Dates — first dates especially — are fraught with peril. So much can go wrong, in so many deliciously awkward ways.
Whether this will work out to our comedy advantage with "Date Night" — the Tina Fey-Steve Carell feature that opens Friday — remains to be seen.
It's hard to imagine that whatever goes wrong will be worse than some of the hope-filled romantic collisions cited below. They may not be the worst dates in movie history, but they're pretty gruesome.
* "After Hours" (1985)
You can kind of tell a date isn't going well when one of the participants commits suicide. And that's just one of the many bits of insanity that the beleaguered Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) survives in this very black comedy by Martin Scorsese. Paul, a word processor who lives on the Upper East Side, meets a waitress named Marcy (Rosanna Arquette), gets her number and journeys downtown to see her, in the process losing his money, encountering assorted mutants and freakazoids, being accused of burglary, and getting chased by a mob of angry homosexuals.
* "Spider-Man 2" (2004)
When the star-crossed Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) meet in a coffee shop to resolve their romantic impasse, Doctor Octopus shows up and throws a car at them. What follows is a battle that roves all over town, atop buildings and subway trains, and involves Mary Jane's abduction by the betentacled Doc Ock (Alfred Molina). Not exactly the way they describe it on eHarmony.
* "The Invention of Lying" (2009)
Before their first date is even over, Ricky Gervais gets to listen to Jennifer Garner tell her mother everything that's wrong with him — and why it will never work out, and why they'll never see each other again — in this comedy set in a parallel universe where everyone tells the truth. All the time. Which is certainly not the route to romance.
* "The Awful Truth" (1937)
A shiny old chestnut, this rather daring (for its time) tale of adultery stars Cary Grant, Irene Dunne and Ralph Bellamy, who plays a big hick from Oklahoma smitten by the sophisticated Dunne. After Grant's date embarrasses him — by performing a virtual striptease in the nightclub where they all meet — Grant gets paid back in full, as Bellamy drags Dunne around the dance floor while performing a kind of demented square dance.
* "She's Out of My League" (last month)
This movie's a bit too fresh to have achieved classic status, but it has potential: When airport security guy Kirk (Jay Baruchel) brings the gorgeous Molly (Alice Eve) home to meet his baboon-like family, the males drool in unison, the women can't disguise their envy, and Molly's admission that she isn't wearing any underwear almost sets the house on fire. Of course, if love can survive this, it can survive anything.
* "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008)
Peter (Jason Segel) thinks he loves the unfaithful Sarah (Kristen Bell), and runs off to Hawaii to forget her — only to find that she and her narcissistic rock-star boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), are at the same resort. When sparks start flying between Peter and hotel clerk Rachel (Mila Kunis), they go out to dinner, only to be thrown together again with Sarah and Aldous in a painful, cringe-inducing meal during which Peter and the women drink heavily, and Aldous tells them at length about his sexual philosophy.