You don't have to be a Hollywood box office analyst to figure out that movies are a dating medium. On Saturday night, every multiplex looks like a twentysomething Noah's Ark.
There is something romantic about sitting in the dark with your honey on one side, your butter-flavored popcorn on the other. But just how far can that romance go when you're surrounded by hundreds of strangers shooting spitballs or hurling epithets at the silver screen?
Video, however, takes the romance of the movies and adds intimacy (not to mention privacy). Face it: Curling up at home together with a videocassette is a sign that listening to answering-machine messages in front of each other is not far off. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, otherwise known as the Dating Day of Judgment, here are the 10 best movies to match your dating mood:
For the Why-Can't-We-Be-More-Than-Just-Friends Date: You've finally tired of the charade that yours is the world's first authentic platonic relationship, but you're not quite sure how to broach the issue. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY: Take it from Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal: You should always end up with the person who doesn't mind that you order everything on the side. BROADCAST NEWS: Holly Hunter makes a fatal error when she rebuffs best buddy Albert Brooks. How could you not love a man who tells you: ''I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time''?
For the Why-Don't-We-Do-It-in-the-Road Date: The sparks are flying, but they haven't quite started a fire. GIDGET: This is the original surfer-boy-meets-surfer-girl romance, with James Darren and Sandra Dee. By the time the übervirgin lands her man, you'll be so restless that a handshake could push you over the edge. 9 1/2 WEEKS: Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. Raw eggs.So much for subtlety.
For the It's-Sunday-Night-Let's-Order-in-Chinese-Food Date: If you're spending Sunday nights together, you've left the other dating fools far behind. Maybe it's time to think about The Next Step. THE THIN MAN: Myrna Loy and William Powell show with great elan that married life is just a bowl of martini olives. BAREFOOT IN THE PARK: Were Jane Fonda and Robert Redford really ever this young and sweet? Maybe newlyweds do have more fun.
For the Didn't-We-Almost-Have-It-All-And-Maybe-We-Should-Try-Again Date: We all know that breaking up is hard to do. These couples may already be too far gone, but that doesn't mean you two have to be. THE WAY WE WERE: Isn't it obvious that Redford, looking more like the Great Gatsby than ever, and Streisand, despite the unfortunate hair, would have been a hell of a lot happier if they'd ended up together? CASABLANCA: Ingrid! Get off that plane!
For the It's-Really-Over-Now Date: Can't find the right words for a graceful exit? These movies ought to get your message across loud and clear. WAR OF THE ROSES: Live vicariously through the cruelly satisfying antics of fun couple Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. Just be thankful your home life hasn't come to this. HEARTBURN: For women only. Screenwriter Nora Ephron (who also wrote the novel and has since turned director) proves that writing well is the best revenge. Having a saintly Meryl Streep play you and a bloated Jack Nicholson play your philandering husband (based on Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein) doesn't hurt either.