Looking to skip the lines at the movie theater and celebrate Valentine's Day with a good movie at home instead? No one says you have to watch some tired romcom or a dramatic Nicholas Sparks movie just to stay on theme. Over the years, cinema has given us some truly wonderful love stories, packaged in great movies that might not traditionally be billed as a romances. Love happens in some unlikely places in film, like while being hunted by a futuristic cyborg, or during a murder trial, for example. We came up with a few of our favorite love stories in non-romance movies, for those looking for something a bit outside the box this Valentine's Day, and we've offered an argument for each as to why these romantic pairings resonated with us.
The Terminator - Sarah Connor and Kyle ReeseOn the surface, The Terminator is a movie about a woman who's targeted by a futuristic cyborg looking to destroy her and eliminate the existence of her son, John Connor. But take a closer look at the story of Sarah Connor and her protector Kyle Reese and you'll find an incredibly romantic love story about a brave man who takes a one-way trip to the past to protect the mother of his idol. To Kyle, Sarah Connor is a legend. She's the woman who raised and trained John Connor to become the man Kyle knows in the future. She's also the woman he's loved from afar, admiring her in the photo that, as we learn later, was taken right as Sarah was reflecting on Kyle, the father of her unborn baby.
Yes, Kyle's trip through time was fated, as he not only played a crucial role in protecting John's mother, but also in conceiving John. That in itself is a great twist, especially when we consider John's unseen involvement in setting his parents up, but it's the connection between Sarah and Kyle that really resonates. They're not simply two characters who sparked some chemistry during chaotic circumstances, as so many leads do in an action movie. Their bond is a collision of sorts, as her story is only just starting, while his destiny is playing out its final notes. She's an average single woman in the 80s who's only just starting to discover the kind of strength she has inside her as she faces the challenge of knowing she's going to birth and raise the leader of the resistance against a war with the machines. And he's a man from a harsher reality who's only known violence and has never been in love. He traveled across time to protect this woman, knowing in his heart that he loved her even before he met her and willing to die for her as he would for the son she'll eventually have. Sarah and Kyle's story is not only crucial to the set-up of the Terminator saga, it's also a wonderful love story, surrounded by chaos and cyborg mayhem. (By Kelly West)
Lethal Weapon - Martin Riggs and VictoriaYou could argue that the "love affair" resting at the heart of Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon series exists between Detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). And that’s true, but the love story I connected with – tragic though it is – was the one wounding Riggs, in the first place. It’s the love he continues to feel for his late wife, Victoria Lynn.
When we first meet Riggs, he’s a suicidal mess… a shell of a man who’d prefer to eat a bullet than live another day without his late wife. He finds a new reason to live in his eventual partnership with Murtaugh, but that pain and emotional sadness underlies the tensions of the Lethal Weapon saga, even as Riggs begins to date again. In Lethal Weapon 2, he beds the beautiful South African Rika van den Haas – only to find out that the same son of a bitch who drowns Rika also killed Vicky. Double tragedy! But Riggs learns to love again in time, marrying "infernal affairs" agent Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) in parts three and four.
The romance I remember from Lethal Weapon is the one established in the original. Perhaps its because screenwriter Shane Black knows how to sketch with credible human colors. But Gibson was at or near his best portraying the devil-may-care attitude that came with Riggs’ shattered heart. I wanted to know why this crazy man had to be registered as a lethal weapon. And when I found out why, I just wanted to give him a hug. (By Sean O'Connell)
Raising Arizona - H.I. McDunnough and EdH.I. McDunnough, the protagonist of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Raising Arizona played by Nicolas Cage, is really a ridiculous screw up. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t help but return to a life of wearing pantyhose on his head while holding up convenience store clerks with an unloaded six shooter. As bad as he is, however, his wife Ed, played by Holly Hunter, may be even worse. While it is her responsibility to hold up the law as a member of the police department, she can’t help but be drawn to H.I. and all his madcap madness. They’re a couple that is drawn together through the power of calamity, and as bizarre and ill-fitting as they may be together, they’re also one of the loving couples in cinema outside of the romance genre.
Admittedly, the relationship is one that regularly seems to be on the rocks. As much as H.I.’s recidivist ways gets under Ed’s skin, she ultimately can’t help but forgive him, because she truly understands the man inside him (and he’s a man with a heart as big as a house). Even as things turn sour, there really is an understanding between them that what they have to do is stick together. H.I. and Ed are two characters who probably should have never come together, as disaster – self-inflicted or otherwise - seems to follow them around constantly, but all the same you still can’t help that their love is one that really does last into the distant future as seen in our hero’s final dream. (-By Eric Eisenberg)
My Cousin Vinny - Vinny LaGuardia Gambini and Mona Lisa VitoMy Cousin Vinny is a trial movie. It’s the story of some innocent kids and the no-nonsense, batshit crazy attorney trying to prove that during his first real case. On its surface, the film is a modern, uproarious comedy of manners in an unusual setting. It’s a procedural-laden, foul-mouthed classic filled with intellectual chess moves and street smarts in equal doses, but beneath that gruff exterior, it’s actually a pretty touching love story between Vincent LaGuardia Gambini and Mona Lisa Vito.
He’s a personal injury attorney who needed six tries to pass the Bar. She’s an out of work hair stylist. And they both love arguing. A lot. In fact, each person is more comfortable shouting. Her, about her biological clock, not having a wedding date and his inability to share his feelings. Him, about all the pressures he’s under, the opposing lawyers and her nagging. At first, it seems like they’re the two worst human beings in the world to be together, matching tornados hellbent on destroying each other’s life, but when she gets on the witness stand and he cross-examines her at the end of the movie, it’s clear they actually like it. They’re oddly perfect for each other. The venom and aggression aren’t really ruining their lives. They’re pushing each other to achieve more.
Vincent LaGuardia Gambini and Mona Lisa Vito belong together. That might not be the central point of My Cousin Vinny, but it’s the first thing I take away on every viewing. (By Mack Rawden)
Back to the Future - George and LorraineAs it's set up in Back to the Future, George and Lorraine's love story is tied to the main conflict of the film. Marty McFly travels back through time and almost immediately derails his parents' future, consequently putting himself and his siblings' existence in jeopardy. So not only does he have to figure out how to get back to the future, he also has to make sure George and Lorraine connect and fall for one another so that they can eventually get married and have the kids they're supposed to have. But if you take a closer look at who George and Lorraine were when they're first introduced to us, both in the present 1985 and back in the 50s and who they are to each other after Marty's trip through time, Back to the Future is as much their love story as it is a thrilling adventure about a kid and a time machine.
She was an average teen girl with a bit of a wild streak. He was sci-fi geek and kind of a peeping tom. They were supposed to meet when George fell out of a tree and nearly run over by Lorraine's father. That path set them on a course for a barely-average future where they were married with kids, but disconnected and in a rut. Marty's interference throws that whole thing off course, forcing him to arrange for his parents to fall in love under other circumstances. Marty could only do so much, however. And while he may have pepped George up and staged some circumstances through which Lorraine might finally notice George, it was George's own courage and affection for Lorraine that saved the day and changed their future forever.
Forced to decide to run away or do the right thing, George stood up to Biff when he was assaulting Lorraine, and he knocked out Dixon on the dance floor too, demonstrating that he wasn't going to be bullied anymore by anyone, and that no one would come between him and Lorraine. He was the man she needed, brave and confident, but also kind. Their fated kiss at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance proved to be more magical than ever, ensuring that Lorraine was, in fact, George's density. (By Kelly West)