Mainstream Monday: Love Hurts

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‘Oh, the things we do for love’. Among the plethora of descriptions and definitions of love there is at least one thing we can agree on: it makes us act in ways we never anticipated. Love can push a person to do some crazy things. Things they would normally find too mortifying or too dangerous to consider otherwise. Many a mighty woman or man has been felled by the strong hand of love, or something like it. Or, to quote nearly every romantic comedy in existence, maybe it’s just the ‘idea of love’. Whatever the case may be films have magnified this odd aspect of our relationships giving us several examples of people who, for the sake of love, have been willing to do things they would never be willing to do under normal circumstances. And not just in the realm of romantic love. I’ve also included a few examples of the lengths some will go for their friends and/or family as well. Without further ado, let’s take a journey through a few film characters for whom the phrase ‘love hurts’ took on a whole new meaning.

Along Came Polly

Love Hurts With: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When you get right down to it, a man will do some crazy things to snag the girl of his dreams; even if it means suffering intense intestinal discomfort, as was the case for Ben Stiller’s Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly. You see, Reuben suffers from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). This problem is magnified tenfold when he begins to date free spirit Polly (Jennfier Aniston), whose extensive globe-trotting has netted her a taste for exotic cuisine. After sweating rather profusely through a particularly spicy dinner, Reuben accompanies Polly home, excusing himself to the bathroom a mere three or four feet from her listening ears. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen on a date? How about relieving your poor suffering self of IBS symptoms, only then realizing there’s not a shred of toilet paper in sight? Luckily there’s a hand-embroidered washcloth that was a gift from Polly’s dead Grandmother nearby. Nothing bad can come of using and flushing that, right?

Mr. Wrong

Love Hurts With: Broken Bones

Chances are you’ve never seen Ellen DeGeneres’ failed romantic comedy Mr. Wrong. If you have, chances are you regret it. But if you have seen it, you will remember one of the most striking and painfully misguided displays of affection in cinematic history. Bill Pullman is Whitman Crawford, the titular Mr. Wrong. Whitman wins Martha Alston (Degeneres)’s heart by pretending to be a soft-hearted poet/independent investor. But when she encourages him to be himself, his real convenience store-robbing, opera-interrupting, completely insane self begins to emerge, leaving Martha with no choice but to break things off. In a last ditch effort to keep her, Whitman offers to prove his love for her….by breaking his finger. He literally grabs a finger, declares his love for her, and snaps it like a twig. Just one more way Mr. Wrong is painful to watch.

The Big Hit

Love Hurts With: Stress-related abdominal discomfort

Melvin Smiley (Mark Wahlberg) is a hit man without a killer instinct, at least when it comes to his personal life. Caught between the love of his life, Pam (Christina Applegate), and his mistress Paris (Avery Brooks) who refuses to return the Son of Kong VHS he rented for her, Melvin has a lot of stress in his life. That’s why he spends most of his days pounding bottles of milk of magnesia. He’s got a fridge stocked full of them. Unable to stand up to his scheming partners, his mistress, his live-in girlfriend, her parents, an angry video store clerk and the kidnapped chinese girl that gets dumped in his lap, Melvin’s got more than a few reasons to chug that disgusting concoction.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Love Hurts With: Numerous beat-downs

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is just a normal dude, playing bass in a band with an awesome name (“Sex Bob-Omb”, awesome). He’s dating a high school chick named Knives (which is also awesome), and everything is going great. Until he runs across the beautiful and intriguing Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He will win her heart, even if it means doing battle with her seven evil EXES (not ex-boyfriends). Poor Scott battles some kind of weird irish-dancing magic attack, sound dragons, action star stunt doubles, a sword-wielding Jason Schwartzman (twice!), an almighty vegan and even “Nega-Scott” for Ramona’s heart. But in the end maybe all he was really fighting for was self-respect…..No, I’m sticking with Ramona.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Love Hurts With: Possible Mental Illness

In one of the most creative films of the last decade, Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) fall in love in that whirlwind way that film characters are wont to do. But when things begin to fall apart (as they are wont to do in the real world), Joel and Clementine each make the difficult choice to avail themselves of the services of Lacuna, Inc., a firm that specializes in extracting portions of memory. Hence the name, Lacuna (look it up people, I can’t do all the work for you). Trapped in a cloud of crumbling memories of his time with Clementine, Joel begins to realize his mistake and desperately searches for a way to hold on to what he’s losing. Hearts either broken or full of love can push us to our limits, and Joel certainly explores both extremes to recover his mind’s missing pieces.

