True Love at the Movies

There are many movies that claim to be romantic comedies – and that’s just what they are – romantic jokes. So on this Valentine’s Day, I want to pay tribute to those few movies that actually speak about true love.

Never mind the endless list of movies where the couple met yesterday and are forced into some silly circumstance outside their comfort zones and now 90 minutes later they’re sharing that “long-awaited” kiss as the sun sets behind them. (Thank you, Frozen, for addressing this.)

Here is a list of movies (and shows) that feature a more old-fashioned type of love. A love that is selfless and undying. A love that overcomes all odds to keep on living.

a beautiful mind

A Beautiful Mind

To some, this may just be a movie about a brilliant man with a psychological disorder. To others, it’s a really fascinating biography. Either way, it’s a movie not to be missed by anyone for any reason. But when I watch this movie, I see a love story at its finest. Watch it from the wife’s point of view. By the world’s standards, she had every reason to leave him, and few would have blamed her. But for a woman to choose to stay married to a man as impulsive and potentially dangerous as John Nash, simply out of love – that speaks volumes to me that Ron Howard and the makers of this film, not to mention the real life couple this movie portrays, really understand what true love can be.


Cinderella Man

Another Russell Crow and Ron Howard team effort. James Braddock, a real-life boxer who was forced to survive the Great Depression while protecting and providing for his wife and three kids, is a role model for every man everywhere. The way he lets his kids have the last bite of dinner. The way he gets himself beat bloody to provide extra change to pay the electric bill. The way he loves his wife through it all, through the absolute worst of times in the twentieth century. James Braddock is an incredible role model for us all. His message is that nothing – not poverty, brokenness, sickness – should ever come between you and the family you vowed to protect through sickness and in health.

Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful

This classic foreign film about the gradual oppression of the Jews during the rise of Hitler will make you laugh (no joke) and cry at the same time. This film really does show that life really can be beautiful even in the midst of pure evil and ugliness all around. And the Beatles (for once) were right – that sometimes, all you need is love. The first part is classic Abbot-and-Costello-type comedy and the second half is pure tragedy. But through it all, it’s love that keeps this family alive and hopeful during one of the worst eras in our modern history.

my life

My Life

This is the fourth saddest movie in the world (just behind Toy Story 3 and My Dog Skip, and The Cure). Michael Keaton stars as a terminal cancer patient who only has a short amount of time to live. The catcher is that his wife is pregnant and, according to the doctors, he won’t live to see his son be born. His wife’s dedication and love for him shouts volumes through this film as a call out to all wives to be that help-mate you were called to be when you stood under that alter with your groom. It’s a worthy movie to watch to make you feel closer to your loved ones.

Man in Box

The Man in the Box

I’m going to cheat here, for a moment. This isn’t a movie (yet). However, the roles are reversed from My Life. In this fantasy/adventure book, the wife has cancer. And it takes the husband nearly until the end of the book to rediscover his love for her. I would highly recommend adding it to your Amazon wish list or Good Reads to-read list, as the author is in the process of revising it, tweaking it, adding to it, in hopes of boosting his book’s 4.3 Amazon rating to a perfect 5. (Oh, and you really ought to Like it on Facebook for a chance to win a free autographed copy.)


The Office

In the Toy house, this is the pinnacle of the greatest shows ever made. (We’re constantly watching it in cycles because I can only stand so much of HGTV.) But Jim and Pam have one of those relationships that you just can’t help but root for from the very beginning. They’re the kind of couple that just… work – no pun intended. You just don’t get much better romantic character connections than this.


Shrek the Fourth

Wha-?? Am I really recommending a Dreamworks movie? Well, after the absolute train wreck of the third installment of the Shrek franchise, I don’t know why or how I bothered to watch this at all. The only explanation is that Sarabeth must have talked me into it, and since I love her (theme of today’s post), I gave in. And though it’s not as good as the second Shrek, this fourth installment actually surprised me in an unexpected way. The first good thing the filmmakers did was exterminate any potential tributes to its predecessor (Shrek 3) that they could. In a way, they started fresh, picking right up from the second movie and gave it a better conclusion by reaffirming Shrek and Fiona’s everlasting love for one another. It’s the story most men at some point wish to find themselves in – a chance to return to bachelorhood. Shrek the Fourth is a cautionary tale about why it’s best to appreciate what you have sitting around your dinner table.



And how could I overlook one of the most remarkably romantic couples to hit the big screen since…. well, ever? In ten minutes the filmmakers meticulously stitch together a romantic life worth living as Carl and Ellie fall in love, get married, plan a family, and grow old together through the mundane occurrences of everyday life – yet, they somehow make every day an adventure. Even in her passing, Carl can’t seem to let her go. If only everyone can find this kind of romance, as I did with Sarabeth.

Have a safe and happy Valentine’s Day, everyone, and feel free to list your favorite true-love movies.

