Weekend binge — Halloween counterprogramming

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If the Hydra-like Spirit Halloween stores popping up all over your local empty storefronts (R.I.P. Borders and Circuit City) weren’t enough of an indication, spooky season is in full swing. Businesses putting up pumpkin deco, kids dressing up as animals, and college students dressing up as sexy animals! Only during this time of the year is it socially acceptable for children to receive candy from strangers.

Hollywood is no stranger to the spooky season, with studios often releasing new horror films and movie theaters replaying the classics. This season may be every horror aficionado’s favorite time of the year, but for those who are not a fan of jump scares or Ari Aster’s latest traumatizing adventure, the marathons of slasher flicks and paranormal films can get a bit tiring. So if you are looking for some counterprogramming to the spooky season for this weekend, here are some antithetical Halloween movies to watch, courtesy of the late, great Garry Marshall.

“Valentine’s Day”

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Ahh 2010, when a movie starring Patrick Dempsey, Taylor Lautner and Ashton Kutcher would be considered “star-studded.” Who could forget this ensemble movie about the trials and tribulations of privileged Angelenos on Valentine’s Day. This romantic comedy on steroids has the classic dichotomy of terrible critical reviews and amazing box office returns, which is really all any holiday-based movie can dream of. 

You may be thinking, “Why would I want to watch Taylor Swift try to flex her acting skills in an off-brand American version of ‘Love Actually’ when I could literally be watching anything else?” But truly nothing will get your mind off of Halloween antics like a film that has a storyline about Kutcher owning a flower shop. And the film was successful enough for director Marshall to be inspired to create a whole unofficial trilogy of romantic comedies based on specific holidays.

“New Year’s Eve”

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The second installment in Marshall’s Holiday Cinematic Universe, “New Year’s Eve” is the exact same plot as “Valentine’s Day” except, as you have probably guessed, it takes place on New Year’s Eve. And this time it’s in New York! Who said Hollywood originality is dead? 

Again with an ensemble cast of celebrities, “New Year’s Eve” follows multiple storylines of privileged New Yorkers who all have to wrestle with their romantic problems on the magical night of New Year’s Eve. And you better bet that the entire climax of the film rests on the Times Square countdown and ball drop. Is it the next “Citizen Kane”? No. Would Martin Scorsese most likely liken it to a theme park? Probably. But no one said all movies have to be inspiring works of art.

“Mother’s Day”

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The final film in the unofficial trilogy, and Marshall’s final film, “Mother’s Day” toned down the large ensemble cast and primarily focused on four main characters, courtesy of Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson. Like its predecessors, “Mother’s Day” revolves around its titular holiday. Sandy (Aniston) is a single mother who has a meet cute with single father Bradley (Sudeikis), and of course, romantic comedy mishaps ensue. Miranda (Roberts) reunites with her estranged daughter Kristin (Britt Robertson), while Kristin’s friend Jesse (Hudson) deals with her own interracial marriage and her seemingly bigoted parents.

“Mother’s Day” might quite possibly be the most niche holiday-centric film ever made, but on the bright side, it functions both as a romantic comedy and a nice film to watch with your mom on her special day. It is also so antithetical to Halloween that by the time you finish reading this article, you’ll probably forget all about the spooky season.

If you can’t wait until Halloween is over, so you can start blasting “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” or you’re just covering your eyes until they stop making “Annabelle” movies, Marshall is the man you need this weekend.

Julie Lim covers film. Contact her at [email protected].