Ghost

Love Hurts With: Kissing Whoopi Goldberg

Nobody puts Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) in an eternal corner. At least not until he’s had one last love connection with his bereaved Molly (Demi Moore). Sam hangs around long enough to take care of some crooked…well, crooks as well. But his real mission is to let Molly know he’ll always be with her, in one way or another. Even if that way is in the form of a phony psychic named Oda Mae (Goldberg). Oda Mae has gotten pretty good at pretending to connect with the other side, which is probably why she’s so disturbed when Sam forms an actual connection with her. After bugging her to no end, Sam finally arranges the meet-up he’s dreamt of all along, a one-on-one with Molly, offering him the chance to speak to her one last time. And yes, kiss her. Kiss her, using Whoopi Goldberg’s body. Demi Moore seems to enjoy the kiss, so kudos to her for proving all of my doubts about her acting ability wrong.

Troy

Love Hurts With: Abject Humiliation

Helen of Sparta was known as the most beautiful woman in the world, so she was obviously played by Charlize Theron. No, wait (checks IMDB), actually it was Diane Kruger. That’s okay…I guess. When Paris (Orlando Bloom) lays eyes on Theron *sigh* I mean Kruger, he must have her. And by have her I mean not only seduce her, but convince her to leave her hulking husband Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) and return with him across the sea to Troy to become Helen of (you guessed it) Troy. This is just the excuse Agememnon (Brian Cox) needs to declare war on Troy and so the infamous battle begins. When things seem to come to a standstill, Menelaus emerges to challenge Paris to a duel for the heart of Helen. As we all know, Orlanda Bloom isn’t the most stalwart of fellows (Legolas notwithstanding), so after he gets his Helen-loving self handed back to him soundly for a minute or two, he wimpers his way back to the feet of his big brother Hector (Eric Bana). It’s the second most humiliating thing that happened to Troy in Homer’s epic. The first of course being accepting a giant wooden Horse through their front gates with zero inquiries. I mean, haven’t they ever read about the Trojan Hor—-oh….nevermind.

Drillbit Taylor

Love Hurts With: Sword-Catching

Okay so here’s an example of love of the not-so-romantic kind, at least I hope. Owen Wilson plays Drillbit Taylor, a homeless veteran who spends his nights camped out in the hills along the California coast, and his mornings showering in the nude right next to the highway. When he’s not engaging in either of those illegal activities, he’s stealing food from half-finished plates on restaurant patios and discussing his dream of relocating to Alaska with his similarly financially-challenged friends. When he stumbles across three boys looking for a bodyguard to protect them from a demented man-child of a school bully, Drillbit takes advantage and pretends to be a hard-case. Under the guise of training them for combat, he takes their money and steals from their home until he’s finally gained enough for his dream move. But when the bully calls his bluff and the kids realize he’s a fake, they cut him off and out of their lives. Now alone they decide to face off with the bully and his friend themselves. Things actually work out pretty great for them, that is until they turn their backs on the fallen bully and his conveniently located samurai sword. In a murderous rage he throws the sword end over end at one of the boys. Meanwhile, back on the farm (or wherever), Drillbit realizes those kids have given him a much better reason to be alive than dreams of Alaska and returns just in time to catch the sword…with his bare hand. Sure, it costs him a finger or two, but that’s what love is all about, right? Just ask Bill Pullman.

