Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It's Never About the Lemons

Sven and I polished off the last few episodes of this season's Entourage and then, because I had vetoed sports, found ourselves surfing through the movies on HBO On Demand. He picked the "Break-Up," a movie I saw a year ago - fittingly and prophetically - with my Mom and EXBF sometime before he and I broke up, for reasons very similar to those in the movie, actually.

It's a great movie. It's funny, the arguments are classic, and it's the quintessential depiction of how a guy should not behave in a relationship. From the beginning, Gary (Vince Vaughn) acts like a self-absorbed, immature, slothful infant, obsessed with video games, drinking beers, and of course sports. He doesn't appreciate when Brook (Jennifer Aniston), his girlfriend, picks up after him, makes a nice dinner, plans their social events, or tries to come up with things he'll enjoy doing. He doesn't appreciate when she thinks about him, and he doesn't think about her, choosing instead to take her for granted.

I'd like to say that I thought the characters were based on stereotypes, but honestly, I really can't say that because I think there's a lot of truth in how they were presented. I know so many women who give so much to their relationships, who are going out with men who don't act like they appreciate them, don't prioritize them, act selfishly and immaturely, and generally take them for granted. Of course I don't think that all men are like that, and in fact I know a number of men who are dating my girl friends who are fantastic, caring, wonderful partners.

But it's certainly a reoccurring pattern that I've seen pop up again and again, in many different contexts including brother-sister, mother-son, and dating relationships. I don't know why it happens. Maybe it's because women are, in general, more emotionally attuned, sensitive, and evolved than men? Maybe women are, in general, less selfish than men? Maybe women are raised to care for the people around them more than men are? Maybe women's needs are different then men and they try to get their needs met by doing to their men as they would have them do to them?

Or, maybe it's the way we raise our men where we allow them to grow up into over-sized boys who can get away with murder with a little bit of charm and a few crumbs of affection? Even when Vince Vaughn's character is acting like a child, we laugh at him and think he's funny. We think he's endearing. Maybe it's the classic "Girl meets Boy with issues. Girl wants to save Issues Boy. Issues Boy will not be saved from himself because his issues are too much fun for him"?

We give them multiple chances, patiently try to explain, talk things to death in an effort to help them understand, and then are hurt again and again when the same issues arise in new and different forms (same, same, but different). As Jennifer Aniston's character explained, it's not about the lemons, or the dishes, it's about wanting to be with someone who gives a shit about you.

I don't buy the end of the movie for a second, and think it was a mistake to tack on such an improbable, warm and fuzzy ending to what had been up until that point a fairly "real" movie, for Hollywood. You do not live with someone, break-up, move-out, feel devastated, get over your devastation, move on with your life and then see them on the street and look genuinely happy to see them. It wouldn't happen like that. There would be sudden intake of breath, a flicker of barely suppressed awkwardness, a desire to check yourself in the nearest mirror. Or, at the very least a reserved, cautiousness, a quick glance away, a clenched jaw. But, definitely not the warm, bubbly, wistful, open, doe-eyed greeting that Gary and Brook give one another when they bump into each other on the street only six months after wreaking havoc in each other's lives.

Maybe it would happen after a year or two, but not six months. Although, in the movie, Gary apologizes to Brook and makes an attempt (too little, too late, but an attempt nonetheless) to get her back, showing her that he actually did care about her, despite all the times his actions had made it appear that he had little regard for her. So, on second thought, because Gary was able to see the error of his ways and sincerely apologize for all the pain he had caused Brook, and because Brook went on to be far happier without him, maybe it is possible that she could have been genuinely happy to see him six months after the break-up?

...Maybe if she became a Buddha during those six months, but short of that, no way.


Starshine said...

I got the sense when I watched the movie, that it must not have been originally shot with that ending. My guess (and it's only a guess) is that test audiences didn't like the "sad" ending and wanted something happier. So they went back and shot the last scene. That would account for his noticable loss of weight and her change of hair color.

Gypsy said...

I was mostly unmoved by that movie. I found both characters flat. He's a schlub and she's a primadonna and I never understood why they were together in the first place.

As break-up movies go, I much prefer Love & Sex.

P.S. I blogged about this, too, a litle while ago. :) http://strangedarkgypsygirl.com/?p=220

Prue said...

I saw it with a friend of mine who thought the ending wasn't happy at all. She wanted the characters to eventually work it out and end up together. To her, the fact that they just ran into each other on the street and talked for only a short time was a very sad ending.

Buttercup said...

Starshine - Maybe that's right, but it didn't feel remotely realistic. Did you see how airbrushed Vince was in that picture?

Gypsy - How was she a primadonna? She wanted lemons for a center piece for her family, not the world.

Prue - I guess it's all relative. But, he wasn't nice to her so if they had ended up together that would have been disappointing. Unless he had radically and dramatically changed, which they never do.

Sparky Duck said...

I say this would be the perfect opportunity to broaden your horizons into the sports world, dontcha know

Anonymous said...

I think that you're right on the money when you say "it's the way we raise our men where we allow them to grow up into over-sized boys." I'm not married to one of these man/boys, but I certainly know some women who are. I don't really find them all that funny or endearing. But I would like to see this movie sometime. Your review of it has intrigued me.