In honor of Valentine's Day, our staff will be sharing some of their favorite romantic scenes all day long.


Romance in the movies is usually rewardingly artifical -- some tanned hunk with washerboard abs kissing some gorgeous starlet on a sandy, moonlit beach. It's so Hollywood, and it can be just as satisfying (and phony) as an action movie's bulletproof hero or any comedy's idiotic manchild. Maybe it's not realistic, but the formula works.

I think that's the reason why the "airplane" scene in Grosse Pointe Blank stands out so much to me. It's real. Leading up to this scene, Martin Blank (John Cusack) has returned to his hometown of Grosse Pointe for his high school reunion, after running away on Prom Night ten years earlier to join the armed forces (and eventually become a hitman-with-a-heart). The girl he stood up that night is Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), now a Grosse Pointe radio DJ, and it's obvious from the first time that Debi spots Martin back in town, sitting in his car outside of her radio station, that neither one of them got over each other in the past decade.

Watch the scene (roughly the 55-minute mark) where Martin goes to Debi's house to formally ask her to be his date for the reunion -- the way Driver as Debi denies Martin at the door before relenting, then running and flopping onto her bed like she's seventeen again. She has the upper hand in this situation, but is giddy with her renewed crush on The One That Got Away. When Martin asks her out, she won't answer him until he gives her an "airplane ride".

The "airplane ride" is when Person A lays on their back and hoists Person B into the air by balancing B's waist against A's feet. The moment is spontaneous, playful, and intimate. It's shorthand for how comfortable the characters are around each other, how their relationship is still enjoyably, passionately adolescent. The connection in their relationship is based on the strong bond of two old, best friends and the fun of finding a partner that's as goofy as you are. Then, watch how bad Martin wants to touch Debi in the next scene, reaching for her finger as she drapes an arm against the doorframe. It acknowledges she has Martin over a barrel, and it's Martin's very tiny way of showing an irresistible compulsion to hold her.

It all feels so genuine. I love it.