July 15, 2021

Romantic Capers: Murder Mystery/The Lovebirds/Date Night

Romantic Capers: Murder Mystery/The Lovebirds/Date Night

There's nothing like the bubbly fun, clever banter and twisty plots of a romantic caper movie*. It's just the thing when you crave romance and sexy flirting in beautiful settings, plus a dash of gentle mystery and mild suspense. *Episode contains spoilers. Lots.



The Lady Vanishes is a comfort re-watch for me, even though I know whodunit. The central romance is so charming.

The Thin Man and its sequels are delightful from start to finish. Nick and Nora Charles are the ultimate married-couple energy to me. Made more than 80 years ago and still bright and fun.

Charade has been called the best Hitchcock film that he didn't direct, and I agree. I don't know what's more appealing: the plot, the Paris setting, Cary Grant's handsome humor or Audrey Hepburn's beauty and stunning costumes.

The gorgeous French Riviera settings of Murder Mystery and To Catch a Thief are worth the watch alone, but the plots and champagne-bubble fun will win you over.

Manhattan Murder Mystery isn't top drawer Woody Allen but it's sweet and fun. Diane Keaton is the star here.

The Lovebirds walks so many fine lines well that its effect and scope just can't be summed up in a trailer. You have to see it.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey are at their straight-man best in Date Night, especially during the car chase scene.

Other romantic capers worth a look:

The beautiful Audrey Hepburn is back for another vintage caper, this time with Peter O'Toole in How to Steal a Million.


There was a remake, but the original The Thomas Crown Affair is full of 60's cool. 


I prefer this Jim Carrey remake of Fun with Dick and Jane to the original.


Tom Cruise is ridiculously charming and Cameron Diaz shows off her great comedic timing in Knight and Day.


It's all about the hot chemistry between sexy Sean Connery and sexy Catherine Zeta-Jones, plus a badass plot in Entrapment.


The warmth and humor of George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez were never better than in Out of Sight.

Hot White Heist is a queer audio caper performed by a cast of talented stage and screen actors. It's daffy and delightful.


This is Confessions of a Closet Romantic, a podcast where I celebrate my favorite romantic TV shows, movies, books and talk in detail about why I love them so much. Without embarrassment or shame. Mostly! This episode is about the romantic caper: Murder Mystery, The Lovebirds and Date Night.

The movie and book equivalent of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich and a soft blanket for me is an Agatha Christie mystery or Sherlock Holmes. The threats are sanitized, mostly offscreen, the outcome is certain, often predictable (not for me --I'm a lightweight) but getting there is so enjoyable.

But what I really want when I'm feeling low is romance with a bit of a brain teaser thrown in. Not a complicated plot, just plenty of fun and clever banter and a sweet, happy ending

That's where romantic capers come in.

There're so many classic movies that hit this exact right note: Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, The Lady Vanishes, the Thin Man movies, Charade with Cary and Audrey Hepburn, and recent movies like Entrapment, Knight and Day and Out of Sight.

Oh the absorbing plots, chop busting between the lead characters, and most importantly, strong, capable female characters and no real peril.

if you listened to my Romantic Banter episode, you know witty characters going head to head, exchanging flirty, snappy comebacks is my personal catnip. It’s that “romantic bonding-with-our- smart-brains” thing,

 In a romantic caper, you know it's going to end with the girl getting the guy, or the guy getting the guy or the girl getting the girl, but you get a gripping adventure before the payoff, which is what makes it so fun and watchable.

Modern romantic capers are sometimes a little more ironic and self-aware, a touch darker than the old school movies, but they’re still sexy and fun. The tone of a caper is everything— and some movies just nail it. 

In Murder Mystery, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston play married couple Audrey, a hairdresser, and Nick, a police detective. They’ve been comfortably if not blissfully married for many years. and don't have a ton of money but they're reasonably happy. 

But Audrey still resents that they never got the dream honeymoon in Europe that Nick promised all those years ago.

So when Nick gives Audrey a completely unromantic gift card for their latest anniversary, he realizes he screwed up, and plans a last-minute budget bus tour vacation around Europe. 

On the plane, Audrey meets charming Charles Cavendish, who invites them on his luxury yacht about to sail around the Mediterranean.

Little do they know that the entire Cavendish family plus some hangers-on are gathering on that yacht to witness changes to the last will and testament of Charles’s dad and he wants these strangers to ruffle his dad's feathers.

On board, they gather as the new will is about to be signed, disinheriting the whole family and leaving millions to the old man’s young mistress. Nick and Audrey are completely confused. Then… all the lights go out.


