Going to a movie is the old standby. If it seems too obvious or too lame for a special night out, consider a movie with a twist. Central Ohio theaters offer a variety of options to make movie nights more affordable and memorable.

Going to a movie is the old standby. If it seems too obvious or too lame for a special night out, consider a movie with a twist. Central Ohio theaters offer a variety of options to make movie nights more affordable and memorable.

Melissa: We decided we were in the mood for a low-key and hopefully low-cost night out. I thought it would be fun to see a movie (especially since the last thing we saw in the theaters was Toy Story 3).

Geoff: Given a half-dozen ideas for a night out, going to a movie is usually about my last choice. I can get my fix from Netflix. We rarely went to the movies before kids. So it's tough to imagine a movie worth the price of a sitter.

Melissa: I enjoy movie nights more than Geoff, but I don't entirely disagree with his argument. Movies aren't exactly cheap, especially after paying for concessions and a sitter. Sitting in silence for a couple hours isn't a very romantic way to spend quality time with your spouse, either. But I do enjoy films, so being married to a reluctant moviegoer has taught me to be resourceful.

Geoff: Beer. She knows she can bait me with beer and food.

Melissa: That's part of it. I've figured out that for Geoff (and to a lesser extent, me) it's usually more fun if it's not just a trip to the movies. Ideally, it's an experience. Theaters that serve adult beverages and food add to the experience. Also, I've learned that with movies, like with anything else, you don't necessarily have to pay full price.

Geoff:Melissa found that the Drexel Theatre in Bexley hosts bargain night on Mondays ($5) and you've got great food and drink available at the counter or the adjoining Radio Caf. Marcus Theatres in Pickerington and Columbus sell drinks or popcorn for $2 on Tuesdays. The Pickerington location also has teamed up with a few local restaurants for a dinner and a movie special. Other area theaters offer rewards programs for regular customers. So we're talking food and beer and a movie, at a reduced price. OK, maybe a movie's not such a bad idea.

Melissa:We opted for the Drexel on a Monday night. Coordinating a sitter on a school night meant we had to see an early show to get her home by 10. The upside: we didn't have to put the boys to bed - she did.

Geoff: Guys, be very careful. Many of these deals are for arthouse flicks. This keeps things interesting, but make sure you know your options. Melissa said our choices at the Drexel were "Black Swan" or "The King's Speech." The first being an obvious chick flick, I warily opted for the second. As the previews rolled, I counted my blessings. There was "Blue Valentine" with a montage of scenes involving a man and woman crying. Then there was "Rabbit Hole" with a couple smothering from grief after the death of their small child. Clearly, I could have done worse than a movie about a stuttering king. To steel my nerve, however, I stepped out to order a second Irish coffee and a box of Sno Caps.

Melissa: Little did I know Geoff was silently dissing all the coming attractions. I was plotting another date. Girls' night out, anyone?

Geoff: Fantastic movie. More than a historical piece, it was a riveting family drama of universal themes: paralyzing personal insecurities, empowering marital bonds, sibling rivalry, infidelity, the awkwardness of assuming responsibility for aging parents. Going to a movie may not be conducive to conversation in the moment, but this one left us with plenty to talk about afterward. And did I mention the Irish coffee?

Melissa:The movie was fantastic. Colin Firth proved to be more than just eye candy. He owned the role of King George VI.