A Mix Tape of Roses and Violets

A Round-Up of Valentine’s Day Hits (and Misses)


Published February 4, 2010


Watch This

  • “Singin’ in the Rain” (1951): You can never go wrong with a classic, and this musical is as classical as they come. Big production numbers and gorgeous colors highlight Gene Kelly’s romance with Debbie Reynolds. Kelly’s drenched dance in the title number remains arguably the most fantastic musical moment in film history. For sheer happiness, this movie is hard to beat.

Don’t Watch This

  • “The Ugly Truth” (2009): This movie exemplifies the problems with today’s romantic comedies. It debases the practice of flirtation by using vulgar slapstick routines instead of old-fashioned wordplay. An appealing couple would have made this more tolerable, but a stiff Katherine Heigl and a barely amusing Gerard Butler are not the ones to do that. It is probably not a bad enough movie that it would raise any arguments, but recommending it may lead your significant other to question your taste in cinema.

An Unusual Choice

  • “WALL-E” (2008): Look past this film’s unparalleled animation and environmental message, and you will find one of the most sincere love stories ever written. This tale of two robots is mostly wordless, allowing the characters to articulate their emotions solely through expressions and sounds. Despite these limited means, WALL-E and EVE’s relationship has a visceral kind of attraction that wordier films often lack. This film is full of simple, unadorned emotion that is both marvelously touching and unexpectedly thrilling.


Watch This

  • “Pushing Daisies” (2007-2009): This prematurely cancelled series (available on DVD) combines many different genres, which are held together by the engaging love story between Ned, a man who can raise the dead, and Charlotte, his revived girlfriend. The caveat with Ned’s power is that touching dead things a second time results in permanent death, so he spends every waking moment taking precaution to not directly touch Charlotte. This suspenseful element, in addition to the characters’ cute banter, keeps the relationship interesting from episode to episode.

Don’t Watch This

  • Any serious news program: Valentine’s Day is all about love, and nothing kills the mood like cold reality. Therefore, if you do not want your date spoiled by anything like war, disease, economic crisis and general misfortune, avoid most forms of journalistic programming. Exceptions like “Entertainment Tonight,” “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” are light and/or funny enough to keep spirits high. Anything less entertaining can potentially ruin your evening.

An Unusual Choice

  • “Futurama” (1999-2003, 2008-present): One of TV’s geekiest sitcoms is chock full of sweetness thanks to the decidedly one-sided relationship between Fry and Leela. Starting in the show’s third season, Fry tries desperately to win Leela’s heart, and his sincere yet misguided attempts are always fun to watch. He fails so often that the rare times he impresses her become especially satisfying. “Futurama” may be best known for its unusual humor, but the love story is what gives the show its appeal.


Listen to This

  • “The Way You Look Tonight”: Any version of Jerome Kern’s song will do, but Fred Astaire’s rendition from the movie “Swing Time” will always be the definitive cut. While not as playful as his professional recording, it is a luminous performance that elevates a pretty song to a heavenly declaration. The “Swing Time” version is available on the album “Ultimate Legends: Fred Astaire.”

Don’t Listen to This

  • “I Honestly Love You”: Originally sung by Olivia Newton-John in 1974, this song sounds like a perfect Valentine’s Day song from the title alone. However, the lyrics paint a picture of unfulfilled or unreturned love. Passages like “Maybe it was better left unsaid” show that the singer’s wish is not meant to be, a realization that is even sadder when delivered by Peter Allen’s plaintive vocals. This song may convince couples to appreciate what they have, but it is a downer nonetheless.

An Unusual Choice

  • “Old Devil Moon”: The recently closed Broadway revival of “Finian’s Rainbow” has just released its cast album, which features Cheyenne Jackson and Kate Baldwin singing this old chestnut. These two stars perfectly perform the type of old-fashioned crooning that you just don’t hear anymore. This track will give your Valentine’s Day a jolly dose of nostalgic romance.