See The Sunrise
Where else to start but Orlando Bloom. His best moments tend to be ones where his wooden acting is what makes the role work (see his unblinking elf in Lord of the Rings, and not much else). He’s the IKEA cabinet of actors ““ white and non descript, and disappears into the background. His acting can literally can be improved by ratcheting up an Allen Key. All of which is a problem when you’re a leading man. His range of romantic faces stretches to two ““ a sort of mild, hopeful smile like someone who’s just solved a kid’s crossword but cheated. Then a painful, conflicted expression like someone who’s just sat on a thumb tack but realizes it might be a turn on. It’s not that he doesn’t have chemistry it’s more that he barely exists.
Elizabethtown itself is a real mess of a script; every scene drags on aimlessly and pointlessly. Kirsten Dunst does her best to be perky and fun but she’s acting next to paper. The scene where they drive their cars very, very slowly toward each other, talk on their phones, get out of the car, walk very slowly over and then awkwardly hang up is like watching a long, drawn out banking transaction. It ends with them watching the sunrise and mumbling banal dialogue ““ at least the view of nature is good.
9. Jerry Maguire
You Had Me At Hello
It’s hard to single out what makes this romantic scene so bad. Perhaps its the sheer staginess of THAT line ““ “You had me at hello”. It’s so toe-curlingly wincing that you’re surprised Tom Cruise doesn’t retract his entire speech and pull out the lawyer clause: “In the event of you saying something idiotic the above is nullified immediately.” It’s also trying so hard to be the BIG romantic scene that you can sniff its whiffy desperation a mile off. It’s forced and stagey. Renee Zellweger does her pouty, sucking-on-a-turnip expression and Tom Cruise acts drunk and lordly. Both would be acceptable in entirely different movies but together they’re the equivalent of mixing turpse with carrot juice, and not in a good way. In some countries saying ‘you had me at hello’ is grounds for immediate deportation.
8. Natural Born Killers
Eeny Meeny Miny Mo
Mickey and Mallory. Two names that sound straight out of an 80s sitcom probably one where Nancy Reagan turns up to preach against drugs. Quentin Tarantino used these characters to play a kind of Badlands couple ““ two kids who get their kicks out of serial killing. The fact that loveable Woody from Cheers is one of the two killers makes it all the more twisted. Their first scene together, where they wipe out a whole cafÃ© of bikers and then play ‘eeny meeny miny mo’ to choose who gets to live and tell their names to the media, is chillingly cold. However, this also serves as one of the most romantic scenes in the film ““ they hug and kiss at the end of the mayhem and earnestly confess their love. As romantic scenes go it’s up there with the bombing of Dresden. Why say it with chocolate when you can say it with redneck corpses?
7. Body of Evidence
It wouldn’t be a top ten list of bad romantic scenes without either Madonna or Ashton Kutcher. The two have never starred together in a movie ““ that would clearly cause a rip in the space time continuum – but it would make for a truly magical experience of awfulness. It was too hard to choose just one Ashton Kutcher movie ““ he really needs his own feature, but this film is probably the stand out bad Madonna flick (Swept Away aficionados may disagree). She plays a femme fatale who enjoys S&M and may have killed her lover by having too much sex. So no great departure for her. In all the classic film noirs such as The Postman Always Rings Twice or Dial M for Murder there is always some clear chemistry between the two leads despite, or even because, of the predicament they’re in. In this case there’s almost nothing.
Madonna’s romantic scene with Willem Dafoe begins where she ambushes him from behind and puts her arms around his neck then briskly pulls his shirt off. It’s very Madonna ““ she’s in charge the whole way. Then she pours dripping wax over him and sneers at him: “Are you scared?” There’s so little chemistry between the two of them that none of it feels sexy or erotic ““ it’s more like watching an instructional, how-to S&M video. It’d be better watching Babestation Cams for an erotic experience. vAs a metaphor for Madonna’s career and her dominance in a male industry, it certainly succeeds. As a Lana Turner -style sexy thriller it’s like watching gym teachers mate.
6. Star Wars: Attack of The Clones
Say It With Sand
All you need to know about this truly embarrassing scene is the following quote from Anakin Skywalker: “I don’t like sand. It’s course and rough and it gets everywhere.” And this is sold as the killer, knockout line that will sweep Natalie Portman off her feet. Apparently in the director’s cut he waxes lyrical about the side effects of sunburn. Hayden Christensen’s delivery is extremely awkward, verging on bizarre, but to be fair he’s been given lines that corporate OH&S manuals would wince at. At least we’ve been spared a torrid Jar Jar Binks romance. For now.