Let Me In

Love Hurts With: Serial Murder

In the 2010 (superior, in my opinion) American remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In, the endearing Chloe Moretz plays Abby, a centuries-old vampire who likes blood. Like, a lot of it. In fact, that’s all she can eat, as evidenced by her vomitous reaction to “Now and Laters”. Of course people might get wise to a little girl (or is she?!) vampire running around killin’ folks, so Abby has developed a nice little plan to account for such things. Abby has recruited Richard Jenkins, known simply as “The Father”, to commit numerous murders as her darker self requires, draining blood from the victims to keep her vampiric hunger fed and satisfied. But The Father is getting old and tired of playing this game. The lifetime of murder his love for Abby has bought him has worn on him enough that he begins to make mistakes. Abby needs some fresh blood, so to speak. Luckily for immortal Abby, a young suitor named Owen (Kodi Smit-Mcphee) lives just next door…

Armageddon

Love Hurts With: Getting Exploded

I haven’t taken an official vote or anything, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Armageddon has the Michael Bay-iest IMDB description of any film anywhere, Bay or otherwise. Check it out: “When an asteroid the size of Texas is headed for Earth the world’s best deep core drilling team is sent to nuke the rock from the inside.” If that doesn’t make you want to blow something up while waving an American Flag then, well, this film is not for you. Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) is the leader of the totally realistic outer space drilling team and as such is faced with a hard decision: do I let the annoying prick A.J. (Ben Affleck) who’s determined to marry my daughter Grace (Liv Tyler) stay behind to explode the meteor because he drew the short straw? Or do I sacrifice myself out of my love for my daughter and hope the annoying prick can make her happy in my stead? If only he’d chosen option #1, saving the world from the disaster that is Gigli.

I Love You, Man

Love Hurts With: Fighting Lou Ferrigno

Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) and Sidney Fife (Jason Segel) may have met purely by chance at an open house run by Real Estate agent Peter but theirs is a relationship born of destiny. These two form an entirely different pair of soulmates than the ones we’ve explored at some length already in this article. But this friendship is a bond as powerful and indestructible as any other. After all, it must take some kind of monumental motivation to give Sidney reason to attack the man who played the Incredible Hulk himself, body-builder Lou Ferrigno, when he goes behind Peter’s back to hire a competing agent to sell his home. Of course things end badly for Mr. Fife, but you have to admire the courage one man can have when defending the friend he holds most dear. Isn’t it bromantic? (I hate myself.)

Just Friends

Love Hurts With: Complete Life Re-Adjustment

Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) is in love with his best friend Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart), and who wouldn’t be? Jamie is smart, sexy and downright cool. But she’s painfully unaware of Chris’ feelings and has relegated her chubby chum to that most heartbreaking of homesteads, “The Friend Zone”. [Awesome alliteration Greg! Thanks random reader!] The film Just Friends is really just one painful attempt after another for Chris to win Jamie’s heart, beginning with Chris putting on a way too small kitten sweater Jamie has bought him for graduation. He moves away, goes on a painful diet, completely reinvents himself and becomes a successful ladies man and record company rep. But somewhere inside there still lurks a fatboy who yearns for Jamie-love. When a freak accident, caused by super-freak Samantha James (Anna Faris, ladies and gentlemen), lands Chris back home for the holidays, he launches into a last-ditch effort to land the love that got away. He tries playing it cool, but that doesn’t work. So he decides to completely reverse course and use what he calls “the Michael Bolton Starter-Kit”, complete with a garish sweater that made Jamie’s “kitten” gift look like a bomber jacket in comparison. But when it’s all said and done, Chris learns that all he needed to do to win Jamie’s heart was simply be himself. A thinner, more charming, more muscular version of himself, sure. But still, himself.

How many broken fingers have you endured for love? Do you suffer from IBS? Tell me all about it, in the comments!

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About Author

Host of Next Projection's ongoing Mainstream Monday series. I enjoy the occasional film, but most of the time I just watch movies. I'm no film student; just an old-fashioned homemade addict of cinema.