I watched a pretty disappointing movie tonight.  It was disappointing because I thought it had potential when I read the little blurb about it.  It could have been so much better.

Definitely, Maybe. Perhaps the title should have told me that this would be a wishy-washy relativistic flick…

My friend Katy warned me about it… she watched it on a plane and disliked it.  A plane– aren’t all movies better on planes?

But I didn’t heed her advice.  I wanted to see it for myself.  I will spare you the running commentary I jotted down while the movie ran.  I began jotting my thoughts down in the opening credits, when the movie appeared to have some promise as a commentary of modern society.  [He spends the opening credits with headphones in his ears, walking through crowded New York city.  Headphones in the ears is a HUGE pet peeve of mine (um, welcome to the world people.  Why don’t you join it?) and it was the perfect scene illustrating how some people are so alone while surrounded by so many.]

And therein lies the problem.  It should have been a commentary, a critique, of modern society.  Instead?  It embraced it.

Marriage is “an institution that fails as often as it succeeds,” one character quips.  Does the movie protest that?  Nope.  It practically celebrates it.  When the daughter of the main character is in anguish over her father divorcing her mother, does the movie challenge its viewers to ponder divorce’s effect on children?  Not much.  When the same daughter questions, “If they didn’t want a baby, why did they have sex?”, does the movie proceed to show the consequences of casual sex?  Not.at.all.

If you think you may like someone?  Sleep with them.

If you think you love someone?  Move in with them.

If you’re talking to someone of the opposite sex?  Randomly passionately kiss them.

The story centers around a man who is in the middle of a divorce from his wife.  When his daughter questions him about how her parents met, he reluctantly tells her (although with great detail, I might add.  Much more detail than he probably should have shared with an eight year old) the story of how he ended up marrying her mother– but changes the names of the girls involved in the story, so she has to guess which of the three women her father has been involved with (and I mean involved with) is actually her mother.

The story could be cute… if you didn’t remember with thirty minutes left that the end of it all is going to be him getting a divorce from one of the three women you’ve just watched him fall in “love” with… His daughter Maya comes to the realization at the same time it reoccurred to me, and she wails that she knows there will be no happy ending– because she knows her parents are getting a divorce.

Before her father, Will, leaves her with “you are the happy ending,” you are forced to watch him stiffly meet his wife again, to return Maya to her– just after you watched an hour and a half of him falling in “love” with her.  I literally felt ill watching it.  I thought I was actually going to cry… these two were supposed to be in love.  And now… there’s nothing there?  They’ve been married for seven or eight years, and now nothing?  What about Maya?  What about a little girl who needs a mother and a father?  What about Maya, who has just listened to how and why her father fell in love with her mother?

What is he saying to her?

If the movie ended here, with the entire audience feeling as ill as I was feeling, it might sort of succeed as a commentary on the wretched state in which our society finds itself.  If you were left with the suffering of Maya as she is affected by her parents’ decision, if you were left questioning where such happiness had gone, if you were left chiding Will for being such a wuss, if you were left wondering, uncomfortable, upset, confused…

But you aren’t.  Instead, Will finds new love in an old love.  He finds “love” with the next girl (who was, by the way, one of the original three), and somehow it all is okay.

So the lesson?

That marriage can be “right” for now, but may not be “right” later.  That one girl fits now, and one girl fits later.  It’s perfectly fine that he was married to one woman for seven years… but gosh, now it doesn’t really work.  Now it doesn’t feel right.  So now he’ll go back to another one.  And that will be right.

….for now.  They don’t say that, but you can hardly feel satisfied watching him with the next girl when you’re not quite sure why this should succeed any more than the first girl.  (After all, there’s that third one out there that just sort of disappeared…. do I hear second divorce and sequel?)

I don’t even believe in casual dating.  But casual marriage?  But that’s exactly what Definitely, Maybe sells.  I definitely love you.  Maybe.  For now.

Advertisements