Top ten worst movie relationshipsMovies about relationships tend to fall into two categories: making up and breaking up. But what about the long, muddy slog between love at first sight and re-activating your account on RSVP.com.au? Here’s ten movies that at least try to point out that love isn’t just about finding someone new – sometimes it’s just about pretending you’re having sex with someone new.
Sex, Lies & Videotape: True story: I first saw this tale of a videotaping pervert who sets Andie McDowell free from her crap relationship in a small country cinema where the audience laughed hysterically from start to finish. Presumably living in a small town means people trapped in a passionless, emotionally dead relationship become amazingly funny to you. Well, either that or every single person in the cinema knew a couple where the husband was having an affair with the wife’s sister.
The Dilemma: What would you do if you discovered your best friend’s wife was cheating on him? Presumably you’d just buy a copy of this film and mail it to him with “I really think you need to watch this” written on the cover. And when he’s done with it, borrow it back from him so you can stare gob-smacked at a supposed comedy featuring a married couple where one is off shagging a moron and the other is getting regular hand shandies down at the dodgiest Asian massage parlour ever. Who’s supposed to laugh at this stuff? Marriage counsellors?
Straw Dogs: Sam Peckinpah’s still-controversial film – yeah, we’re going to pretend the recent remake didn’t happen – about a wimp (Dustin Hoffman) who gets pushed too far by the thuggish locals in rural England usually attracts attention for a rape scene where it seems the female victim (Hoffman’s wife) just might be enjoying herself. There’s a lot more to it than that (in the uncut version at least), and once you look past the obvious tensions between the nerdish Hoffman and the burly local thugs this turns out to be a teeth-grittingly accurate look at a couple with nothing in common and little else to do but get on each other’s nerves. No wonder during the dramatic climax Hoffman’s wife tries to sell him out to people trying to kill him.
Waitress: You just know that a movie called Waitress is going to have a bad relationship thrown in there - actually, this entire top ten could have been filled with waitresses and the jerks who treat them like crap. But this one stands out above and beyond because a): the waitress is Keri Russell, and treating her bad is like kicking a kitten, and b): the jerk treating her bad has clearly made a 24/7 commitment to being a douchebag. We’re talking controlling behaviour, pay check grabbing, annoying car horn honking, demanding Keri love him more than the upcoming child she was hiding from him, offering her a great career in home made sex tapes once the baby’s born (but only if she can get back in shape) and eventually slapping her around. HE’S HITTING KERI RUSSELL! Sorry, I still haven’t gotten over the way they killed her in the first ten minutes of Mission Impossible: III
Norbit: Eddie Murphy displays his amazing ability to wear massive amounts of make-up in this tale of a dweeb (Murphy) and the rolling mountainous nightmare that is his horrible, horrible wife (also Murphy). Let’s ignore the many, many, many racist jokes here (Norbit was abandoned as a baby on the steps of an all-Asian orphanage!), and the countless fat jokes (overweight woman on a waterslide time!) and the many dubious sexist moments (women be crazy!) and just focus on the… wait, there’s nothing left.
Carnal Knowledge: This ground-breaking look at what men want out of relationships (short version: women, you don’t want to know) is a bit all over the place but the scenes between a clueless semi-impotent sexist (Jack Nicholson) and his Marilyn Munroe-esque girlfriend (Ann-Margret) are incredibly raw and real. Their final argument is the kind of thing you only overhear out on the street and even then you’re usually rushing to shut your window because who needs to spend the next nine months giving statements to the police?
500 Days of Summer: In contrast to Blue Valentine (which didn’t make it onto this list because it’s not really about the relationship itself, just the end of it), this film sucks. Wait, I had another point to make here… oh, right: while we’re told out the gate that this is about a failed relationship between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it then goes into long and painfully lingering detail about how their relationship failed, which boils down to “she’s just not that into you”. So basically, this is just a movie version of every single New Girl review where the reviewer used the made-up advertising word “adorkable” to describe Zooey Deschanel. Reviewer dude, she’s never going to go out with you.
What’s Love Got To Do With It: Two words: Ike Turner. Seriously, this is a movie about a woman (Tina Turner) in a relationship with slap-happy, wife-beating, ultra-controlling male supremacist Ike Turner. That’s going to be the dictionary definition of “bad relationship” even if you do get to sing “River Deep - Mountain High”.
The War of the Roses: Remember when Hollywood actually had the guts to make a comedy – even a super-black one – about divorce? These days you can’t even make a romantic film that doesn’t end with every single cast member happily paired off. So these days this 1989 film – where Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, who want to divorce but can’t because they can’t figure out how to divvy up their stuff, go at it hammer and tongs – is both a refreshing change and kind of shocking. What, you mean when love dies people don’t go instantly to looking wistfully at their former partner and thinking about the good times they shared? Damn, Katherine Heigl lied to me again.
The Twilight Films: Say whaaa? Surely everyone knows that the relationship between vampire Edward and comatose mope Bella is our generations’ Love That Will Never Die? Maybe it is – until you actually think about their actual relationship, at which point you realise the bond between an ultra-controlling chump and his super-passive love slave is pretty much Act One, Scene One in every other relationship on this list. The second Bella shows any interest in anything outside their amazing love it’s going to be train wreck time: “Hey, Edward, just going out to learn a job-related skill of some kind” “Dammit, no wife of mine is going to work! Or leave the house. And stop watching The Vampire Diaries, you know I only like True Blood.”
Join the conversation below