Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day, and it’s been said “love is a many-splendored thing.”
But why do we keep watching the same old tired rom-coms and mainstream Hollywood movies about love, usually between an impossibly handsome older man and a beautiful young woman?
I mean I love my wife and parents, but I don’t just love my wife and parents. For example, I love animals, I love Krispy Kreme donuts, I love a good steak, too, and any number of persons, places and things, so why should my choice in films for Valentine’s Day be any different?
Unconventional love stories on the silver screen do exist, like “Harold and Maude,” a 1971 dark comedy about intergenerational romance between a teen and a septuagenarian, and the 2007 dramedy “Lars and the Real Girl” about a guy and a life-sized doll, but they are oft-cited examples.
But there are other kinds of love that can be recommended for one’s viewing pleasure, such as motion pictures about love of country, brotherly love and a mother’s love, just to name a few. And luckily over the years, there are cinematic explorations of such different types of “love.”
So if the idea of watching “Titanic” again leaves you with a sinking feeling, take a different page out of “The Notebook,” and leave the “Dirty Dancing” for later because the following feature films are meant to broaden the mind about other kinds of love but are no means less affectionate.
Love of a pet:“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is a genuine weeper about a man’s best friend. The 2009 biographical family drama starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen is based on true events of an adopted Akita puppy and the connection and undying love he has for his master.
Love of a spouse: “Return to Me” is an utterly charming 2000 dramedy featuring an ensemble cast directed by Bonnie Hunt. David Duchovny and Minnie Driver play star-crossed lovers who let nothing — not even a heart transplant involving his late wife — get in the way of true love.
Love of a sibling: “The Straight Story,” a biographical drama by idiosyncratic auteur David Lynch, is another personal favorite. The 1999 film is based on the true story of senior Alvin Straight’s 1994 journey across Iowa and Wisconsin on a riding mower to see his ailing brother.
Love of a career: “The Paper” is another favorite of mine featuring a stellar ensemble cast. Directed by Ron Howard, the 1994 dramedy features Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei and Robert Duvall, and comes closest to depicting a day in the life of a journalist.
Love of a parent: “Dolores Claiborne” is one of two Stephen King feature film adaptations that I like — the other being “Misery.” Both star the award-winning Kathy Bates, the former in which she plays a mother and housekeeper accused of murder but is actually protecting her daughter.
Love of country: “Dave” is a 1993 genial political comedy directed by Ivan Reitman that stars Kevin Kline in the titular role as a presidential doppelganger who begins to take the oath of the Oval Office more seriously than the genuine commander-in-chief of the United States.
Love of a celebrity: “Misery” co-stars Kathy Bates and James Caan in a 1990 psychological thriller film directed by Rob Reiner, who is better known for a rom-com classic “When Harry Met Sally.” Bates fixates on Caan as a celebrity author and her performance netted her an Oscar.
Love of a friend: “Let Me In” straddles the line between friendship and budding love, but the 2010 English-language horror remake of a 2008 Swedish vampire film has bite — if you excuse the pun — that’s based on the promise of undying friendship or love by the adolescent outcasts.