Rhys Graeme-Drury & Corey Hogan
For the bitter, the scorned and the plain old cynical; we’re here to provide you with some reprieve from the sentimentality and sickly sweetness of this annual day of commercial love. So how will we make this Valentine’s Day just a little bit bearable? Well, it starts with wine, or your drink of choice, and a derisive celebration of all the ridiculous clichés we’ve come to see in almost every romance film ever made. So gather your fellow non-romantics, and get ready for some serious eye-rolling and alcohol-sculling, as you take part in Hooked On Film’s Valentine’s Day drinking game.
Drink if… There is a funny or awkward first-time sex scene. Finish your drink if it’s passionate and romantic, or “perfect”
See: Don Jon
There’s nothing quite like the first time, is there? When lovelorn characters bump uglies for the first time it can go one of two ways – either with an awkward hilarity, or with intimate, romantic perfection. Don Jon contains an example of both – Jon’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) first sexual encounter with Scarlett Johansson’s blonde bimbo involves a lot of uncoordinated rubbing against and an early finish, in contrast to the affectionate love-making with Julianne Moore’s older classmate; someone he feels an emotional connection with.
Drink if… The lead character is involved in a hideously cheesy meet-cute. Twice if it’s in a coffee shop/book store/park.
See: The Holiday
We’ve all been there haven’t we? After arriving at the quaint Surrey cottage where you plan to spend a solitary Christmas season away from civilisation, it’s only to be expected that the ridiculously hunky brother of the landlord shows up out of the blue and that, naturally, he’ll be played by Jude Law. What, that hasn’t happened to you?
Drink if… The protagonist is involved in a makeover or outfit change montage.
See: Crazy Stupid Love
The makeover montage has been a romcom staple since the dawn of time. From Pretty Woman to Clueless, movie makeovers have been telling us that love only comes looking for you once you slap on a fresh outfit and get a new hair-do.
A great example comes from Dan Fogelman’s charming ensemble piece Crazy Stupid Love; the situation here sees Steve Carell play a middle-aged dweeb looking to rediscover his manhood with the help of Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a self-assured womaniser.
Drink if… The male protagonist removes his shirt. Twice if it’s Matthew McConaughey.
See: any Matthew McConaughey film predating The Lincoln Lawyer
Believe it or not, there was a time when Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey was renowned for something other than having AIDS (Dallas Buyers Club) and plummeting into a black hole (Interstellar). The year was 2009, and the superstar was coming off the back of a string of cheesy romantic comedies, usually co-starring alongside Kate Hudson; Fool’s Gold, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Surfer Dude, Failure to Launch, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner… you name it, McConaughey was in it and he was frequently sans shirt.
Drink if… Some ridiculous tragedy suddenly breaks out for the sake of extra drama
See: Any Nicholas Sparks adaptation
Every film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, from The Notebook to Dear John to The Longest Ride, contains increasingly outlandish and contrived tragedies shoehorned into the story to keep our lovers from their happily ever after, be it Alzheimer’s, PTSD, lymphoma, a car accident, a shoot-out or death in the armed services. Perhaps most ludicrous is the Miley Cyrus/Liam Hemsworth vehicle The Last Song; when things are going too well for the couple, Miley’s dad (Greg Kinnear) reveals out of the blue that he has been suffering with cancer for a long time, then promptly dies a few scenes later.
Drink if… Something or someone causes a significant rift in the relationship, and the characters part ways – temporarily of course!
See: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
This moment inevitably happens in just about every romantic movie, though particularly disastrous in FSM as Peter (Jason Segal), who has finally moved on from ex Sarah (Kristen Bell), is seduced into back into lewd sexual acts with her, thanks to a convenient change of mind. Honourably confessing this to his new flame Rachel (Mila Kunis), she nonetheless calls it quits with Peter. You can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be back together before the credits roll though…
Drink if… A couple kiss or profess their love in the middle of a rainstorm. Add a bonus shot if it’s at night or in New York.
See: About Time
The cute twist in this delightful Richard Curtis film is that it’s the day of Tim (Domnhall Gleeson) and Mary’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding and the smitten duo gets absolutely drenched mere minutes after walking down the aisle. It’s a nice refrain from the maligned and often parodied soaking midnight smooch that we’ve seen time and again.
Drink if… The protagonist receives painfully obvious relationship advice from their sassy best friend or the token minority character
See: Friends With Benefits
If you’ve seen Friends With Benefits, you’ll know that the highlight in an otherwise unremarkable raunchy rom-com is Woody Harrelson’s riotous turn as Justin Timberlake’s gay best friend, Tommy. That being said, Harrelson’s sage relationship advice on how guys and girls can never be just friends could be copied word for word into any other romcom and no one would know the difference.
Drink if… One of the character’s exes re-enters their life at a poorly-timed moment.
See: Blue Valentine.
Often, just when everything is going swimmingly for our romantic leads, an unsavoury ex-flame suddenly reappears, either provoking conflicted feelings in their old lover or simply causing trouble for the new relationship. In Blue Valentine it’s the latter, as Cindy (Michelle Williams) runs into her ex-boyfriend Bobby, with whom husband Dean (Ryan Gosling) violently fought five years earlier.
Finish your drink if… A character stops their lover from leaving at the airport.
See: Love, Actually
Just in time! When a love interest is about to board a plane and escape our protagonist’s life forever, it seems the most romantic thing they can do is to chase after them and stop them in their tracks, professing their love and convincing them to stay. The most glaringly obvious one is in rom-com magnum opus Love, Actually; wherein Sam (Thomas Sangster) evades airport security to reach his American crush Joanna (Olivia Olsen) and express his feelings, with help from his very understanding dad (Liam Neeson).
Images courtesy of Roadshow Films, United International Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures & Palace Films