Want to watch a movie with your man on Valentine's Day?
"But men don't like romance movies," say many women. Think again. They just have to be the right kind.
Common threads of a romantic movie a man will watch: The screenplay is written by men, the film is told from the man's perspective and the male lead behaves like a man would in real life and the ending of the film is redemptive. The male lead learns a valuable lesson from the experience. We men relate to these characters and stories.
Here are seven.
Plot: Rick (Humphrey Bogart), an owner of a trendy, upscale bar during World War II, turns cynical after being burned by his first love, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). While sneaking heroes and patriots out of occupied territories, his love for Ilsa takes a new form.
Why men like it: Choosing your comrades, your country and the survival of the entire world instead of the girl who left you... that's a man's man. A hero.
Man Moment #1: When Ilsa pulls out that pistol.
Why that's a man's moment: A woman holds a gun and knows how to use it. We men tend to think that's hot. Especially when she's screaming truth and putting him in his rightful place. He's being dominated in the right kind of way. He's not use to that. He likes it.
Man Moment #2: Rick sees the gun and says, "Go ahead and shoot. You'll be doing me a favor."
Why that's a man's moment: Because if our first love did to us what Ilsa did to Rick, we'd say the same thing. "Just shoot me."
500 DAYS OF SUMMER
Plot: Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young professional fresh out of college, falls in love with Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a girl who uses and leaves him.
Why men like it: We were actually boys at one time in our lives and we learned Tom's lessons the hard way. The movie is a coming of age story for us.
Man Moment #1: At the park bench when Summer tells Tom she never felt for him the same way she now feels for her husband.
Why that's a man moment: She twists the blade, reminding him of the harsh reality. "We've been there too, Tom," we say, like consoling a kid brother. "It's okay. Now, sober up."
Man Moment #2: Tom's architecture meeting where he meets Autumn.
Why that's a man moment: What man doesn't fantasize about a moment when he finally did or will put the past behind him, and later, meets a woman just as attractive, but only smarter, friendlier and a better fit? It's like that scene in Gladiator when Maximus leads the victory in the exhibition fight, removes the mask and tells Commodus, "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius." Then he enters the dungeons while the other gladiators stand and chant his name. Hans Zimmer brings it home with that music.
THE NOTEBOOK (Warning. No man will tell his friends he likes this film.)
Plot: Noah (Ryan Gosling) will stop at nothing, NOTHING to be reunited with the only woman he ever loved, Allie (Rachel McAdams). He'll even build her a two story southern mansion worthy of a place in Southern Living.
Why men like it #1: Noah doesn't pout his life away. He builds something for Allie and people from all over the world want to purchase it. They even offer more than his asking price. He responds by getting drunk, thinks of burning down the house, and then chases yuppies off his yard with a loaded shotgun. Only a woman can do that to a man and every man has been that angry at least once in his life.
Why men like it #2: Everyone needs a home. And every man, left or right brained, can build a home if he learns how to use the tools and read the blueprints. That's a universal act of love.
Man Moment: The letter Noah writes Allie telling her he's not bitter anymore. Not only is it Nicholas Sparks' writing at its finest, but if it's your man's first time to watch the film, you might want to have a ready tissue for him.
Why that's a man moment: When a man decides to put his first love behind him, it's the most sobering, real moment of his life. (Except the first time he wakes with a hangover.)
Plot: Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a young professional, travels through time to find a girlfriend.
Why men like it: What man doesn't love time travel movies? If he believes he'll be single the rest of his life, he's fantasizing about traveling back into time to repair that one relationship where the girl got away.
Man moment #1: After Tim meets his first love, Mary (Rachel McAdams), he travels through time to relive his first sexual encounter with her over and over and over and over.
Why that's a man moment: Must I explain this?
Man moment #2: Tim and his dad have a warm father and son moment.
Why that's a man moment: Because the father figure in a man's life, whether biological or not, is the most important relationship he will ever have.
Anti Plot: Simultaneous stories where each character is at least two degrees of separation from the others.
Why men like it: Every story is real, entertaining and the characters we meet remind us of someone we know and love.
Man moment #1: A divorced and lonely man, Jamie (Colin Firth), learns Portuguese so he can propose to his temp maid.
Why that's a man moment: He's dumped by this wife. Then pursued by a gorgeous girl who's a much better fit for him and treats him well.
Man moment #2: The British guy, Colin (Kris Marshall), believes he'll get laid if he just goes to America, sits at a bar and speaks with his British accent.
Why that's a man moment: He has no clue what he's doing. Neither do we. But it turns out well for him. So we can't help but congratulate him with a " 'at a boy ol' chap " in our best British accent.
Plot: William (Hugh Grant), a nice guy who owns a book shop, falls in love with Anna (Julia Roberts), a movie star. Anna struggles to return that love consistently.
Why men like it: We've all crushed on a movie star. If, given the opportunity, who wouldn't take a date with Emma Watson? (Emma, if you're reading, of course your agent has permission to contact me.)
Man Moment #1: When William's roommate, Spike, continues eating the mayonnaise in the jar, even after he's been told it's not actually yogurt.
Why that's a man moment: We all have a friend like that. I knew a guy who ate Vienna Sausages on peanut buttered bread. No joke.
Man Moment #2: William tells Anna "No" after she reveals her love for him because she's broken his heart for the nth time. Spike later calls William a dirty word for turning Anna down.
Why that's a man moment: Sometimes we need a friend to slap us across the head.
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
Plot: After Charles (Hugh Grant) meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell) at a wedding, he waits years to be reunited with her.
Why men like it: Most of us have waited for a certain woman to come to her senses and we know it doesn't always work out.
Man Moment #1: Charles introduces himself and an elderly gentleman replies, "Don't be ridiculous. Charles died twenty years ago!" When Charles suggests he's a different man, the elderly gentleman retorts, "Are you telling me I don't know my own brother?!"
Why that's a man moment: One of the funniest scenes in rom com history.
(PS - About Time, Love Actually, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and A Funeral were all written by Richard Curtis.)
Make sure to check out The Mason Jar, a coming of age love story told from the male perspective by James Russell Lingerfelt. The novel helps readers find healing after severed relationships.
The Mason Jar movie is scheduled for pre-production in 2015, and will be directed in the same dramatic and romantic tones as The Notebook (2004) and Pride & Prejudice (2005). Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for updates.