10 of the Best Movies to Watch on a Date Night in with Friends

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Sometimes, it is fun to leave the house with your friends (or so I am told). Other times, though, the strain of the world beyond your living room is too much to bear. Luckily, that is what movie nights are for. Is there a better way to bond from the comfort of your living room, in companionable silence, while eating takeout Chinese? I think not.

So what are you gonna watch? In preparation for your next friend-movie-date-night, here are 10 films that are pretty much made for pal-ing around.

If you haven’t seen The Big Chill, now is the chance to fill in this gaping hole in your personal evolution. If you have seen The Big Chill, that is no problem because it is the ultimate in group-of-friends-navigate-complicated-relationships movies, which is the best kind of movie there is.

Fifteen years post-graduation, a group of old college friends reunite after one of their number commits suicide. Secrets are told. Feelings are had. Truths are reckoned with. An ode to long-haul friendships with a stellar cast (young Kevin Kline! Young Glenn Close!), it would be worth watching even if the soundtrack wasn’t legendary — but it is. Totally legendary.

The Room is a terrible movie. “It’s not just bad,” wrote the BBC, “it’s intoxicatingly awful.” Don’t even think of it as a “movie,” exactly — think of it as a hilarious activity that involves your television.

Written and directed by unlikely auteur Tommy Wiseau, who also stars, the film is an unironic train wreck of melodrama about a love triangle between Wiseau, his girlfriend, and his best friend. Truly, it is a very special experience, and one ideally suited to group viewing.

Definitely, Maybe has very little to do with friendship, but it is a criminally underrated romcom that is sweet and hopeful and generally life-affirming, but not, like, in an oppressive way. Sometimes, you just need a little brightness in your life, you know?

The movie follows hapless Ryan Reynolds as his tries to explain his impending divorce to his young daughter by telling her the story of his three great loves. I cannot explain why this questionable plot is such a singular pleasure, and critics do not necessarily agree with me here, but honestly, I would be remiss not to recommend it, in all its mediocre perfection.

Men also have friendships! Sometimes, with each other! A generally winning (but heartfelt!) bromance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a man with cancer, Seth Rogen plays his devoted and endearing best friend, Anna Kendrick plays his over-involved therapist (also endearing), and Anjelica Huston plays his mom.

May we all be so lucky to have a Seth Rogen in our lives.

A true friendship classic that never seems to get old, Beaches tells the story of a 30-year friendship between Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. More importantly, it gives you a socially acceptable excuse to curl up with your best friend and laugh, cry, and violently sob, which is a very intimate kind of bonding experience.

Surreal and hilarious, this dark comedy from writer/director Talya Lavie follows a group of young female Israeli soldiers as they serve out their mandatory military duty doing exceedingly dull administrative tasks at a remote army base. A cross between Ghost World and a Kafka short story, this is what you watch when you’re looking for something a) exceptionally good, and b) that you haven’t seen approximately one million times before.

This is cheating. Tales of the City generally does not appear on movie lists, because it is technically a 1993 PBS miniseries, but I’m including it here because there is no better celebration of chosen family.

Based on Armistead Maupin’s iconic novels, the series follows the tight-knit residents of 28 Barbary Lane as they navigate life and love in 1970s San Francisco under the watchful eye of landlady/unofficial matriarch, Mrs. Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis, transcendently).

Waiting to Exhale follows four best friends (played by Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon, Whitney Houston, and Loretta Devine) who are successful in life and struggling in love. It may be more than 20 years old, but the movie is a lasting testament to the joy of female friendship — and the power of unwavering support.

This is a gap in my personal education. If you, too, are someone who missed the cultural phenomenon that was this summer’s Ghostbusters reboot, there is no time like the present to remedy this lapse. Directed by Paul Feig, the new Ghostbusters is a lot like the old Ghostbusters, except that this time it features an all-star cast of extremely funny women (Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy).

Also, Manohla Dargis at the Times says that in addition to a chronicle of ghost-hunting, it’s “also a female-friendship movie, but without the usual genre pro forma tears, jealousies, and boyfriends.” This is good. We need more of this.

Sometimes you just need a romantic teen cancer dramedy to get it all out, you know? In the movie adaptation of the tragic-yet-life-affirming YA phenomenon, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort play the teen lovers, who meet-cute at a support group for teens with terminal illnesses. And really, if you cannot weep sappily in front of your closest friends, who can you weep sappily in front of?

What’s your favorite flick to watch on a night in with a friend or two?