Eight movies from the 1980s for nerds to watch on Valentine's Day

Eight movies from the 1980s for nerds to watch on Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day, the day we celebrate the patron saint of epilepsy and beekeepers, and for some reason turned that into a celebration of courtly love. And for yet some other reason turned that into a reason to eat candy. I ain’t mad at that part of it.

As with any holiday, it also offers us an excuse to watch some cool movies. When you’re toiling through your 17 streaming services trying to figure out what to watch, it helps if you can have a theme. And as with pretty much any theme you can come up with, the 1980s offer us a plethora of cinematic gems to choose from.

Maybe you’re not the most Valentines-y person around, but surely you can still appreciate a nerdy movie — and these ones have just enough romance thrown in that you might even be able to convince your significant other that today is the day to watch one of these.

The Princess Bride (1987)


Is there anything more romantic than uttering “As you wish” to your crush? 

This fantasy-comedy-romance/lesson about how video games shouldn’t replace books is not only a fantastical adventure, it’s also a tale of true love. Hell, Westley/the Dread Pirate Roberts defeats giants, poison, and even death to ensure he gets to be with the love of his life.

After you’re done watching this one, find a tree and carve “Westley + Buttercup 4Ever” into it.

Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) 


Wow, looking back there was a lot I didn’t understand about this movie when I watched it over and over as a child. The title alone, for example, went right over my head. But, hey there were cool aliens!

Plus, this romantic-comedy-sci-fi flick stars Geena Davis alongside Jeff Goldblum — not to mention Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans in early roles.

The movie opens like any good ‘80s rom-com ought to: With a lovely young woman finding out her rich fiancé is cheating on her. That opens the door for Mac, Zeebo, and Wiploc (from the planet Jhazalla) to crash land into her pool, and for Mac to crash land into her heart. Also, a wonderful makeover montage where the aliens turn out to be total studs. I mean, as much as that trio of actors can be studly, anyway.

Plus there’s a good chance you haven’t even seen this little gem — it only made about $3 million back of its $10 million budget.

Can't Buy Me Love (1987)


Mowing lawns all summer to save up to buy a telescope? We’ve all been there. Deciding at the last second to use that telescope cashola to pay a cheerleader to pretend to be your girlfriend instead? Now that’s the stuff of V-Day dreams.

Ronald Miller (played by Patrick Dempsey) is about as stereotypical of an ‘80s high school nerd as you’ll ever see. But when he convinces Cindy (played by the late Amanda Peterson) to pretend to be his girlfriend and gets a complete makeover as a popular kid (including ditching his nerdy but loyal friends), Ronald finds out that you, you know, the thing the title says.

There’s also yet another great ‘80s movie speech delivered by Ronald tearing down the castes of high school. Thank goodness they took care of that way back then! 

Somewhere in Time (1980)


Think time travel can only be solved through science, eh? Wrong! Turns out, all you have to do is just really really really want to do it.

Starring Superman himself (Christopher Reeve) as playwright Richard Collier, this movie’s heavier on the romance than the time travel, but hey, it’s in there.

Following a strange encounter where a random old lady hands him a pocket watch, Richard becomes obsessed with a photo of an actress from the year 1912 (played b Jane Seymour). He becomes so obsessed, in fact, that he hypnotizes himself to travel back in time to meet her.

Yada yada yada, there’s some true love, more time travel, and voila, you’ve got a mediocre movie for Valentine’s Day.

Highlander (1986)


What’s the most romantic thing your significant other has ever done for you? If you didn’t answer decapitate someone, then it might be time to find a new mate.

If you don’t think this movie is romantic, consider this: Connor MacLeod had to watch his wife die of old age in the 1500s, yet still lights a candle for her birthday every single year. That’s roughly 300+ years of honoring his crush. 

Not only that, when he finally meets a new love interest, he confronts the Kurgan, who killed his mentor and has been haunting MacLeod for centuries. When the Kurgan kidnaps his GF, he kills him, becomes mortal, and uses his new power to create peace and understanding across the world. If that ain’t love, I don’t know what is.

Legend (1985)


Not only was this movie too scary for me as a child when it came out, it was too mushy. 

Ridley Scott’s epic dark fantasy has both the hero Jack (Tom Cruise) and the evil Darkness (Tim Curry) falling for Princess Lili (Mia Sara). When she throws her ring into a pond and declares whoever retrieves it will get to marry her, Jack dives right in. Unfortunately, while he’s swimming around a unicorn gets murdered and eternal night threatens to take over the world. Oops!

And Jack isn’t the only one who has eyes for Lili, as her innocence is alluring even to Darkness, who falls in love with her and also wants to marry her. He puts her under his spell, which can only be broken by Jack finally retrieving that pesky ring.

This movie offers an added chance to test whether you’ve found your one, true love — play the Tangerine Dream soundtrack for your partner. If they like it, it was meant to be, if not, they’re unicorn killers who should be banished for all eternity.

Mannequin (1987)


How is this classic ‘80s rom-com starring Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall good for nerds? An ancient Egyptian inhabits a mannequin and only comes alive at night — that’s some weird as hell stuff that puts this movie squarely in fantasy territory.

Critics hated this movie, maybe because they also hate love. Audiences, on the other hand, turned it into a big commercial success, earning $42.7 million against a $7.9 million budget.

Ladyhawke (1985)


You had me at Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

This ‘80s dark fantasy wasn’t exactly a hit, but it’s got plenty of romance. Lovers Etienne Navarre and Isabeau of Anjou have been cursed to become a wolf and hawk at alternating times of day, so that they can never truly be together.

Unless they get the help of a young thief with a terrible haircut. True love for the win!

What other ‘80s movies did we miss that nerds should get all up on for Valentine’s Day?