Sunday, August 23, 2015

Matrimony Month: Muriel’s Wedding: Sisterhood in the ‘90’s Romance Oeuvre

The flipside of the traditional values renaissance brought to life by movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the anti-traditionalism brought to life by movies as diverse as the critically reviled The Next Best Thing and the critically acclaimed Muriel’s Wedding.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Matrimony Month(s): My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the Resurgence of "Traditional" Cinematic Romance

The 90s brought about something of a sea change in romantic movies.  Pretty Women led the charge, and Cindarella – sometimes with a fresh coat of feminist paint as in “Ever After – emerged as a fresh role model.  If the 80s were all about individualism, then the 90’s brought about a resurgence of traditional romance, with My Big Fat Greek Wedding leading the charge.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is as traditional a movie marriage plot can get and yet it is ostensibly about rejecting tradition…at least at first.  Toula is a lonely spinster stuck working at her parent’s Greek restaurant.  She falls for a regular customer, but her true motivation is independence – from her parent’s traditional values, from the pressure of marrying a Greek boy, from the expectation that she’ll be working at the family diner all her life.  Toula breaks free, taking classes, cutting her hair, and marrying a WASPy teacher…and marries him in a traditional Greek ceremony for which her fiancé has to convert.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Matrimony Month: Arthur, Coming To America and Overboard: Identity Porn in 80s Romance

The dawn of the 80s meant something new and fresh was in the air.  Marriage and romance had to be treated differently; we lived in a world where women had joined the workforce, where girls were told that they could be anyone, do anything, as they were raised.  This resulted in comedies about divorced people finding themselves; movies about second chances and balancing career and romance.  The schism between Mr. Mom and Heartburn is endemic of the decade they belonged to; everyone was suffering from growing pains, and everyone was trying to figure out how to adjust to the new international moral code.

Is it surprising that the pursuit of love turned away from marriage and toward different aspects of love?  The foreboding inherent in divorce dramas like Kramer vs Kramer gave way to a wave of fluffy teen romances like Pretty in Pink and Valley Girl, to soft romantic fantasy like Splash and Mannequin, and to complicated romantic and erotic psychodramas like 9 ½ Weeks and Wild Orchid.

Is it any wonder that the more marital-minded romances of the 80s had something of an identity crises going on and that the question ‘for love or money?’ could not have been asked more loudly during the Gordon Gecko years?