First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for the thoughtful, insightful comments about my “girly girl” dilemma. You guys are so smart!
I was listening to NPR yesterday and “This American Life” featured a piece about an underground phenomenon: apparently, many intelligent, cultured men and women cry watching mediocre or bad romantic comedies on planes. Who knew? Except, um, me.
I like to think I have good taste in movies. Among my list of favorites are some hits with critics: “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Casablanca”, “Heat”, “Blue”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “The Insider”, and “The Lord of the Rings Triology”. (What? It won Oscars!)
However, I am a sucker for bad romantic comedies. I have seen “Sweet Home Alabama” a number of times (it was not coincidentally mentioned as a movie that makes men cry on the program) and get teary each time during the beach scene. I probably have watched “Steel Magnolias” 705 times. I will weep at the end, again, the 706th time I see it.
The movies that make grown men cry, as mentioned in the NPR piece, were: “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Freaky Friday” and, hilariously, “Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights”, which had an urbane male movie critic in tears during the final dance showdown. Now, I should explain that the main narrator, who confessed to his own tears, triggered during an AMEX commercial, tried to explain the phenomenon away by blaming it on flying. Only during a plane ride did these sophisticated, normally unemotional people cry during these movies.
But I am not so sure I buy that explanation. I think that they get “stuck” watching these films as part of the inflight entertainment and get caught up in them because of that. I also think these saccharine films serve a universal purpose: by tapping into our deep-seated emotions, like anger and sadness, they help us to release these emotions.
I decided to test out this theory by watching “Valentine’s Day”. I remember hearing rumors that it was dog poo. And it is.
Critical observations on “Valentine’s Day”:
1. Ashton Kutcher is a TERRIBLE actor! How does he land leading roles?
2. Jessica Biel is surprisingly likeable.
3. Apparently LA is a city that contains only 20 people, and they run into each other again and again.
4. The director would like us to believe that a publicist on the day of a huge press conference and a florist on his biggest business day of the year somehow have plenty of time to mope around about their personal problems.
5. It must be said again: The guy in my third grade play about trees, who played Redwood #5, is a better actor than Ashton Kutcher.
Yet, there is one scene that was meticulously and perfectly edited, and very effective. It’s a scene in which Jennifer Garner’s character (spoiler alert!) discovers her boyfriend is married. She comes across a heart-shaped pinata and beats the crap out of it. I actually stood and screamed “Yes!” as she demolished it. The music playing in the scene is from “Monsoon Wedding”, I believe. (That was a much superior movie, by the way.)
And I also cried when a long-separated mother and son are reunited.
I hated myself later.