The best romances begin by taking a step into the dark together. So the best first date often involves watching a really great science fiction or fantasy movie — one that contains not just romance, but boundless possibility. Here are our 12 favorite "first date" movies.
1. Safety not Guaranteed
There's just one truly great story about someone responding to a personal ad and having a brilliant adventure, and it's not Must Love Dogs. In this film, Aubrey Plaza is sent to get the dirt on a guy who put an ad in the newspaper looking for someone to travel through time with him (Mark Duplass.) Instead of a story, she finds a fellow outcast who helps her confront her own issues with the past.
2. Seeking a Friend For the End of the World
Yes it's a little schmaltzy, but this moving has a pretty daring premise: What would happen to two loners searching for love in the final weeks before the world ends? It's the kind of movie that would normally be science fiction horror, with impending doom unleashing riots and mayhem. And we do see some of that — but mostly, we focus on Steve Carell, who delivers a funny/sad performance as a man who just wants to connect with another human being. That person turns out, improbably, to be Keira Knightley. Somehow their bizarre coupling works, partly because they know they won't have to worry about maintaining a long-term relationship. This is a love story that's funny, melancholy, and delightfully weird.
3. The Princess Bride
This list is in no particular order — but this movie is probably the best first-date film of all time. Sure, it's a kid-friendly movie, in which Columbo reads choice bits of an adventure story to his sick grandson. But it's also a great romance, all about the undying love between Buttercup and Wesley, with that titular "Bride" being the centerpiece of a wedding that absolutely must not go forward, no matter how much swashbuckling has to take place to prevent it.
4. Cherry 2000
This is your typical story of a man who wrecks his beloved sex doll by having sex with her in water — and then has to save her mechanical life by going on a quest for the one missing part that will repair her in the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Of course the only person who can lead him on this quest is a bounty hunter played by Melanie Griffith, in full spike-haired 1980s-era hotness. What happens when this city boy with his sex doll has to deal with a real woman? You'll find out, and love the cheesy zingers in this late-twentieth century classic.
No, not the 2000 remake with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley — hell no, in fact — but rather, the 1967 original, with the classic comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Cook is the Devil, who offers Moore seven wishes in exchange for his soul, in this theologically astute comedy. If your date doesn't get all of the sly in-jokes, that could be a bad sign. But this film's also a terrifically sardonic love story, in which Moore's character keeps trying to warp reality to win the heart of the girl he loves (Eleanor Bron), only to find her outside his grasp every time.
6. Were the World Mine
A musical romance about a teenager dealing with homophobia in a small town who stars in a high-school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. And then he discovers that he has access to the same power as the faerie Puck in the play — he can make people fall in love with the first person they see, using drops from a magic flower. Soon enough, the town is full of same-sex couples… but can our hero find true (non-magically-induced) love? It's a fantasy of gay acceptance that turns into a sweet love story.
7. Earth Girls Are Easy
This is another 1980s classic, complete with song-and-dance numbers with MTV comedian Julie Brown, and the most adorable human-alien romance ever — between real-life sweeties Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum. Aliens crash-land on Earth looking for ladies. To blend in, they need the aid of beauticians Davis and Brown, who shave all the aliens' muppet fur off to reveal Goldblum, Jim Carey, and Damon Wayans. Hijinks ensue! Including a very 80s dance club sequence. Yes, this movie has it all. Just watch it and you'll be ready to fall in love with the universe again.
8. Time After Time
In this time travel tale, HG Wells (Malcolm McDowell) actually invents a time machine. Unfortunately, his best friend (the hammily wonderful David Warner) steals it and zooms forward in time to the 1970s — which is when this movie was made. In the future, Warner reveals that he's actually Jack the Ripper and would love to get his knives into some of these groovy future ladies. Wells pursues him, and somehow meets the woman of his dreams along the way. This movie is a thriller with a sweet romantic thread.
9. Love in Space
This movie was a huge hit in China, and tells the story of three sisters looking for love in the near future — one in Hong Kong, one in Australia, and one on the International Space Station. Each has a career (including astronaut!) but each also longs for old-fashioned romance with a man who understands her. It's a light romantic comedy, whose vision of tomorrow will remind you of a William Gibson novel where cultures mix into something utterly new and completely recognizable as our own.
10. Thor: The Dark World
The second Thor outing is a great date movie, and not just because it explores the relationship between Thor and Jane Foster, and the things that keep them apart. It's also just so much crazy fun, with bonkers action sequences involving the walls of reality breaking down and loads of Tom Hiddleston eye candy. You and your date will walk out of this movie feeling as though anything is possible. Anything.
11. Kiki's Delivery Service
A young witch goes to live in a new town to begin a mandatory year of living on her own, and starts using her flying broom to create a delivery service. You'll bond over loving the cat, and you'll gain a new insight into creativity and the power of believing in yourself from Kiki's friendship with a young painter, Ursula. But there's also a really sweet romance with a boy named Tombo, who invents a flying bicycle to go with Kiki's flying broom. The sweetest movie ever, even though it goes to some kind of dark places.
Sometimes you just need a gothy story about the forbidden love between vampire and werewolf in a future world run by people who wear spandex. Full of awesome action and Kate Beckinsale in a corset, this movie is the tale of an ancient feud between the aristocratic vampires and the proletarian werewolves who once served them. Can love bring the two tribes together again? You'll find out! And maybe you'll make out, too.