Movies: Double Features

Lately I've been thinking about movie pairings. You know, just like some people would think about food and wine pairings, I've been thinking about movies that make good back-to-back viewings.

When I was a kid, it was practically required that we watch The Last Unicorn and Labyrinth at every sleepover. So that's probably my first experience with pairing up movies. Though, thinking about it now, I do feel The Neverending Story works better with either The Last Unicorn or Labyrinth, more so than TLU and Labyrinth do together. Both TNS and Labyrinth have the Creature Shop factor to tie them together. Meanwhile, there's something similar in tone in TNS and TLU.

You see I take this seriously.

Of course, some movies are natural mates. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan must necessarily be followed with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. And the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies . . . Any series, really. But when you are dealing with something as massive as Star Trek, I can personally suggest Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home be paired with Star Trek: First Contact, as these share the time travel theme. I watched them both the other night and they played well together.

It's relatively easy to pair sci-fi type films. For sci-fi comedy, I tried Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Galaxy Quest, and they were a good duo.

But what if you don't want action or sci-fi? The most common thing, then, is to either choose an actor or a genre (or both) and go from there. My friends and I did The Innocents and The Haunting for a chilling evening of entertainment. To see Cary Grant get knotted up over ex-wives, go for The Awful Truth and His Girl Friday (where Grant plays against Ralph Bellamy in both). If you're looking for more modern rom-com, My Best Friend's Wedding + Runaway Bride works pretty well.

Harder to pair is drama, because so many dramatic movies can feel "heavy," and it can be difficult to watch more than one. You could maybe pick any two Coen Brothers movies, though many of those are more dark comedy than drama. Or you could do one drama and one comedy, like Steel Magnolias followed by some other Julia Roberts movie to lift your spirits. I know at least one person who really hates Julia Roberts, though, so maybe I should come up with another example . . . St. Elmo's Fire and Sixteen Candles?

You could pick movies based on stage plays. Arsenic and Old Lace and Rope, for example. Or throw in Suddenly, Last Summer with one of those. California Suite and Sleuth (I recommend the 1972 version). Or, keeping with Michael Caine, Sleuth and Deathtrap. (Actually, I believe Caine was also in California Suite . . .)

Taking that up a notch, musicals are fun features, too. However, many musicals have a longer running time, so be sure you take that into account if you're planning back-to-back viewings of, say, My Fair Lady and Camelot.

I could go on and on, of course. There are infinite combinations to suit every whim and mood. I'm only here to say what's worked for me (Secret of NIMH + Anastasia, if you like Don Bluth). I'd love to hear what you come up with.

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