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Horta's View from the Stalls: Making The Move With A Movie Date

June 2nd, 2003

You are about to ask out that someone special whom you've had your eye on for quite a while now. You're pretty sure they will say yes... your self-esteem is riding on that assumption. It has taken you a little better then a month to work up the nerve to even approach them... and now it's time to make your move.

But wait... let's not be hasty... you're going to have to talk to this person first, you're going to have to work your way into asking them out, and when you do, you should have some idea of where you'll be going. You'll need to have some idea of what they will enjoy. You have to essentially plan your evening just right so that you have something to talk about, have something worth remembering, and, if all goes well, an opening to ask them out for that second date.

If I may be so presumptuous, may I suggest the somewhat clichéd, but always reliable, dinner and a movie?

With an emphasis on the movie part of that equation.

Common in formula, yet complex both in execution and repercussion, the movie outing is a staple in the American Diet that is the dating ritual. And if pulled off correctly, the movie date can be a most effective tool in making a night with someone special, something great... as long as you don't screw it up...

The Smooth Transition Into Asking Them Out

If you have two dangling brass spheres the size of boulders hanging in front your kegel muscle, then take the blunt approach to asking out your heart's desire. Something like:

"Hi, I think you're attractive, I know you're single, and I would like to take you out so that I can get to know you better. May I inquire whether or not you're free for a movie this weekend?"

However, if you're like the rest of humanity and you don't set off airport metal detectors with your crotch full of nerve and audacity, you need to do the low confrontation, set yourself up with a way out opening. Here are a couple of non-threatening lines:

"Hi, how are you? What did you do this weekend... Really, you did? Well, I just saw <The Right Movie>, and it was GREAT! Have you seen it? No...? Well we will just have to rectify that situation. How about dinner and a movie - my treat?"

If they say yes, but they have seen the movie you just inquired about, have a back up movie that is similar or better yet, a similar new weekend opener. This will provide you with the alternate line:

"Well what did you think? Did you like it? You did? Well there is another one similar to that film coming out this weekend... are you game?"

OR

"Well what did you think? Did you like it? No you didn't? Well there is film opening up this weekend that you may enjoy more... are you game?"

Now, you're obviously not going to use these lines verbatim, they're more intended to be guidelines when preparing your own mental script that fits your situation. But I think it's evident that the act of asking out someone is a lot easier and not so formal when using the movie opening. It's a dating medium that can be worked into a routine conversation casually and without the concern of seeming too eager and oh-so-desperately interested.

Dinner And A Movie Or, A Movie and Dinner?

To the movie and or dating laymen, the dilemma of what should come first, the movie or the dinner, is as mundane and as relevant as the chicken and the egg question. However, there are pros and cons to both, and this decision shouldn't be taken lightly. With thought to your own personal dating strengths and situation here are just a few pros and cons to either scenario:

Movie and Then Dinner

Pro: Going to the movie first means you only have to think of drive time conversation. Afterwards, a good film, or even a horrible film will give you lots to talk about over dinner. If your conversation skills are on par with Frankenstein, you should definitely plan your date accordingly.

Pro: By leaving your dinner for last, the effects of any alcohol consumed won't be wasted while watching a movie. Do you really want to burn that buzz off with a Ben Affleck flick? If you don't drink at all, no worries. Many foods are considered aphrodisiacs and are known for releasing certain mood altering endorphins. Again, they do so for only a limited amount of time. Better to be walking your date to their door or car when the chemical stimulants are at their best.

Pro: Filling up your date at the concession stand CAN be cheaper then filling up at most restaurants. If you are a bit of a tightwad, then this can be seen as the perfect opportunity to stuff your date on a $4 bag of popcorn. During dinner, a salad will replace the lobster, and a dessert afterwards will almost certainly be turned away! GO CHEAPSKATE! GO!

Pro:If the movie is really good, then your date will unequivocally see the start of your date as good. By choosing a movie that you know will be a winner, you set a mood that is certain to follow through the rest of the evening. With a good sense of humor, even a box office loser can provide you with enough conversation to carry you through the remainder of your evening.

Con: If you're looking to get a little smooch during your movie, forget it. The movie first scenario puts you in a theater fairly soon after you two meet and you'll be seen as too aggressive or too easy should you decide to try anything. Worse yet, you may find that your date actually wanted to see the movie you paid for, in which case you'll now appear outright annoying. Not the schedule to go with should you want to use the theater as a potential grope room.

