I'm probably the last person you should turn to for a thoughtful and heartfelt discussion about the highs and lows of marriage, being the footloose and fancy free type. But while I may not know much about marriage in the real world, I do know about 'movie marriage', and I've come to the sad conclusion that most movie marriages -- for the lack of a better word -- suck. This epiphany came to me when I was watching the Tina Fey and Steve Carell comedy, Date Night, and I noticed that every time the movie would start to find its rhythm, the fun would grind to a halt as our two lead characters would have a heart-to-heart about their marital troubles (talk about a buzz kill).
I know what you're going to say: "But there has to be conflict!" Sure, but in the case of Date Night we already had a big fat conflict -- our lovable duo have been mistaken for a criminal couple and were plopped into the middle of a mob shakedown. Watching masters of wacky like Carell and Fey slow their roll for cliched exposition about how hard it is to keep the love alive was a disappointment to say the least, and I had to ask myself: Whatever happened to the 'Madcap Marrieds'?
If you go back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, fun and sexy married types were a staple of the screwball comedy genre. Audiences saw couples like Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man series happily in love, but there was still plenty of adventure and witty banter to keep audiences entertained. Never once did we have to sit and watch Nora sit Nick down to talk about her feelings -- they were just too busy having fun and getting drunk.
But even though modern romantic comedies (the watered down descendant of screwball romance) may borrow a certain sensibility from their predecessors, they have been tainted by the modern notion that marriage is hard. Which is great if you are watching Scenes from a Marriage, but for a film like Date Night (which is pure fantasy in the first place) would it really have been so hard to believe that Fey and Carell's relationship was just fine and dandy and let the story (and these two spectacular comedians) do their thing?
I don't mean to say that Date Night is the first movie guilty of this, because the history of modern rom-com is full of marriages that have lost their spark, near divorces, and suburban oppression. But I guess it's just a sign of the times that most modern audiences come from their own personal histories of broken homes and second families that they don't buy into the idea of a happy marriage like they used to.
Even in a movie as silly and ridiculous as Date Night, writers and directors just can't help themselves and they project a little marital misery onto the proceedings. The only problem is that I can't decide if that's because we're all too jaded for our own good, or maybe we just don't know any better.
What do you think? Would you rather watch a happily married couple or a miserable one? Are most movie marriages dysfunctional because that's what's most relatable for an audience?