The Honor Roll: Valentines Day Special Edition (Part One)

The Honor Roll is a Great Stories feature column that gives you the best in class movies, books, and multimedia from the Great Stories team.  This month Jim and Chris make their top picks for the best Valentines Day features of all time!  Here is part one featuring Chris’ picks.  Jim’s will follow tomorrow evening, just in time for you to settle in for your date night with that special someone!


“Nothing on Earth could come between them.”



What can be said of what I would argue is James Cameron’s last good film (bah to Avatar)?  Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as the leads in a tale that almost everyone knows.  Though we know that the characters these two portrayed, Jack and Rose, are fictional, the stories are lent great credibility when existing on the backdrop of an actual event.  We watch this incredibly tragic historical event and cannot help but be immersed in the events being seen through the eyes of these two characters.  I was on a date when I saw this one back in 1997 and must admit to wiping some tears away to hide them from the young lady I was with (I am not ashamed to admit now).

Jim’s Comment:  Catch my thoughts in tomorrow’s edition, as I cannot help to agree with my good friend Chris who once again shows supremely wonderful taste in his film selections. (Disclaimer:  Jim did not necessarily write this, but you can still get his thoughts in tomorrow’s edition!)


The Princess Bride

“It’s as real as the feelings you feel.”



Rob Reiner’s genius is on display in this cult classic fairy tale for the entire family.  Some may say it is a quirky pick for a Valentine’s Day romance selection, but believe me you have not seen the quirkiest yet!  Hey, I am picking them to please all of the different personality types that exist in my head and hopefully behind the screens of all you blog readers out there!  What we have here is Cary Elwes and Robin Wright as the perfect romantic leads chasing a love that proves hard to come by.  In support, definitive performances from Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn.  I challenge you to find two more memorable roles for these fine actors.  Andre the Giant (of wrestling fame), Billy Crystal, and Chris Sarandon are all awesome in their roles too, which will have you repeating lines forever and a day thereafter.  A truly great movie experience with a pure and classic message of love that will go to any length to be realized.

Jim’s Comment:  Largely ignored when it came out in 1987, this has become one of the most beloved movies of all time (attaboy, Rob Reiner—two movies on this list!). I’m not sure if this is a romance movie so much as it’s a parody of one. However, this is one of those films that never cease to bring a smile to my face. A great cast, a wonderful script by William Goldman (based on his book—if you want more of this wonderful adventure and good humor, go read it now!) and a ton of memorable moments. Inigo and Count Rugen’s climactic duel makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Have fun storming the castle!


When Harry Met Sally

“Can men and women be friends, or does sex always get in the way?”






Rob Reiner does it again, this time with the talented Billy Crystal in the prominent role along with the always charismatic and beautiful Meg Ryan (man, did Dennis Quaid ever screw that one up).   This one contains some of the best comedic timing and delivery on display in any romantic comedy.  Nora Ephron’s script is perfect and she deserves as many accolades for the fine film this turned out to be as the other three principles I mentioned.  Is there any seen from a romantic comedy more famous that the simulated restaurant big-O that Meg Ryan so perfectly pulls off?  Yeah, that one may make you feel a little uncomfortable if you happen to pop it in with your parents in the room!  LOL.

Jim’s Comment: See my review tomorrow…..Chris is such a copy cat.  He must have cheated and looked at my list!

The Notebook

“Behind every great love is a great story.”



How clever of those Hollywood types to be working our company name into their film!  Haha….just kidding.  Trust me, this pick was purely coincidental.  Nicholas Spark’s book is a real winner (especially for the females out there).  I remember being coerced into seeing this one really against my will, but came away from it truly appreciating it for the effective film it was.  Ryan Gosling’s star was just budding at the time of this release and Rachel McAdams brought her gifts to the screen which made for perfect pairing.  James Garner and Sam Shepard were excellent in their support roles.  The story itself is a classic tale of two young lovers from the opposite sides of the tracks who are separated by the expectations and desires of her parents.  The years later, after she is betrothed, is faced with a difficult decision to reunite with her true first love or duty to her fiance.

Jim’s Comment:  Effective and well-cast. This is one of those modern love stories that affect some people passionately. Ryan Gosling is one of those skillful actors whom you never see calling attention to himself, James Garner reminds everyone that he’s one of the most likeable performers ever to grace movie and television screens, and Rachel McAdams is spirited , humorous and—-yep— easy on the eyes.


The Butterfly Effect

“Change one thing, change everything.” 



This one is for all you single folks who are jaded by love this week.  Yes, love is pain.  Love is sacrifice.  And yes, sometimes love stinks (cue Adam Sandler via The Wedding Singer….another movie that almost made it to this list!).  The Butterfly Effect is decidedly a more tragic story than a romance.  But that does not mean that love is not the principle driver of the experience.  If you are looking for a happy Hollywood ending, I encourage you to look elsewhere, but a fine movie this is.  It surprises me to say that a movie with Ashton Kutcher in the lead is such an effective piece, but this one is going to hit you hard, and his performance is part of that heavy formula.  Amy Smart shows wonderful range as her character takes on quite a metamorphosis through the events of the film, and I developed a new-found respect for her acting talents.

Jim’s Comment:  A romance movie????? Oooooooooh-kay.  Folks, this is an extremely strange choice to have on this list. While I was watching it (I hadn’t seen it previously), I kept shaking my head and smirking while thinking “Chris actually questioned my choice of The Shop Around the Corner as a Christmas movie, while thinking THIS is a romance movie?” Truth be told, it is well-made and engrossing. There is a romance IN it that is handled well enough.  However, a large portion of the film is DISTURBING. Try this: say to your significant other “Let’s sit down and watch a romance.” Then pop this sweet bouquet of a movie into your DVD player. And watch the fun begin. Go ahead. I dare ya. I would love to hear their reaction if you aren’t laid up in the hospital after having been beaten to a pulp. 




Back at you tomorrow with Jim’s picks!


The Great Stories Team 

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