Gwyneth is good in this, and her schmuck of a boyfriend is sympathetic even though he’s a thoughtless jerk, and James is adorable! I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything else, but he was just instantly likeable in this movie and I routed for him so hard. I had no idea what to expect for the ending, but I was pleased with it despite the several sad moments. Definitely gonna have to remember this one! It was creative and executed well.
Safe Haven (Feb 21st) suggested by Greg
I watched the last 20 minutes of this at some point last year, so I kind of knew where it was going when I finally put the full movie on today. But I didn’t remember enough of it to spoil anything. Basically all that I knew going into it was that her husband who was searching for her was abusive. I liked her as a character pretty well, and I liked watching her relationship with the daughter. I liked parts of Josh Duhamel’s character, but he sometimes didn’t feel cohesive; for example, all of his conversations with his struggling son felt flat, like there was supposed to be more to it. I also sometimes got irritated with his strong reactions; not because he was always in the wrong, he wasn’t, but just because he was living out the romcom clichés of “somebody has to get mad at someone in this conversation, oh, I guess it’s me who’s doing that even if it’s not completely reasonable”. He really wasn’t horrible, he just didn’t click with me.
Also, the whole ending with Cobie Smulders was something I practically guessed, I just didn’t officially guess it because I didn’t think it was gonna be a movie with ghosts. Also, does that mean that Cobie just went around and haunted every single eligible female until she found the one that he was gonna marry? Also, if they hadn’t answered who Cobie’s character was, Cobie’s existence would have been utterly pointless because she did NOTHING in the movie and was just weird and mysterious… so even though the answer was sort of silly, it was sweet and it worked better than it not being there at all. So not a great movie to me, but not bad.
*Penelope (Feb 25th) suggested by Faith
I had seen this twice before, years ago, and I had a memory of not really liking it. I also didn’t care for James McAvoy at the time.
On this rewatch, it somehow worked a lot better for me. I like James a lot more as an actor now that I’ve seen him in more movies, and his charisma shines through stronger than on previous watches. I understood the story better, and I the characters all make more sense to me. I think last time I didn’t understand any of their motivations; but this time around, I much better grasped her whole desire for freedom (why she left in the first place) and the fact that he couldn’t propose but then didn’t really get the chance to tell her why.
The one gaping problem for me is that the climactic solution really doesn’t make any sense with the way the curse was originally phrased; I totally don’t buy that that’s the answer and think it’s stupid. But it doesn’t ruin the movie, I just think they should’ve tightened up the wording. The romance still works, and that’s the main thing that matters.
The Big Sick (Feb 27th) suggested by Hannah
This was not what I expected, really; I thought it was gonna be a traditional yet quirky romance, so when all of a sudden the chick is unconscious for the whole middle 3rd of the movie, I was like “oh is this the direction it’s going?”. I did like it, though; the main guy was funny and sweet and complex enough. I really enjoyed watching him develop a relationship with her parents, from the awkward “you shouldn’t even be here” to them wanting him around and defending him. I think the characters are nicely fleshed out, the humor lands, and it was heart-warming with a realistic but satisfying ending. I expected to feel slightly stronger about it, but it might grow more on future watches.
Pretty Women (Feb 28th) suggested by Elizabeth Because I Needed More Movies and She Owns This One
This was another one that was pretty high on my “I’ve heard of it and probably should see it” list. It was also the second Richard Gere one that I saw for this month, though it was the first time I’d seen him with some not-gray hair. While seeing a Garry Marshall movie that’s R-rated was weird to me and threw me off a bit, I definitely liked it. Julia Roberts is adorable and believable; it’s fairly unique as far as movie plots go; and it’s fun to just watch Richard Gere’s face as he watches her. He’s got a good “thoughtful, falling in love” face. He’s not majorly expressive, but he’s subtly charming. Hector Elizondo is always a fun bonus character and he was great in this. I also appreciated the fact that they didn’t constantly make her stick out like a sore thumb once she went with Richard to his parties. I was worried that they were going to turn her into the “she just can’t hide her uncouth behavior and will always make a spectacle of herself” character as a comedic thing, but they didn’t. She was both professional and interpersonally complex. It was a good watch with a satisfying conclusion and story execution, and I’m glad to finally cross it off my list.
Train Man (Feb 28th) suggested by Hannah
This took a bit of finagling to download and make sure it had subtitles (since it is foreign) but I finally got it watched in the last 2 hours of the last night of February. ? It is definitely a cute movie. It’s hard to know whether it’s the romance itself that is more adorable (because they are both super cute people), or the friendship and support from his online friends. It’s the combination of the two, for sure, that makes it such a sweet movie. I loved that we get to see teeny-tiny glimpses into the lives of the main 7 or so online friends, and the moment on the train where they’re all in front of him and then you realize it’s a whole horde of encouraging commenters all cheering… it’s pretty awesome.
I did think it was a little overdramatic at first and for a few moments I didn’t understand why he was having such a hard time with things; but then I think it kind of clicked that he has this social anxiety about even the seem-to-be simple things and that it wasn’t just another teen movie. I especially connected it when the other kid, the guy who always stays in his room, kind of said “hey, everything you’re doing is brave and the things you’re doing are hard for me, too”.
(Side note: my sister Elizabeth says that one of the things that they do a lot in Japanese anime is that the characters are always sweating, shaking and gasping as their way to emote, and it’s a bit too weird for her. They kind of did the same thing in this movie to demonstrate his anxiety, and I wonder if it is a cultural movie thing.)
Anyway, this was definitely a sweet one with some really special moments that were created. It was a good way to end the month!
1 foreign language
1 based on a true story
2 Richard Gere movies
2 Nicholas Sparks stories
2-3 where romance isn’t the main story line
3 with a time frame in the title
3 1/2 where the couple doesn’t end up together at the end of the movie
5 that involve people of noticeably different classes/situations getting together
5 where the woman has 2 potential “suitors”
6 where I’ve seen BOTH actors in at least 1 other movie
MY TOP 5:
500 Days of Summer
The Big Sick