The top ten unlikely screen romances

Romance blossoms in the most unlikely of places

As Shakespeare famously wrote in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the course of true love never did run smooth… and that’s when both participants are relatively straightforward sixteenth-century teens. When one of you is a car, a computer or a country, another layer of complexity is added to the courtship process. Time Out’s film writers round up their favourite oddball romances, a list which brings an entirely new definition to the term ‘alternative lifestyle’.

Do you disagree with our selection? Want to point out something we’ve missed? Please let us know in the comments below.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best romantic movies

1
1/10

Woman and fly

Film
The Fly

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Seth ‘Brundlefly’ Brundle (Jeff Goldblum)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis)

The meet cute
Brilliant but unhinged science geek Seth picks journo Veronica up at a swanky science-mag do: she’s looking for a scoop, he’s looking to do some scooping, so he offers to show her his teleportation device (hey, we’ve all tried it). It’s not long before they’re eating steak, discussing metaphysics and getting genetically entangled – and not just with each other.

Happily ever after?
Sadly, no. Once Seth becomes part housefly, the writing is pretty much on the wall. When he attempts to fuse with (and thereby destroy) Veronica and their unborn child, there’s nothing left for poor Veronica to do but pop a couple of sawn-off shells in his confused, insect noggin. And we were really rooting for those two crazy kids…

Words of love
‘Is this a romance we’re having? Is that what this is?’

Read more
2
2/10

Man and brain

Film
The Man with Two Brains

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Anne Uumellmahaye (voice: Sissy Spacek – uncredited)

The meet cute
Soon after brain surgeon Hfuhruhurr learns that his foxy new wife Dolores (Kathleen Turner) is a scheming user, he discovers he can hear the voices of living brains stored in jars. Chief among these is that of Anne Uumellmahaye, the disoriented brain of a sweet-natured woman. They immediately fall in love.

Happily ever after?
Yes. Thanks to a mixture of absurd chance and the Doc’s plotting, Anne’s brain ends up in the recently-deceased body of Dolores and despite some considerable weight gain, the pair wed.

Words of love
‘I don't think there's a girl floating in any jar anywhere who's as happy as I am.’

Read more
3
3/10

Man and car

Film
Christine

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Christine, a 1958 Plymouth Fury convertible

The meet cute
It’s love at first sight, as bookish Arnie buys beat-up Christine (with over 93,000 miles on her clock), gets her spruced up and sets about flashing this chrome-plated, cruise-controlled cutie off to all his friends. Kudos achieved!

Happily ever after?
When Arnie finds out that his erstwhile paramour has been responsible for a rash of local murders, the mother of all break ups ensues, with one partner slammed through the windscreen onto a convenient impaling spike, and the other crushed into a small cube. Ah, l’amour!

Words of love
‘You better watch what you say about my car. She's real sensitive.’

Read more
4
4/10

Donkey and dragon

Film
Shrek

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Dragon (speechless)

The meet cute
On his mission with Shrek to find a kidnapped Princess, Donkey encounters a fierce, fire-breathing dragon standing guard. Attempting to talk the dragon round, he discovers her to be female and his flattery wins him entry to more than just the castle.

Happily ever after?
Absolutely. Donkey and Dragon wed at the end of ‘Shrek’ and have flying, flame-breathing baby ‘dronkeys’ in ‘Shrek 2’. They are shown as a happy family in ‘Shrek Forever After’.

Words of love
‘That's one dazzling smile you got there! And do I detect a hint of minty freshness?’

Read more
5
5/10

Man and plant

Film
The Little Shop of Horrors

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Seymour Krelboyne (Jonathan Haze)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Man-eating plant Audrey Jr (voiced by Charles B Griffith)

The meet cute
They don’t get much cuter, as downtrodden plant-selling putz Seymour actually grows his intended from a mysterious seed which he crossbreeds himself. The fact that it swiftly transforms into a blood-craving monster doesn’t seem to put him off much.

Happily ever after?
For the characters, no: Seymour ends up gutting Audrey Jr from inside. But for the movie, most definitely: despite being shot in two days, ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ went on to become a Broadway smash musical, and a hit movie remake with Rick Moranis.

