It’s not enough that they rolled out Valentine’s Day decorations before we packed away our Christmas trees.
Valentine’s Day is on a Friday, which means we have a full weekend of Cupid’s arrows in our paths. For some, this is fun. For others, not so much. Me? I pretty much love love, even when I’m single and happy or heartbroken.
Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s festivities, Single Awareness Day, or you aren’t into the manufactured occasions but want something to watch this long winter weekend, there’s a little love story for everyone.
The Break-Up Movie: “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey”
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) had me at “Me and the Joker? We broke up.” Directed by Cathy Yan, the first Asian-American woman to direct a major Hollywood superhero film, this girl gang DC Comics-inspired adventure is my one and only Valentine’s Day play.
Quinn is more than the Joker’s girlfriend, or ex. And she teams up with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) to show women can be good — and bad — all by themselves. Chaos and a squad of female supervillains with crossbows, dropkicks, and bazookas? Yes, please.
The Romance We Deserve: “The Photograph”
Stella Meghie’s “The Photograph” is soulful, sultry, and captures both the bitter and the sweet. With Issa Rae as Mae and LaKeith Stanfield as Michael, we don’t just get the first flush of new love. We come to understand how the past plays a part in our present, and how we learn from it all will affect our future.
“My mother wasn’t very good at love,” Mae says. “What if I’m just like her?”
Maybe we all haven’t been there, but I sure have. And the beauty of “The Photograph” is we get laughter and light and all the things that make a Valentine’s Day movie lovely while learning to appreciate love’s hard lessons, too.
The Teenage Love: “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You”
Netflix’s 2018 adaptation of Jenny Han’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” took over the streaming service, becoming one of its most-watched movies. When the love letters of Lara Jean Song Covey (Lana Condor) get sent to every crush she’s ever had, the awkward but cute misadventures ensue, a fake relationship turns real, and our hearts are bursting with happiness.
And now we have the sequel,“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” released earlier this week. The first story ended with Lara Jean getting her first boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). But what happens when the cool jock and the shy girl who stress bakes get together? What does a high school happily ever after look like? The story continues.
The New Love: “Cherish the Day”
When Ava DuVernay brings us a project, it almost always steals our hearts. Her new OWN series, “Cherish the Day,” follows the love story of Gently (Xosha Roquemore) and Evan (Alano Miller). The first two hourlong episodes debuted this week, just in time for a Valentine vibe.
The first season will follow Gently and Evan over five years in eight episodes, and it starts with a very messy first date. Because love isn’t a tidy fairytale. DuVernay aims to make the series an anthology, so that each season will tell the story of a different couple. But for now, it’s all about Evan and Gently and where love leads them.
The LOL Because You Deserve It: “Leslie Jones: Time Machine”
She may have left “Saturday Night Live,” but Leslie Jones is not done making us laugh. And “Time Machine” is the content we deserve. It’s not a romance. It came out exactly one month before Valentine’s Day. But you can see how much Jones loves herself in every joke, dance, and wide smile.
Jones, 52, takes us on a journey through her 20s, 30s, and 40s and reminds us to enjoy our lives so much our ponytails fly off.
Her physical comedy is almost as funny as the jokes themselves, telling us the best night of her 20s was when she ended up butt-naked in a Jeep Wrangler going around in a circle saying, “Happy Halloween.” It was Christmas.
So no, this isn’t clean comedy. This is dirty, wild, and uncut — a lot like life.