There's nothing like snuggling up with a loved one on Valentine's Day and watching a romantic comedy, but for practical, self-respecting adults, it can be hard to find the right one (Am I right, fellas?).
Here are eight mush-free recent films that are worth your time this Valentine's Day. Pour some wine, grab the nearest box of assorted chocolates and enjoy!
"Chasing Amy" (1997)
After his cult breakouts "Clerks" and "Mallrats," Kevin Smith set out to write a "mature" rom-com. The result: "Chasing Amy," the story of Holden and Banky, two comic book writers (Ben Affleck and Jason Lee), whose best-friendship is shaken up when Holden deeply falls for Alyssa, another comic book writer who is gay. This film challenges the idea of gender labels with superb Kevin Smithian dialogue and great performances. If you're dubious of Smith's ability to write something romantic or emotionally moving, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Keri Russell stars as a pregnant southern waitress with a pie for every scenario in "Waitress." She's trapped in a terrible marriage to her one-dimensional abusive husband, until an obstetrician -- played by Nathan Fillion -- comes to save her. This is a delightful afternoon rental with a southern feel akin to "Fried Green Tomatoes."
"Safety Not Guaranteed" (2012)/"The One I Love" (2014)
You may know Mark Duplass from "The League," but he's also starred in a string of great indie rom-coms. His last two were romance with a sci-fi twist -- the first about a reporter (Aubrey Plaza) who joins a man on a quest to travel back in time. The other is about a struggling couple who go on a retreat to a California countryhouse where, cliches aside, nothing is as it seems. Both are well-written and far from your typical boy-meets-girl fare.
The "Before" trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)
Richard Linklater is poised to win a bunch of Oscars next week -- so jump on the bandwagon now and watch his terrific "Before" trilogy starring Ethan Hawke. The first film, "Before Sunrise," follows Hawke and French grad student Celine (Julie Delpy) who meet on a train and decide to spend a spontaneous night together. The second and third films -- which take place nine years apart from one other and were actually filmed in that time-span (Linklater likes doing that) -- are about the results of that first life-changing night. A great romantic movie marathon waiting to happen.
"High Fidelity" (2000)
If you're a music snob and you haven't seen "High Fidelity," something is wrong. The film follows Rob Gordon (Jon Cusack) as he chronicles his top five most important romantic relationships while running a record store with his music-obsessed counterparts (one played gloriously by Jack Black.) The film delves into the art of the mixtape, arranging your records autobiographically and other music-lover nuances. This movie will be on your desert island top five after one viewing.
"Lars and the Real Girl" (2007)
Ryan Gosling plays Lars, who lives in his brother's garage and is struggling romantically, until he buys a mail-order female doll that he believes is real. The rest of his small town grows to accept and welcome "Bianca" into the community, and the result is a surprisingly touching film that delivers on its joke of a premise in a heartfelt way.
"Punch Drunk Love" (2002)
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this bizarre little film stars Adam Sandler in a serious role as Barry, a psychologically troubled toilet plunger salesman with seven sisters. Bullied and humiliated all his life, Barry finally meets someone he can connect with, but things start to fall apart around him. On the technical side, this film is intense, beautifully shot and there is no frame misused. People who say they don't like Adam Sandler haven't seen this movie.
"Wristcutters: A Love Story" (2006)
This dark comedy follows a guy named Zia (Patrick Fugit, yes, from "Almost Famous") who decides to end it all after his girlfriend breaks up with him. He doesn't die, but instead goes to a bizarre purgatory where things are pretty much the same, but a little worse. Once he realizes his girlfriend is there, too, he sets off on a quest to find her in this unique film that will definitely make you appreciate life a little more.