Words of love
‘Shut up and bring on the food!’

Read more
6
6/10

Man, woman and car love triangle

Film
Crash

Star-crossed lover no. 1
James Ballard (James Spader)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Catherine Ballard (Deborah Kara Unger)

The meet cute
A married couple in an open relationship, the Ballards are going through a rough patch when a car accident inspires a very unique fetish. After a series of affairs with both women and men, James brings his own wife to the party and their shared passion for impact scenarios brings new life to their relationship.

Happily ever after?
Presumably, although the ending implies that the logical conclusion to their fetish may be death.

Words of love
‘The car crash is a fertilizing rather than a destructive event.’

Read more
7
7/10

Woman and computer

Film
Electric Dreams

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Madeline (Virginia Madsen)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Edgar, the Pinecone Systems home computer (voiced by Bud Cort)

The meet cute
When he becomes sentient following an incident with an illegal download and a bottle of champagne, deskbound PC Edgar starts thinking he’s people. And, this being America in the 80s, he immediately starts writing synth-based pop smashes, obsessing over home appliances and crushing on the leggy cellist next door.

Happily ever after?
Brains before beauty may be a nice ideal, but it’s not going to work if those brains are actually hard-wired circuitry. Edgar is forced to step aside in favour of his not-as-smart (and frankly, not much better-looking) owner, and attempts suicide to the strains of Phil Oakey. As you do.

Words of love
‘Well, Doctor, it's really the same question: I want to know what love is.’

Read more
8
8/10

Girl and gorilla

Film
King Kong

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Giant island-bound ape Kong

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Ann Darrow (Fay Wray)

The meet cute
Ann is kidnapped by natives and prepared as a sacrifice for Kong. When she’s rescued, he pursues her and is taken back to New York. Breaking free, he grabs her, chiefly out of protection and love. While terrified, Ann shows serious concern for his wellbeing. Slightly one-sided, sure, but a complex connection.

Happily ever after?
Hardly. Ann goes off with a human lover, Driscoll, while Kong is felled by airplane gunfire.

Words of love
‘It was Beauty killed the Beast.’

Read more
9
9/10

Schoolboy and pensioner

Film
Harold and Maude

Star-crossed lover no. 1
Harold (Bud Cort)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
Maude (Ruth Gordon)

The meet cute
Death-obsessed Harold is gatecrashing a stranger’s funeral when he meets 79-year-old Maude, a fellow funeral enthusiast. An immediate bond forms and Maude shares her love of art and music with the smitten youngster, who insists on repulsing all the same-age dates his disapproving mother arranges for him.

Happily ever after?
Until death do they part. Maude overdoses on her 80th birthday and tells Harold she ‘Couldn’t imagine a lovelier farewell’ than the party he arranges for her.

Words of love
[Maude reading an engraving on a coin] ‘Harold loves Maude... and Maude loves Harold. This is the nicest gift I've received in years. [Throws coin into the water] So I'll always know where it is.’

Read more
10
10/10

Three loners and the English countryside

Film
A Canterbury Tale

Star-crossed lovers no. 1
Land Girl Alison Smith (Sheila Sim), Sergeant Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price), Private Bob Johnson (John Sweet)

Star-crossed lover no. 2
The English countryside

The meet cute
Okay, so we’re slightly out on a limb with this one, but ‘A Canterbury Tale’ truly is a great romance, the tale of how three outwardly self-possessed but inwardly empty loners fall in rapturous love with this green and pleasant land, thanks to the intervention of local magistrate and part-time perverted ‘Glue Man’ Colpeper (Eric Portman).

Happily ever after?
Yes! Each one of our three heroes is rewarded for their devotion with a unique and individual blessing, playing on their specific hopes and dreams for the future – which, we do not doubt, will be golden.

Words of love
‘Well, there’s more way than one of getting close to your ancestors. Follow the old road, and as you walk, think of them and of the old England.’

Read more
See more on romantic movies

Comments

0 comments