Con: A date could equate a bad movie to bad company. You could try to make a comeback during dinner, but if you went with the Movie-Dinner schedule because of a lack of opening and or conversation skills, then your successful comeback is as likely as Vanilla Ice's.

Con: If you made reservations at a restaurant directly after your movie, then you have to play the role of timekeeper when it comes to the date. Having to watch the clock constantly so that you can catch your flick, get through traffic, and make your dinner reservation is an additional stress you may not want and it may make you seem anal retentive.

Con: Most flicks leave you with an ending to reflect upon no matter what the genre. The wind down tempo of a films dénouement after what can be an emotional roller coaster would require you to step up the mood as soon as it lets out or you can end up with an emotionally exhausted partner. A nice big dinner afterwards would then leave you with a sleepy date.

Dinner And Then The Movie

Pro: Movies have multiple convenient start times. Leaving only a dinner reservation to worry about, your date will undoubtedly seem more relaxed, less forced and you will have the appearance of being cool and collected. If you drink, you'll also be able to let the alcohol wear off after dinner should you have had a little too much. An important factor to keep in mind if you are driving to the theater: nothing ruins a first date like a DUI. Remember, going out on a first date, no matter how long you may have known the person, puts you on a pedestal of judgment and as the old saying goes... you only get to make a first impression once.

Pro: If you're a great opener and your dinner goes well, I can think of a worse place to take a date then a nice dark theater. Who knows? If you play your hand right, you may not even get to see the whole flick.

Pro: A movie is an easy and effective closer to a date that starts off well. If you choose the right movie, you can almost guarantee at least a peck at the door and a second date. For example, if you choose a great romantic comedy for your movie date, then the two of you will leave feeling romantic and euphoric about love and relationships. Now do you understand where the term "Date Movie" came from? Let's not forget that assuming the date goes well thus far, previews are a great opener for date number two.

Pro: A movie almost always leaves people feeling the need to talk more. Whether it be about the film itself, or some of the situations the film dealt with. With dinner out of the way, the only place to have that conversation is either back at one of your place's, or in your favorite coffee shop. Either way, the evening will last a bit longer and you'll both be left wanting more.

Con: A bad movie can ruin the mood for a bit afterwards. If you put in some hard work to make the first part of the evening go well, you may not want to leave it to TriStar Pictures or Universal to cap it off.

Con: The intoxicating effects of those 2 Long Island Ice teas, or the slice of heavenly chocolate cake will be long gone after the movie. Better try to sneak in a flask or shove some Raisonettes down your date's throat... assuming they have room after that lobster or filet mignon dinner you just flipped for.

Con: A late dinner and then a late movie, makes for a late night. If you're hoping for any interaction afterwards, you're going to have to make an early start of it. Otherwise, when all is said and done, it's going to be night-night time as opposed to night-cap time. If you're young enough where you have to have a guardian pick you up, then you're really out of luck because parents know for sure when a movie should let out. Sorry, it's limited or no hand-holding time when your flick lets out.

Con: If the first part of your date goes all wrong, you will probably forget about the movie and miss out on a flick you may have wanted to see. Worse yet, you may have to sit through and bear the movie with your dud instead of your Milk-Duds.

The Right Movie For The Right Effect

So you have decided on the date format and your now left with making the movie selection. It is important that you find out what films your date has already seen. This is something you may already know, or something you plan to learn when opening up with your date conversation. Here is a break down of good date movies, assuming your goal is to work up to a second date, or maybe even work up to second base.:

Romantic Comedy: A little bit of love, a little bit of humor and there you have the Romantic Comedy. Not too heavy in plot or details, Meg Ryan has the market cornered in this category. If you're hoping to get your date in the right mood for love, then this is the ticket. Here are some examples of current movies that fit that bill: Down With Love, Bringing Down The House, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days

Comedy: Lots of humor and levity, a really good comedy can leave you and a date feeling euphoric about life. Consequentially it can leave your date feeling euphoric about you and your relationship possibilities. You can't go wrong with leaving the theaters all smiles and laughs. Here are some current movies that fit the bill: Bruce Almighty, Malibu's Most Wanted, Head of State

Foreign Film: Going to a movie like this will also encompass other mentioned genres, with a couple of important bonuses. These flicks will make you seem worldly, open minded, and maybe even a bit more intelligent and complex. Foreign films tend to show on quainter, cozier theaters with smaller crowds in nice college towns. If you're blessed, you'll find a sweet Foreign Romantic Comedy; a sure date pleaser! As luck would have it, one is out now: Bend It Like Beckham (Better see this film soon. It's so popular and doing so well, that it is becoming mainstream.)

