Thoughts on Friends with Benefits (Or, Why Is It Always Love?)

So the other night I was sitting quite contently in my little chair in the makeshift theater my school has every Thursday night, where they show movies on the projector screen for free, which is amazing. The movie this time? Friends with Benefits.

I was honestly a little puzzled about the timing of this movie. They JUST did “No Strings Attached” and I was intrigued about the replay of the premise so soon. So naturally, I had to go watch it. I mean, for free? Come on.

I fully and happily admit to being addicted to romantic comedies. Now, as I grow older and more cynical about the possibility of an actual love story, I have to admit the joy is more of a sadistic desire to snicker at the things I used to be so severely touched by. But I still cry during every single big romantic reveal. Only, here’s the thing about this new storyline that bugs me, and about this movie in particular.

The movie was hilarious. I thought the witty dialogue was great, I liked the acting and the characters that were portrayed. The only problem was that for all it’s humor, I still knew from the moment we started where we were going. No matter how funny, no matter how much they swore on the iPad Bible to just have sex, we knew they were going to fall in love. So why have the movie at all?

Here’s the thing. I was laughing my head off and yet I was thinking, “Where can this possibly lead but to Justin Timberlake revealing in some dramatic gesture that he is in love with Mila Kunis?” (I confess, I forgot to care about their characters’ actual names). I thought about the possible endings that would satisfy the masses other than the predictable one. I was catching at strings and I knew it.

I knew there was no where else to go. And then I wondered, why?

It seems to me anymore that these movies are taking us in new ways along the same well beaten paths. And that THIS IS WHY WE WATCH THEM. There is something we all thrive on about knowing that no matter what Justin says about Mila, they will somehow make it work. It’s predictable. It should be boring. And yet. It’s what we all want. It’s what even I found myself wanting, though I desperately wanted to shout “THIS IS A LIE!”

How many times have you seen anyone go chasing after someone when they screw it up? How many times is there this grand dramatic moment where the guy says something brilliant and then they kiss? Am I just missing out on this segment of life? Or is it, as I suspect, an insane sham that we thrive on, ruining ourselves for the real hardiness of relationships out there?

I have no problem with a shameless romantic comedy. I kind of like sitting there munching popcorn and living for a moment in a world where beautiful things like kisses in hot air balloons happen all the time, or, just as you panic that you’ll never fall in love you realize that this person you’ve been friends with for years is, surprise, gorgeous and wants to love you, but this isn’t the real world. In the real world our male friends are our male friends because, for whatever reason, we don’t want to be with them. Or maybe they don’t want to be with us. Regardless, if you both wanted to be more than friends, don’t you think most of the time you probably would have gone there?

So why is it that these movies with this easily traceable plot lines keep being made? Because it WORKS. My question is, my issue is, why? Why is this what we want? What is it about the way things actually happen that’s so terribly upsetting?

Because this whole friends with benefits thing? I don’t know how that really works because I’m smarter than to try it. I know me. I know I could never function that way. And I know it’s not a likely scenario to lead to love. Any more than I expect my best guy friend to suddenly proclaim his love for me–with, of course, a few cheesy words and then a kiss with some music in the background. These things just don’t happen, and I’m not sure why we aren’t making movies about things that really can happen. Maybe we just want to live in that fantasy world for a little while, and I think that’s okay sometimes. I just also worry a little bit what that says about us all. If we need the fantasy, why isn’t it magic? Why aren’t we seeing more of Frodo going to destroy the Ring in Mordor, or Harry besting Voldemort? Why, instead, are our fictions such a dim portrayal of something that could be reality, only it isn’t?

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Friends with Benefits (Or, Why Is It Always Love?)

  1. These things DO happen, but all that aside…

    The trouble is not necessarily with movies in general, but what the general chooses to watch, and what the multi-billion dollar movie industries make versus the indie movie industries. I recently watched a pretty decent movie called Breaking Upwards–and although admittedly I'm not a good judge, because I was in a rather emotional state at the time, I vaguely recall the movie being very realistic and like-like and believable, but having a flat ending. Perhaps that's just life.

  2. I realize they do, on occasion, happen, but they are horribly over-represented compared with any sort of realistic outcome. I am sure the problem is largely with the bigger industries, which cater to the population. In a way it's what I'm getting at… so many people choose to watch these cookie-cutter plots that in order to become a multi-billion dollar movie industry, that is what must be made. It's a compounding problem. (Please note response typed under severe exhaustion and is as such probably less than coherent.)

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