Valentine’s day is almost upon us: the day for him and her, the day of togetherness. The day of flowers and chocolates and gifts and sharing popcorn and watching films together. The day that thousands of men are dragged to the nearest cinema or the nearest sofa to watch such romantic treats as The Notebook, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Vow, 27 Dresses or even, funnily enough, Valentine’s Day. Hours of torture, sitting through a smorgasbord of emotions and tears, trying desperately to both stay awake and retain the well-practised look of interest at the presumably shocking turn of events on the screen. This year, this feeling of despair for us guys will be further compounded by the knowledge that Die Hard 5 will be on screens the same time as Rachel McAdams runs through the rain again, that John Mclane is out there kicking all kinds of ass while we have to hear the squeals as Ryan Gosling swans around on screen. No offense to Gosling, I actually liked him in Drive.
So, what to do? How do we please both parties? The answer is to simply create the perfect Valentine’s film, and luckily for all of you, I have the answer.
Firstly, we need our actors, the leading man and woman who will drive our film. Eye candy is the order of the day; nobody is looking for serious acting chops for this, they just want copious sex appeal. So two ridiculously good looking actors to please both him and her, to keep everyone interested. So something like Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson, or Brad and Angelina, something like that.
We need a situation. For those who prefer the traditional V-Day film, we need emotional turmoil, a breezy, superficial look at the dynamics of either a budding relationship or the sudden breakdown of a solid one. We need some kind of rift, some kind of plot device that throws our lead actors together or away from each other, so that they realise the power of love (or something like that). For those who despise this kind of stuff, we need to take the opportunity to use this plot device to blow things up, to go on a secret mission where death is around every corner and walking away from explosions with a wry smile is the norm. And because we are not sexist, it shouldn’t just be the man having all the fun. Our female lead should also engage in various explosive hijinks, both thrilling the audience and highlighting gender equality.
What next? Ah yes, the kiss. This can either be the first kiss, or the break-up kiss, or the make-up kiss, but damnit, we need a kiss in the film. Forget the realism; all that matters is that it is fraught with sexual tension, that the chemistry between the two actors sizzles. Tenderness if you like that kind of thing, raw animalistic drive if you hate Katherine Heigl’s catalogue of films. So some kind of divide on that front then, something to keep both camps happy.
And finally the ending. Happy ending obviously, people don’t like feeling depressed on the 14th of February. We need our leads to finally find each other, or forgive each other; we need them to see that they are not half of what they could be when they are on their own. They need to find the true value of their relationship, they need to overcome their mid-film obstacle, which if you are like me, would be some kind of terrorist attack and not something Nicholas Sparks related.
With all of this in mind, the conclusion is clear. Mr and Mrs Smith is categorically the ultimate Valentine’s Day film.