Monday, February 14, 2011

10 lessons about relationships from Movies

So maybe it's Valentine's Day for you, maybe it's Single Awareness Day, I say screw the holidays and watch movies!

In honor of this semi-glorious greeting card day, I'm doing a list of some of my favorite movies about relationships and the lessons they teach us. NOTE: These are not nessesarily romantic comedies, or even movies mainly ABOUT relationships; if that was the case, all that would teach us is that people can fall in love within hours, always date the person who's the exactly opposite of you as long as their hot, and two people will always get back together in a monogamous relationship with no repercussions.

Yeah. Sure. As if. Spoilers probably. In no specific order:


The story: Boy falls in love with teacher and does ridiculous illegal things to get her affection.

The Lesson: You can't always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you get what you need.

This is a Wes Anderson movie, with Jason Schwartzman as the lead, and Bill Murry as his older friend, so already you should see this movie. Max Fischer fancies himself a renaissance man of Rushmore academy by joining ever club concievable, but in reality, he has horrible grades. After reading a quote from a library book, he falls in madly love with a teacher, Miss Cross and goes about saving classes and building an aquarium for her. He tries to get her throughout the entire movie and acts like a real jerk when he doesn't.

He eventually gets kicked out of school and meets a bright student, miss Margaret Yang, in his new public school who really has the hots for him. He dislikes her because she's actually a good student with decent grades, but in the end he finds out she's just as messed up as he is, finally letting go of his crush on Miss Cross. Sure he didn't get the prize he was looking for, but he found someone even better, the person he needed.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

The story: Boy falls in love with a girl but then has to beat the girl's seven evil ex's to win her affection.

The Lesson: Breaking up is haaaard.

At the beginning of the movie, Scott is "dating" a high schooler, Knives Chang. But as soon as he sees Ramona roller-skate through his dreams, he...well just starts dating Ramona. It's not after goading from his roommate does he do the right thing and break it off with the quickest, worst way possible.

Guys, gals, I know its tough. I feel you. You do really like this person and you don't want to hurt them, and you really wish you were still dating them if it wasn't for reasons X, Y and Z, and they deserve better and you want to leave them better than you found them sure sure, but be an adult about it. Don't be a Scott Pilgrim.

Forgetting Sarah Marshal

The story: Boy gets dumped by girl, boy tries to get over girl by going on vacation, boy meets same girl at vacation spot with other boy she's dating.

The lesson: Getting dumped sucks.

This is the movie I most recognized with when I had my bad break up. And it really does a great job of showing it: He goes through fits, he cries, he sees her everywhere, oh and now he gets to see some guy make out with her, isn't that fun? NO IT'S NOT I'LL STAB THEM BOTH IN THE EYE WITH MY-all I'm saying is that being dumped and breaking up sucks, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's just going to hurt for awhile and you just have to let it run it's course.

Also, Aldous Snow is a total dick.

Art School Confidential

The story: Boy goes to art school to become an aspiring artist but everyone there is crazy.


Ok, maybe that's not the best lesson, but it's true. They're crazy. They have knives. I've seen them. It's a universal truth that, as the great Voltaire says, "All men are dumb, all women are crazy." ESPECIALLY artists. Trust me. I am an artist, we are all batshit crazy, that's our job.

Anyways, in the movie, Jerome is a virgin and wants to pop his cherry, so his friend tries to find the perfect artsy girl for him. Three crazy art broads later, Jerome is still a virgin. Honestly, I think I've met all three of these girls. So yeah, just be careful out there.

500 Days of Summer

The story: boy mets girl, girl dumps boy, boy tries to get girl back.

The lesson(s): Don't look for the girl of your dreams and things may not always be working out like you think they are.

Tom was expecting to fall in love. He had an idea in his head of what the relationship would be and what she would be like. She would be quirky, and love all the same things he does. Then Summer comes along and fills that quota and he absolutely knows she's the girl for him. But sometimes, its just not that person. Don't visualize your expectations onto someone else. And just because you think the relationship is going well, doesn't make it so. Learn how to read your significant other better so you're not taken by surprise when she suddenly wants to break up.

Sweeney Todd

The story: Boy loses girl, boy goes insane, boy meets new girl, boy and girl kill people and turn them into pies, everyone dies at the end.

The lesson: A relationship cannot be built upon lies.

Mrs. Lovett really wants her relationship to work out with the butcher barber extraordinaire, Todd, so she keeps a couple of things form him about his former wife. Well, that hurts her and her relationship in the end. Very much. Literally. So yes, if you're just starting a relationship, be upfront about things in the beginning, even if it risks the relationship. It'll be better to get it out of the way now than to have it explode in your face later.