5. The Love Guru
Unlock the Chastity Belt
It’s all too easy to mock this film. However that’s for a good reason: it’s a very expensive, terribly unfunny, vanity project. It’s like one of those end-of-year corporate Christmas parties. Darren from Accounts shows a mildly amusing film where he and other staff all lip sync to a rock classic. Except The Love Guru was a big budget Hollywood film that should never have progressed past mildly amusing sketch. The final big romantic scene sees Mike Myers ask Jessica Alba to unhook his chastity belt so they can do a Bollywood dance to Steve Miller’s “The Joker”. Yes, that last sentence actually happened. Jessica Alba belongs in Michael Bay films where she does her best work acting around CGI animation, not human beings. She also can’t do comedy. Which is fortunate as The Love Guru is like a long lost relative of comedy ““ a sort of embarrassing, inbred relative that you don’t invite over for dinner. To envision it a little funnier – imagine Mike had a genital piercing and his chastity belt got… Stuck, apparently this actually happens in real life though, so less funny, more eye-watering pain, for those that enjoy the use of chastity belts might want to read up on this article https://lockthecock.com/blogs/chastity-fun/male-chastity-and-genital-piercings.
The Romantic Abusive Phone Call
This indie masterpiece from Todd Solondz, brilliant in nearly all respects, has some of the least romantic scenes you’ll ever encounter through its parade of lonely freaks and frankly, criminal sexual deviants. Probably the scenes with the disturbed Allen stand most out there; fabulous pieces of black comedy, but as romance? The late and great Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Allen. He’s a sad sack, call centre operative who makes violent and sexually abusive calls to his neighbour, the sexy and pretentious author, Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle). It’s dialogue such as this when he rings her and anonymously screams: “You are empty, you are a zero, you are a black hole and I’m gonna f**k you so bad you’ll be coming out of your ears” ““ that make this scene the Death Star of romantic. She actually calls back and wants him to have sex with her, finding his violent, yet real abusiveness an authentic turn on. Needless to say, in a film called “Happiness” where the inverted commas couldn’t be more ironic, their relationship doesn’t work out.
Scorning this movie is like kicking sand into the face of a small puppy ““ everyone’s done it to the point where you feel sorry for the poor, defenseless creature, but then you remember: hang on, it’s not a small puppy but a massively expensive project built on the hubris of its two co-stars, J-Lo and Ben Affleck. So then you kick some more sand. What makes this movie especially bad is that although both J-Lo and Ben were a hot couple at the time, there’s virtually no chemistry between them. The scene where J-Lo lies on the bed and commands Ben to “Gobble my turkey. Gobble, gobble” is definitely a stand out. Could there be a worse thing to say to a prospective boyfriend ““ a worse metaphor to use? Jennifer does her game best to deliver the line in a sane way. Ben Affleck just looks scared and confused. Although, that was his default acting MO for much of the Bennifer period ““ on and off set.
2. Leaving Las Vegas
This is one of those rare Nicolas Cage films ““ in that both the movie and his acting are extremely good. However, the subject matter is a bit of a downer. A Las Vegas prostitute forms a relationship with an alcoholic, bitter screenwriter who has vowed to drink himself to death. He certainly does in some excruciating moments that will put you off drinking every again. It’s hard to know what to pick as the least romantic scene. Perhaps the scene where Elisabeth Shue’s prostitute with a heart of gold pours champagne over her breasts in a desperate effort to get Nicholas Cage to notice her – sure enough, the alcohol acts as a magnet and he crawls toward her, but is in such a daze that he crashes into a glass table and cuts himself, bleeding everywhere. A terrific, mesmerizing film but as a date movie for Valentine’s Day it’s up there with inhaling a sack of chloride.
1. The Room
Romance With Lots of Flowers and a Bad Accent
Constantly in everyone’s top ten as one of the worst movies ever made, this film makes Plan 9 from Outer Space seem like a masterwork. It has plot holes the size of small moon craters, it disregards continuity as a minor inconvenience (a different actor plays the same character half way through the film with no explanation) and the hilariously bad dialogue fights a losing battle with the mostly awful acting. Yet everyone joyously pitches in and it somehow has a clunky, inept charm. That still doesn’t excuse the romantic scene ““ which features lines such as “I’m tired, I’m wasted, I love you darling!” delivered in a thick Eastern European accent or “You have very nice legs, Lisa!” ““ and I haven’t even got to the part where they lie on the bed surrounded by candles and roses and a mentally handicapped boy comes and joins them. None of it at any point feels like you’re watching a movie ““ rather a bunch of bad improvised scenes from an acting class that someone filmed…and then immediately regretted filming.