A lovely evening, a tasty dinner and now a critically acclaimed movie. What a wonderful way to get to know one another better, to relax and enjoy each other’s company, or to cement a treasured relationship … right?
Frankly, you are better off watching something less acclaimed. Critics often go for edgy movies, which tends to mean daring or disturbing — in short, movies that Meg Ryan would have avoided under pain of death.
(There is something about Meg Ryan, isn’t there? Who wouldn’t want to snuggle with her until the weather clears? Warm fuzzies all around.)
Creepy. Depressing. Disconcerting — all relationship hazards that only bring doubt and distrust. Let’s leave these for another time, shall we? If your relationship tends to take on the personality of what you watch, avoid the following movies:
500 Days of Summer (2009)
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Zooey Deschanel, it’s not a bittersweet tale, but more of a bitter/even more bitter one. The theme, which unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, is that all those things that you think are cute and clever about your partner’s demeanor will grow up to beat you silly.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Written & directed by Woody Allen, it features Penélope Cruz in a role that garnered her an acting Oscar. Watch this and you will never know if your partner loves you or if he is staying because he thinks you are packing heat. How romantic.
The War of the Roses (1989)
Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny Devito, this movie could be used to discourage couples from marrying. Or dating. Or seeing movies.
Blue Valentine (2010)
Abortion, violence, infidelity and broken trust. I am beginning to believe that a nonlinear story spells doom for a relationship. I do not recommend it — the movie or the non-lineation. Some good acting though by Michelle Williams.
Funny Games (2007)
A slasher movie re-made 10 years later by the same director after the original came out in a different language. We didn’t really need another movie (the same, again?) that encourages families to stay home and keep a working cellular with them at all times. Warning: An actor breaks the fourth wall on occasion. Do not talk back to him.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet, it tries to keep the two love birds together after a famously failed attempt in Titanic. In that movie, however, death was a result of actual ice cold water and not just the biting winds of regret and resentment.
This one features Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and a couple of guys who cheat and then talk about it — highlighting the immaturity and indiscretion of men. So what did you do today honey?
American Psycho (2000)
reminds us to do sit-ups, exfoliate, get rich and use the correct font. Oh, yeah, and to sleep around and kill people — easy to see why they are making this into a Broadway musical. (By the way, just avoid any film with Christian Bale until the kids are in high school.)
Husbands and Wives (1992)
Here’s Woody Allen again, who documents married people arguing — this time using long takes by a single camera and poor lighting. Good times.
The Twilight Saga (2008-2012)
These are on this list on principle, really. Can any guy compare to the wealthy, un-dead, good-looking, skilled at decorating, high IQ and no body fat male vampires? Is anyone still awake? At least the books had a bit of action in the last couple of chapters.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)
The very idea that you could be married to someone for 10 years and not know them at all makes me itch. The redeeming factor is the part where they’re on the freeway in their underwear shooting at people chasing them.
There is nothing redeeming about this movie, except for Juliette Lewis’ acting. Mulder left The X-Files for this?
Six Days Seven Nights (1998)
This movie will kill any dream you ever had about Han Solo getting together with Leia, or Indiana Jones partnering up with the screaming blonde. This screaming blonde is worse than any screaming blonde in any decent movie. Someone make her stop.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
This shows us how far bad actors will go for a part. Is there anything creepier than betrayal by someone you thought had your back? This is Planned Parenthood to the extreme.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Another finely acted film of characters giving each other up for money and/or drugs. There are people who can commit to a relationship and protect each other — just so you know.
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
After seeing Erin Brockovich, I still don’t buy that Julia Roberts would allow anyone to treat her this poorly. My willingsuspension of disbelief couldn’t even cover this one.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Glenn Close still scares me silly. Actually, this is a good movie to see if you suspect your spouse may be even considering not being faithful. After the movie, take him home for rabbit stew.
In the Company of Men (1997)
The story of a man using a woman. I suppose these stories aim to help guys see the potential folly in their ways. I just don’t want women to see us men acting like such arrogant and abusive naves or inadvertent cads. There is more to men than what’s shown by Neil LaBute.
The Break-Up (2006)
Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. Sarcasm, biting remarks and then more sarcasm — this movie is actually harder to sit through than an actual break-up.
Sometimes relationships need encouragement — a little more Meg Ryan and a little less award-nominated angst. Pass up the despair, and then pass the popcorn.