The Prestige

The story: boy and another boy are magicians, one boy is married but then that doesn't work out and other boy gets a new girl and then the first boy gets an assistant girl and aaaaaaaah crap. Whatever.It's about magicians and it's directed by Chris Nolan and contains David Bowie and has wolverine battling batman so just go see it.

The lesson: Try juggling two and you'll lose both.

One of the magicians meets a girl and they get married and have a daughter, but then he gets a new assistant and they fall in love. Granted, it's Scarlet Johannson as an assistant, but still, it doesn't end well for either of his lady friends. So if you're in a commited relationship, stay committed. Or else: David Bowie.

The Mask

The story: Boy gets magical mask so he can become a crazy cartoon hero guy and woo a girl.

The lesson: The nice girl isn't always the nice girl.

Oh, you didn't expect to see this in here, did you? I love this movie for this message, and I really wish they'd have it more often. Stanley Ipkiss really really REALLY wants to go after the incredibly hot blonde that sings at the lounge, but his brain is telling him he should probably just go with down-to-earth Peggy because she's a real normal woman and not some snooty floozy. But what happens when shit hits the fan? The nice common girl sells him out and he ends up with the hot blonde! WHAT?

Has anyone else noticed that trend in movies lately? Well not just lately, I guess it's an ongoing theme to subliminally keep common folk in line. Have you seen this before? The main guy is obsessed with the really really hot girl but friends with the still-hot-but-she's-wearing-glasses-so-it-doesn't-count girl, and in the end he finds out the hot girl isn't real and the real girl has been in front of him this whole time.

Ugh man, stop stereotyping people. See, don't put expectations on people. Just because a girl or guy looks nice, doesn't make it so, and visa versa for the exceedingly hot people. And why can't we get some more movies where there are two very reasonable choices?

The Mummy Returns

The story: Boy and girl have to stop an evil mummy from controlling the world.

The lesson: You have to be selfless for the relationship to work.

Wah? The mummy returns? Really? Have I gone mad? Well it's quite possible. But this has the quintessential selfless relationship scene so cheesy it works. Rick and Evy are the good couple and the mummy and his resurrected bride are the evil couple. And wouldn't you know it? Both Rick and the mummy are dangling over the pit of hell while the temple is crumbling to pieces. What does the good couple do? Well, they both think only of each other's safety, so Evy rushes to help Rick up, while Rick tells her to just go. What does the evil couple do? The Mummy screams for his bride to come help him up, while she runs away screaming that she can't.

Well obviously with their team work the good couple survives. The mummy, resigned to his fate, lets go and tumbles down while his bride accidentally trips and falls into a pit of scorpions. Should have gone to couples counseling. But it just proves that both parties have to be think only of each other for the partnership to fully work.

Streets of Fire

The story: Girl gets kidnapped, Boy has to rush in and save her.

The lesson: sometimes, even if you love each other, it just doesn't work out.

Streets of Fire is a great classic 80's movie, and if you haven't seen it you should definately go check it out. It's a rock and roll fable. There's rock ballads, and fighting and even has William Defoe as a leather wearing bad guy. But here's the thing, I'm going to spoil the ending for you: The guy doesn't get the girl in the end. Sure they love each other and they'd do anything for each other and they're both hot so the laws of the movie gods say they should stay together, but she's a rock star and he's a tough guy. They just don't fit. And truth be told, that's just the way ti goes sometimes. Two people could be really perfect for each other, but they just don't Gel.

I hope you enjoyed this random list of movies. Do you agree with the lessons? What are your guys' favorite movies with relationships and what lessons can you learn from them?


  1. Nice compilation. Let's not forget an important lesson from Scott Pilgrim, though. What I really hate about the Knives character is that she is consistently treated like crap once Romona enters the picture, and she's still trying to get back with that douchebag. Guys, don't be a Scott Pilgrim. Ladies, don't be a Knives! Have some self-dignity and let the douchebag ex be someone else's problem.

    And my 2 cents on Sweeney Todd; in the immortal words of House: "Everyone lies."

  2. That's true about knives, but I tend to forgive her more because she's a high school student and this was her first fling, and we were all like that after our first break up. But it's true. Ladies, don't be a Knives.

    My friend had a good critique of the film on facebook. Everyone lying and sinful died at the end while the two innocent lovers survived. So I think the lesson is don't be a jerkbag or you'll get stabbed in the throat :D

  3. OOh...I like that! (The Sweeney Todd bit.)

    In regards to Knives, I guess her age would have a lot to do with her persistence. It's just hard to watch because I know MANY girls who have been Knives. (Myself included!) It's painful when you see it played out in front of you.

  4. Ah. I can see why it would be painful then. I hate all the awkward moments in movies because it reminds me of the awkward moments I've gone through.

  5. I know that feeling well...I had heartburn all through Scott Pilgrim because of Knives. The irony- I was watching it with my ex-friend who would have been "Young Neil" in the movie....awkward!!