Looking for Valentine's Day movies the whole family can enjoy? Josie Ortega lists winning classics, romances, and comedies for Family Movie Night on Valentine's Day!
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For our best Valentine’s date on record, pre-kids, my husband and I caught a screening of The Princess Bride at a local cinema and draft house. It was a unique outing for the holiday: out of the ordinary, but still low pressure and casual. In other words: a way to do something fun and special without feeling bad for not buying each other expensive jewelry.
Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, at its many different ages and stages. It's also a great day to get out your old wedding photos and let the kids pore over them! Here’s hoping that our kids will live many years before feeling any kind of Valentine’s Day romantic pressure or disappointment. (And, sorry not sorry, may they live their entire lives without watching Garry Marshall's worst movie, Valentine's Day. Sadly, an ensemble cast of greats—Hector Elizondo! Julia Roberts! Bradley Cooper! Jamie Foxx! Even Shirley MacLaine!—somehow adds up to even less than the sum of its parts.)
For a holiday family movie night, especially on a rather fraught holiday like Valentine’s Day, we’re after a nice sense of occasion, without overthinking or fostering high expectations. We want to enjoy a fun-filled love story, a feel-good rom-com, or a star-studded black and white comedy classic.
So grab a heart-shaped box of chocolates to share, some pink and red paper to write love notes to every member of the family, and choose a more or less romantic movie for a Valentine’s Day Family Movie Night!
I Love Lucy marathon. We’re starting out with an old television show rather than a movie, technically. But, I tell you the truth, it’s still so funny. Friends of ours were RAs in a DC intern housing building, and they developed a tradition of opening up their home on Valentine’s Day for the college-aged students to come eat, hang out, and catch a few I Love Lucy episodes. It hit a completely perfect, upbeat Valentine’s Day vibe. The episode “Job Switching”, where Lucy goes to work in the chocolate factory, is a must-watch.
Sabrina. What a classic, in which Audrey Hepburn portrays the chauffeur’s daughter Sabrina, who’s head over heels in love with the son of a wealthy New York family. I learned to crack eggs from watching Sabrina at her Parisian cooking school. “One two three, crack! New egg!” (Another good option: the 1995 remake in which Julia Ormonde, Harrison Ford, and Greg Kinnear star.)
Roman Holiday. You’ve got a flawless Audrey Hepburn as a princess who escapes to see what a normal life is like. And you've got hardened reporter Gregory Peck, whose voice makes me weak at the knees. And, of course, “Rome. By all means, Rome."
Honorable mentions: See the classic romantic comedies I recommended in this date night post, which could work for the whole family, too. A few of them—including the incomparable Some Like It Hot—are available on Amazon Prime.
Pride and Prejudice (1995).The six-hour BBC miniseries remains my favorite version of Pride and Prejudice, with its faithfulness to the text and its lovely Elizabeth Bennet. Mr. Collins’ cringe-worthy dancing is emblazoned in my memory. Not to mention Colin Firth as Darcy, famously diving into a pond and emerging in his soaking wet shirt and trousers. (Not in the book.)
Pride and Prejudice (2005). Good options abound! The Keira Knightley version works for me, too. It’s a visual treat with beautiful music—and also a very attractive Darcy walking across the lea at dawn. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Bride and Prejudice. Friends: run, don’t walk, to find a copy of this movie, which is a modern-day Bollywood meets Hollywood version of Pride and Prejudice. Gurinder Chadha, the director of Bend It Like Beckham, created this gem of a film that deploys Indian, British, and American cultural clashes in service of Austen’s plot. The music and dancing is such fun; my kids are obsessed with this movie. It’s so very charming.
And for those of us who aren’t familiar with the Indian film industry, Bride and Prejudice offers a rare English-language opportunity to enjoy a performance by Aishwarya Rai, arguably the most beautiful woman in the world, and certainly one of the planet’s most influential celebrities.
Romeo and Juliet (Leo version!). Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes watching each other through the fish tank, while Des’ree sings “Kissing You” — that's gotta be the purest, loveliest depiction of Love at First Sight in history. Or perhaps I believe it to be so because Baz Luhrmann’s zanily gorgeous adaption of Romeo and Juliet came out in theaters when I was in sixth grade, precisely the time to form my ideas about romance. The movie is quite violent and intense, at times—faithful to Shakespeare’s story! So probably best for older kids and teens.
West Side Story. Take that tragic tale, and drop it into the gang-contested streets of New York. And add choreography. Everyone should see the 1961 film that breaks style barriers and sets precedents for all the movie musicals that follow it.
Princess Bride. Buttercup seems to have lost her one true love, but don’t worry. Westley is only *mostly* dead. Truly, this functions as a year-round family movie night pick. There’s that one potentially scary interlude in the Fire Swamp, one scary dream, one curse word, and one anatomical reference, easily muted or strategically coughed over. Parents love the humor, while kids love the swashbuckling action and engaging characters.
I hope my children don’t have dates on Valentine’s Day until they reach 37 years of age. They'll believe that every citizen across the land commemorates V-Day by having a movie night and eating chocolate with Mom and Dad. JK but seriously. As the daughter of a father who sent me flowers in college on February 14, and who sat with me in high school and watched the six-hour Pride and Prejudice, I think Valentine's Day can be a great opportunity for father-daughter bonding in particular. Dads, teach those princesses how they’re supposed to be treated!
For both sons and daughters, watching these movies together, we may learn:
What are your favorite movies to watch around Valentine's Day? Share in the comments, and schedule your next Family Movie Night using FamilyApp!