My husband pointed me in the direction of a recent study which asserts that romantic comedies aka “chick flicks” are more than just the bane of his existence.
“Why do I always let you pick the movie?” he asked, the thin air really, when I chose Must Love Dogs out of a stack of mostly John Cusack movies last evening.
In a sentence, the study claims that romantic comedy aficionados are more likely to have unrealistic expectations of potential or current romantic partners, believe in soul mates and become disenchanted when their partners cannot read their minds. And I have to admit the study makes good points. The idea that love and marriage should follow the standard plot-line of a chick flick has probably been one of the most damaging in terms of the current state of the union between men and women (and possibly men and men and women and women though I can’t say for certain not having any statistical or anecdotal evidence to back me up).
As a female, however, I can say that girls are raised on a steady diet of misinformation and storybook ideals where romance, love, sex and monogamous coupling are concerned. Take love at first sight for example, it’s not possible, and yet we fall willingly into that abyss. One often fueled by hormones and, unfortunately, alcohol. What is nothing more than the normal chemistry occurring between those of similar orientations is labeled “love” to avoid acknowledgment of our baser instincts. From the earliest moment of indoctrination, girls are taught sex can only be good and only be permitted when love is involved. This creates a dilemma which must be solved and so – voila – we have love at first sight.
In Must Love Dogs, Cusack’s character is instantly smitten by the heroine played by Diane Lane. She, however, had been lust-struck by Dermot Mulroney’s character and, true to type when she caves in and sleeps with him knowing he is a womanizer, she justifies the encounter just short of love but the implications of deeper feelings hangs over the moment.
And then there is the soul mates thing. I don’t believe in soul mates though I do profess a belief in the idea that certain people are destined to spend time in our lives in some capacity for predetermined reasons. The idea there is but one match for a person is ludicrous, however, and I find it is mainly employed by those who, for whatever reason, are declining to risk their emotions but aren’t averse to others risking theirs.
Case in point in the film is the character played by Christopher Plummer. He is the father of Diana Lane’s character and a widower. Like her, he is using Internet dating sites to find romance, but unlike her he believes he has had his one true love and no other woman can ever come close. Consequently, he winds up dating three women simultaneously. In several scenes where the family gathers to celebrate, Plummer’s character is flanked by these women on a “group date” Brigham Young would have approved of.
Lane’s character calls him on this shallow use of others’ affections later in the movie ,and I heartily agreed with her. If a person can’t give another potential love the same chance and affection as a lost one, don’t play the “game” at all. It’s not only not fair; it’s morally questionable.
Mind reading is probably the most damaging of all romantic love concepts floating around. The movie plays with the concept that Cusack and Lane are on the same wave length but doesn’t travel too far into the idea except to exploit the misreading of signs and events that keep the two apart until the predictable “ah-ha” moment close to the end.
During our long distance dating days, I wrote a lot about the importance of staying in perpetual touch and communicating. I was as guilty of pulling the “he should be reading my mind” card as any woman during my younger days and even at times during my first marriage. Though it is difficult for me sometimes to say what I really think or ask for what I really want, anymore I speak rather than assume my demeanor will clue my husband to my mood, need or question.
I don’t take romantic comedies as anything more than an affirmation the world still believes in the idea of love even if it sucks at it. They are certainly not blue-prints for women or men to follow in any case.
Must Love Dogs was a cute flick. There are plenty of laugh aloud moments, mainly afforded by the supporting cast, and Lane and Cusack make a believable pairing.