Oh, and keep praying for us. We’re hoping to bring Baby A. home from the hospital today… 🙂

About Andrew Toy
Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

37 Responses to True Love at the Movies

  1. jasongrey39 says:

    Although, I can’t agree with all the movies on your list the ones that stand out to me are UP and My Life. Pixar managed to capture in 8 minutes what hundreds of books and movies fail to do. They do it all with out even saying a word.

    Pixar movies have made me cry but usually further into the film. I kept thinking, damn you Pixar, this is a kids movie but they just manage to connect emotionally with audiences, young and old. I wonder how UP will affect kids and how they view a relationship when they grow up?

    We live in a world of instant gratification that leaves us feeling empty and then we just want to fill it with more things (I am sounding like one of those ATT commercials). That opening sequence shows, love, sacrifice, set backs, tragedy, hopes, dreams, loss and love. It should be required viewing for teens to help them understand what a relationship is all about.

    I had forgotten about My Life, I watched it before I had kids and I loved how he video taped all of the messages to his son. Keaton does a great job of being scared, loving, angry and loving. When I taught my boys how to shave years ago, I always recalled this movie.

    Thanks for bringing these up in your post. I will have to check out that book. Thanks for posting.

  2. Love your list. Especially UP, Life is Beautiful, and Cinderella Man. 🙂

  3. Oh yes! My Life, I sobbed loudly in that one, A Beautiful Mind is surely one of my all time favourites, I showed it to my husband a few weeks ago and he cried buckets. Have you seen Atonement? A real tear-jerker that lulls you into thinking it all turns out fine in the end, James McEvoy and Keira Knightley at their best methinks, another fave is The Unbearable Lightness of Being..I could go on and on and….
    PS- I don’t mind the occasional English rom-com either (think Love Actually :)).

  4. 1. Congratulations for bringing Baby A home. May you bring her up in health and wealth and may she bring you a lit of happiness (this is how we bless new children joining our families in Hebrew).

    2. I haven’t watch the films you mentioned (nu, Israel, we are way behind the USA), but your post made me think about the ones I did see, and came up only with “The Bridges of Madison County” and “Love Story”, which I like to watch again and again, and of course fill up numerous tissues…
    Happy Valentine!

  5. I forgot to add, about “The Man in the Box”, that I managed to finish chapter 5 (it takes me a while since English is not my language) and I wanted to say that:
    A. It looks like a fantastic story
    B. While reading, I could picture the scenes very easily in my mind – definitely it should be adapted to become a movie. When are you sitting to write the screenplay?
    C. Wishing you good luck with this book, I’m sure it will become a best seller and the sky won’t limit it 🙂

  6. Allison Jakes says:

    Perfect timing! I was looking for a good love story to watch with my boyfriend on Valentine’s as part of my gift from him (he told me that we could watch any movie. any. movie.). And now I don’t have to torture him with Dirty Dancing for the seven hundredth time! I think he’ll be pleasantly surprised when I pick a movie that he can actually have some interest in. Thanks! I hope you have a wonderfully romantic day, although I’m sure you will 🙂

  7. Allison Jakes says:

    Oh, and congratulations on Baby A! Haha best wishes 🙂

  8. Loved A Beautiful Mind! Was a fantastic film, every aspect of it! Completely 100% agree with ‘Up’. I’ve only seen this film once and the only reason for this is because I cried SO MUCH the first time I don’t think I can bare it again but yes, you’re right, it’s beautiful and the definition of true love.

  9. Karis Elizabeth says:

    Reblogged this on thelordswordsword and commented:
    Yes, yes, yes. Although I haven’t seen man in the box or my life, these are great films. Although I DO like Frozen anyways thank you. ;D Just for fun, allow me to just add “The Princess Bride” to this list!

  10. A great idea for a post! We’re always looking for a good movie, and don’t find many that we want to spend time watching. There are a few on this list we haven’t seen–we’ll check them out.

  11. ericaleaps says:

    Loved this! And congratulations on Baby A.!

  12. gailkav says:

    Some excellent choices there. Congratulations and much happiness with Baby A.

  13. Wonder Train says:

    Great choices. I personally like ‘Up’ and ‘Frozen’. Congratulations on Baby A. Wish you all the best!

  14. Aaron says:

    Excellent write-up. Thank you, so very much, for giving “A Beautiful Mind” the credit it deserves and while I’m not a huge Jennifer Connelly fan, she was a great choice for the role of Nash’s wife.
    A suggestion, since you have some unique choices, would be to check out, if you haven’t, The Fountain with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.
    There will come a day when people can see Jackman for the extraordinary actor he is, and not just ‘Wolverine’. But this is a beautiful movie.

  15. dpbowman says:

    Well said.
    What about What Dreams May Come?
    To go to hell to free the one you love, even if hell is just a creation of their mind…Wow.

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  17. Pingback: True Love at the Movies | Moments of Awareness

  18. bernasolis says:

    Hi! What a beautiful post! This would be my go-to site in finding sensible movies to watch. Just like you, I also love movies with heart and soul coming out of the story. ~Berna

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