Things shoot straight downhill from there –as the strangers of the bunch, Nick and Audrey get framed for the murder, so Audrey uses the techniques she's picked up from reading murder mysteries to find the real murderer, much to Nick's frustration. 


Working together in an ad hoc investigation, they become a huge source of humor and the experience brings them closer together and to a place where they respect each other again. 

This movie is a delightful combination of Clue,  Murder on the Orient Express, and Knives Out. Even The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Plus Jennifer Aniston spends much of the time running around on the cobblestones of the Mediterranean perched like a bird on wedge sandals and I deeply admire her fadhion commitment.

Manhattan Murder Mystery by Woody Allen is another “place a comfortably committed couple into a dangerous situation completely out of their normal routine” caper. Woody Allen plays Larry, married for years to Carol, played by Diane Keaton.

They’re empty-nesters after their son leaves for college, and feel a bit at odds.

 So they decide to take a risk and socialize with an older couple next-door, but when the woman turns up dead the following day, Carol's gut instinct tells her that the husband killed her, and she sets out to prove it, with Larry whining about the dangers of getting involved the whole time—and then he starts to believe her theory, too.

It's a bit of a reverse Hitchcock Rear Window story, and if you're a fan of Woody Allen’s cerebral comedy you will probably enjoy this movie – which ends sweetly with Carol and Larry growing closer after solving the mystery and seeing each other with fresh eyes.

The Lovebirds is another gently suspenseful but sweet rom com/romantic caper that begins with a couple who have lost their passion for each other. 

In the opening credits, they're shown falling in love… and then four years later…

[ Clip]

Fighting in the car on the way to a party they realize they're on the verge of a break up—and they're so distracted, they accidentally hit a cyclist .

The cyclist survives and as they try to help him, things quickly spiral out of control.


This movie is clever, bantery and funny but the added layers of race and gender on top of the classic murder mystery tropes give this story so much more depth and real suspense.


Working together with just their instincts and wits to help them, their struggles are nail biting at times and you just root for them to not only survive the night, but stay together. As they bicker and try to solve the crime, it becomes clear that deep down, they really are suited to each other.


Date Night is another “put a comfortably bored married couple into an accidental night of crime and crazy hijinks” romantic caper.

Tina Fey and Steve Carell —are there any two actors better suited to play an ordinary suburban couple?—play Claire and Phil Foster, a new Jersey couple bored with their domestic routine.

When date night comes along, Phil decides on a surprise splurge and takes Claire to an expensive and popular Manhattan restaurant.

But oh, what a surprise it becomes. Phil being Phil forgot to make reservations and before Claire can lose it over the long wait, he pretends to be a reservation name called multiple times without a response to grab a table.

They're almost high on the wine and good food and being dressed up and away from the kids for a night, playing their cute, light-hearted game where they make up stories about other diners in the restaurant. You can't help but feel the euphoria of these two finally getting out for a romantic night alone.


But… it just so happens that couple they’re impersonating are being chased because they’re involved in an underworld crime. And they find this out when two scary looking men come up to their table and force them to go with them. Being Claire and Phil, the rule followers, they think it's the restaurant catching them for stealing the table but it's so much worse.

Just like in Hitchcock's North by Northwest, by answering to the wrong name, Phil and Claire set off a series of events that will result in this boring suburban couple becoming familiar with guns and car chases and how to lose a tail, as they try to figure out what to do.


This movie is hysterically funny in parts—all of the humor comes from these ordinary people trying to work together to set the facts straight, and their relationship is tested in the most relatable but extraordinary ways. 

It's also a really exciting caper with one of the funniest car chase scenes I've ever seen. 

Phil commandeers a sports car and drives it the wrong way down a one-way street and hits a cab, which hooks the front bumper as he throws it in reverse and tries to lose the crooks trailing them.


Spoiler: it ends happily with yet another married couple growing closer overnight and it's such a enjoyable 24-hr. journey getting there.

As usual there are many more! I'll link to some of my favorite romantic capers in the show notes. 

You know, nothing this exciting ever happens around here… guess I should be careful what I wish for.

you enjoy this podcast, hope you’ll consider clicking share from your podcast app, or following me, or telling a romance-loving friend about it… 

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at poppy_confesses

Find show notes with links to what I've been babbling about at  confessions of a closet romantic.com 

Special hello to listeners in Turkey, Russia and the Ukraine. I'm so glad you're here…until next time, wishing you all a shame-free romantic caper of your very own.