Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy movie couples?

A few days ago a friend posted this on Facebook:

Saw a movie tonight that involved a married couple being miserable. *shudder* I think next time I see anything wedding related I might just run away shrieking.
Of course I started thinking about couples in movies. And it's true, many are unhappy, sniping at one another, and make me wonder why they are even together in the first place. But there are happy movie couples out there, ones in positive relationships, who aren't saccharine sweet. Here are 10 movies with couples who aren't miserable, who might have problems, but whose love is always a given.

  • The movie that came to mind first is last year's Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film (and was a nominee for Best Picture), Amour. If you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend it. In it, an elderly couple, Georges and Anne, after a long marriage, face a challenge--but their love is never in question. This is a film that left me feeling wrecked, but in a good way. 

  • Another fantastic love story in film, filled with the small, quiet moments that make a relationship, is Carl and Ellie in Up. In about eight minutes, we see a truly lovely love story from beginning to end. And how that love lasts beyond.

The internet is right in this case.

  • A little unconventional, but I also submit Harry and Helen Tasker from True Lies. Sure, he's lied about what he does, but their love for each other isn't in doubt. They face those lies, have an adventure in which they discover a lot about themselves and each other, and come out stronger on the other side.
  • Phil and Claire Foster from Date Night may be a little bored, but they are bored together. They have a pretty typical family life. And that's not a bad thing. In fact, the strength of their relationship comes in handy on the inadvertent adventure they find themselves on.
  • Do you remember the 1989 film Parenthood, on which the current tv show is based? If you haven't seen it, go watch it. Really. Especially if you have or are planning to have kids. The various Buckman couples face their problems, but there are plenty of pretty positive relationships in the movie, along with kids puking and other hilarity. Are they all perfect? No. But they sure show a lot of love, and Grandma sure is smart.
  • An overarching theme of the Harry Potter movies (and books) is motherly love. Which brings me to Molly and Arthur Weasley. Through all the books/movies, their relationship is never in doubt, and their love for their family is one of their biggest strengths.
  • One of my favorite movies, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, centers around an engaged couple facing a huge obstacle (he's black, she's white, it's 1967) and her parents. Both couples fit the mold of not miserable. Joey Drayton and John Prentiss are a team, facing a world that questions their right to be together, including her father. Matt and Christina Drayton may disagree, and about their daughter's intended they most certainly do, but they clearly love each other and have a solid relationship. 
  • Rock Hudson and Doris Day made a trio of movies. In Send Me No Flowers, they are George and Judy Kimball, a couple who prove they are meant for each other, despite his hypochondria. The Hudson/Day movies are fluff, and sometimes wincingly dated, but go watch anyway if you're looking for a light comedy.
  • Top Gun may center around Maverick and Charlie, but I've always loved Goose and Carole. There is never any question that these two characters love each other and have a good time together. One of the most memorable lines in the whole movie is Carole's, despite her being a minor character: "Hey, Goose, you big stud!...Take me to bed or lose me forever." 
  • Pixar created another good movie couple with Bob and Helen Parr (Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl) in The Incredibles. Is Bob a little bored? Yes. But it's not with his wife; it's with the lie they are living. Do they have things to work out? Of course, especially when he starts lying to her so he can be a superhero again. Are they miserable or nasty? Nope. We're always sure that they love each other and their family. 
One thing I notice in common with a lot of these is that the trial they face is often from outside the couple. They are a unit, facing something together. Movie couples don't have to be antagonistic to be interesting. They don't have to be all lovey-dovey either. 

Can you think of more? Share your picks in the comments.


  1. Great list. There's a moment in The Incredibles that makes me tear up a little every single time-- it's after the mom rescues the dad and she's yelling at him for lying and sneaking off and dragging the whole family into trouble and he says something like, "Honey, I know your mad and you want to fight, but I'm still just happy to see you." So, so great.

    1. Yes! It's interesting that two of the picks on our list are Pixar movies. But, they do a great job with relationships, whether couples or just friends.

  2. I've always loved the married couple, Norm and Marge, in Fargo. It's a wonderful, and entirely non-sentimental, portrait of a loving, respectful, mutually beneficial relationship, and my personal gold standard.

    1. Another great example. I knew we'd miss some, but this was just the first 10 my husband and I came up with last night as I was typing. If you think of any more, keep sharing! Good movie couples need to get more attention.

  3. Harrison Ford and Annette Bening in "Regarding Henry". True, in the beginning of the film, "Henry" (Ford's character) is a real jerk and it looks like their relationship is going nowhere, but after tragedy befalls them, we see the relationship blossom and rejuvenate. They face the tragedy together by staying together. It's one of those movies that I used to watch over and over and made me want to become a physical therapist for a time.

    1. Love that film! And another excellent choice.


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