Action Film: Yes, I know it seems odd, but ladies, if you want to get that special man into the mood, nothing makes them hot like big explosions, fight scenes, car chases, and, oh yes, the dozens of women who will undoubtedly be featured in skin-tight less-than-nothing outfits. On the plus side, there is usually some type of love story buried in for giggles: X2: Xmen United, Matrix: Reloaded, The Italian Job

Horror/Thriller Films: A head buried in your chest, your arm being used like a blind fold, you'll be hands on with your date when you take them to see a non-coronary friendly movie. Ladies, if you're taking a guy out on the date and he is using you like a comfort blanket, then you better cut your losses and end the outing ASAP. Gentlemen, make sure that your date agrees to see a movie like this. Otherwise, you could simply be seen as a sadistic ass and the last grab she will give you is the one to pull you out of the theater so that you can take her home!: House of a 1,000 Corpses, Phone Booth, Identity

Drama/Tear Jerker: Guys, this is a good film to try and sit through if you're the one treating. The comfort and support you can offer to your lady friend will take you a long way in a short amount of time. Don't expect too much in the way of lubby dubby affection though. Chances are your date will be emotionally spent afterwards. I try to sit through them, but it's snooze city all the way. In fact, I dozed off just thinking about... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

There are some other types of movies out there for your enjoyment. Musicals, drama, sci-fi, etc. etc.; You also may not be a huge fan of any the movie genres I listed above. But remember, you're trying to create a dating ambiance around you and your evening and you can always save those other films for that second date or for when you're by yourself. Build a positive image foundation now, and then move in with a film just for enjoyment later on... when you're not being graded.

At The Concession Stand and In The Theater

Time to hit the concession stand and to take your seats.

Here are some quick rules when laying the ground work for a cozy showing:

  1. Let your date choose where you sit. But if you have any influence, choose the love seats available in newer theaters, or a seat up against the back and/or side wall for partial privacy (Don’t be obvious or disrespectful).
  2. Spring for two separate drinks, let your date order the candy, but ALWAYS share an extra large popcorn. This will give you a convenient excuse to cuddle together as you both eat from that large bucket. If your date doesn't like popcorn, try sharing Nachos or some other large snack item.
  3. The old yawn and arm scoop maneuver went out with duck tail hair dos and Spike Lee Films. If you feel like your date would be receptive to an arm around them during the movie, just go for it. If you're not sure, simply ask in an innocent manner or, better yet, put your pop corn in their lap and rest your arm on their head rest as you lean over to share. When an appropriate part in the movie presents itself, go ahead and rest it on a shoulder for comfort and support. Men will do well to simply present enough gap between your side and you're body to your date, so that she can hug your bicep as you watch a movie. This too can expand into a full arm scoop. Ladies, if your looking for some closeness, don't be afraid to grab a hand, arm or a thigh depending on how bold you feel. If you're afraid of just doing it, wait for a scene where you would understandably need the support.
  4. Most importantly, be yourself. There is no need to be anything more than polite and relaxed when on this type of date.
  5. Don't be too aggressive. Remember, you asked this person out to see a great movie. Unless you are 100% sure otherwise, being overly touchy-feely can make you look like an unscrupulous cad.
  6. Verbally take note of the upcoming previews. Listen to what piques your date's interest. Really look for movies that are in theaters now and see what your partner thinks. If they seem interested and the night has went well so far, make plans for another movie date later down the road.

Capping Off The Evening

No date plan is a sure thing. Time and effort has to be devoted to creating the right atmosphere for your evening out. However, by going with the time-tested format of dinner and a movie (or movie and some dinner), and by understanding the complexities of a movie date, you can feel in control and subsequently relaxed, which will allow you to really enjoy yourself. And with the right movie, the right timing, and the right attitude, there isn't any reason one couldn't parlay their single date into a long term relationship. But remember, the most important thing you can do on any date, is to be yourself. If everything goes well and the relationship becomes long term, your love interest will have to meet the real you sooner or later... because no movie can distract from the romantic drama that are the lives you live.

George W. Horta III