I love me some Tina Fey, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to see her most recent film. “Date Night” stars Fey and Steve Carell, as well as a handful of other well-known (and great) actors/actresses.
The film is about Claire and Phil Foster, a married couple in their 30s who don’t have a lot of time for romance. When a couple with whom they’ve been friends for several years announces that they’re getting a divorce, Claire and Phil start to wonder if their own relationship is doomed. Are they, like their friends, becoming “too comfortable”? Are they slowly becoming each other’s best roommate?
In a moment of spontaneity, Phil decides to take Claire to the hottest restaurant in the city. But they neglect to make reservations, and so must “steal” a table from the Triplehorns, a couple who didn’t show up for their own reservation. The romantic evening misfires spectacularly when a couple of thugs show up at the restaurant in search of the Triplehorns, who apparently stole something important from someone who wants it back.
Hijinks and other completely ridiculous situations ensue, and it’s just a great movie, plain and simple. But it also got me thinking.
October 1 will be mine and Best Friend’s five-and-a-half year anniversary. I’m sure I’ll never know everything there is to know about relationships, these years have taught me a great deal about my own relationship, and my feelings about it.
The older I get, the more I see that relationships can be hard to keep fresh. There’s work to do at my job, chores to do at home, bills to pay, groceries to buy, and even books to read and television shows to watch. There’s various weekend and holiday obligations, and sometimes when I stop and take a look at what’s going on around me, all I can see is the rut I’ve been digging.
And so I sympathize with Claire and Phil (and they’ve got kids, so they’re even more pressed for time). You get into a routine, you plough along through life, and it’s easy to feel bored and stressed and like nothing will ever change.
And apparently these days, these feelings of boredom or restlessness or complacency are accompanied by the thought, “I must not love this person anymore,” or “Are we even in love anymore?” or “Is this relationship a failure?” Claire and Phil have these thoughts in “Date Night.”
I blame novels. And Disney.
The Myth of Happily Ever After
I’m not saying that relationships are pointless, or that they all end in disaster; it’s just that sometimes I wonder whether our expectations going into those relationships might be a little unrealistic.
Everyone loves to hear that “they lived happily ever after.” Disney in particular has built a multi-zillion dollar empire on that statement. But what a lot of people don’t seem to want to talk about is what happens after “happily ever after.”
Where was the author when Cinderella and her Prince Charming had their first fight? Why didn’t anyone chronicle any of the tough decisions that Aladdin and Jasmine had to make as rulers of an entire (and might I say dreadfully poor) country? Did Ariel and Eric actually get along for the rest of their lives, despite barely having spoken a word to each other before they were married?
This is why I enjoyed “Date Night” so much — it tries to show some of these things. Claire and Phil may think that their relationship is boring and maybe even a little unhappy, but everything they say and do proves just the opposite. They make each other laugh, they help each other, they rely on each other, and they know how to work together to solve their problems.
And to me, that’s the secret to happiness in relationships: a balance between romance and reality, adventure and routine. Nothing worth having comes easy.
What do you think? Am I being cynical, or do you agree?
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