discovering Netflix some months ago, I’ve simply become a
movie hermit. I just don’t want to watch movies with anybody.
I want to watch them on my laptop. In my study. By myself.
That way I don’t have to discuss with anybody what movie we’ll
choose or discuss what movie we’ve chosen after we’ve watched
This means I have recently watched Suspiria—or mostly
listened to it—Kandahar, and a perpetual favorite,
La Ceremonie without having to compare notes.
But the fact remains that movie viewing is, essentially, a
social pastime. And if you find yourself regularly watching
movies with one person in particular and that particular person
is of a different gender than you, it may happen that you
encounter, from time to time The Chick-flick Conundrum.
Here’s how the Chick-flick Conundrum messes up otherwise perfectly
friendly movie viewing.
For example, I like war movies. Particularly movies about
World War II. I like French movies. The plot doesn’t matter—I’m
just trying to see how much of the dialogue I can understand.
I like black-and-white dramas and rom-coms of the ’30s, ’40s
and ’50s. I’d watch Cary Grant do anything. I can’t get enough
of Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now. I like scary movies,
mystery movies, thrillers.
I’m not much into gangsters, westerns or fantasies, though
I last winter I watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy
with my youngest daughter over the course of three sedentary
days. I have, ever since, both nursed a mighty crush on Viggo
Mortensen and tried to be as good-hearted a human as Legolas
was an Elf.
Still, it’s assumed that, since I have ovaries, the kind of
movies I must really like are Chick Flicks. And hence
we come to The Accidental Husband.
The Accidental Husband was a kind of desperate buy by
my Movie Viewing Companion at a Blockbuster’s close-out—4
movies for only $20, with only three on the display rack that
were really compelling. I pointed out a couple of other possibilities
that didn’t spark much interest and then suggested The
Accidental Husband. The director had done something my
MVC liked and it had Uma Thurman, whose charms, I figure,
appeal to all men, though I don’t understand why.
I said, maybe it will be like The Proposal, which was,
we had both agreed when we’d seen it, a funny romp of a movie.
And so later that evening, to my astonishment, my MVC suggested
we watch The Accidental Husband. Now, our other choices
were Tropic Thunder, Army of Shadows and The
Lives of Others. But it seemed he preferred The Accidental
Husband and, from a surfeit of politeness I said, sure,
let’s watch it.
And we did. Most of it.
Our intermittent movie conversation went something like this.
MVC: “I’m going to miss the first few minutes. I have an email
Me: “You didn’t miss anything. It’s really pretty stupid.
We can just turn it off.”
MVC: No, I want to see it. It’s supposed to be funny.
Me: “Can you hit ‘pause?’ I’m going to get another glass of
MVC: “I’m going to hit ‘pause’ and get another enchilada.”
Me: “We really don’t have to watch this.”
MVC: “Yeah, but it must be almost over. And you know, you
like it, right?”
Me, annoyed: “Um, no. It’s stupid. And Uma Thurman can’t act,
as far as I can tell.”
MVC: “Well, and look at Sam Shepherd. What a sell-out for
Me: “Then why are we still watching it?”
WVC: “I thought you wanted to watch it. You wanted to buy
Me: “I didn’t want to buy it. You didn’t want to buy Crazy
WVC: “I thought you’d think Crazy Heart was sexist.”
Me: “What I wanted to buy was Date Night but I thought you’d
think that was stupid.”
MVC: “You’re kidding, right? Tina Fey saved our nation from
Me: “Can we just turn this off, please?”
And right before whatever certain happy ending was to follow,
Now, I know the moral of this should be the importance of
open communication in choosing films using I-statements and
not making assumptions based on who is equipped with what
reproductive organs. As it turns out my MVC doesn’t even like
Uma Thurman, a laudable, but previously unknown fact.
But in the final analysis, what this experience proves to
me is that Netflix is saving couples from bad movie nights
and gender stereotyping. All you need is your laptop and your
queue. And a quick kiss before you go your separate ways to
watch the movies you really want to see.