Enough already! I’m tired of being blind-sided by movies that are themed around the death of a spouse, especially when I (or my social planners) think that the movie is a feel-good, pick-me-up. There’s nothing quite like crying your way through a Disney movie while the 10 year old kid beside you stares. Why, you ask, am I all worked up? Well let me tell you about New Year’s Day.
A good (and very sweet) female friend of mine and her girlfriends have a New Year’s Day tradition which they invited me to participate. They like to dress in their pjs and camp out at the local movie house for the whole day, moving from one movie to the next, carelessly wasting away the day in big-screen fantasy world. It’s a nice, gentle way to usher in the New Year. Ya gotta love a good plan, right?
(WARNING: The following is a complete plot spoiler. If you want to see the movie “We Bought a Zoo” with no knowledge of what you are walking into, skip the next two paragraphs.)
So I joined the crew of all women for the movie “Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.” It was a shocking but good flick. I definitely enjoyed it. To release the tension of such an edgy flick, the plan was to wrap up with a feel-good flick about animals. How can you go wrong with animal comedy? So right from one theater to the next, we headed to watch “We Bought a Zoo.” The previews were all fun animal foibles and full of cuteness. Laughter and “awww!” abound. Then the feature film started. Oh, it wasn’t five minutes into the film when the words “…because my mom died six months ago” spat out of the 14-year-old main character’s mouth. Despite my instant butt pucker, I could feel the entire row of movie seats jiggle as the rest of my crew locked down for a surprise emotional maelstrom. And it got worse, a LOT worse from there.
And thus began the emotional jack-hammering. The writers spared no heart-wrenching cliché that a long, losing battle with cancer affords. There was the putting-the-young-daughter-to-bed scene when she asked “Was Mommy hurting?” There were the various scenes with the heartbroken widower looking at the laptop computer that held an endless supply of lovely pictures of his beautiful wife (who, in my mind, looked a heck of a lot like my Maggie) while gratuitous emotional music dripped. Scene after scene, it was like someone took my life, added a zoo and some kids, and played it out on the big screen before me. Well, sort of. At least it felt that way. So I cried. A lot. In the movies. With a 10 year old boy staring at me. The whole movie. The WHOLE movie.
It didn’t take long for my entire crew to join in the tear parade. So much for the feel-good, fun flick to wrap up a relaxing day.
So enough! We’ve all said it before, usually with cursing involved, that there should be a list of movies that widows and widowers should be warned not to see (or at least be warned BEFORE they see them.) Let’s get this started right now.
Here’s how this is going to work. If you’ve seen or heard of a movie that widows and widowers need to be warned about before they see it, add a comment below with: A) The name of the movie, B) a rating from 1 to 5 of how bad the reference is (‘1’ being not so bad and ‘5’ being terrible), and C) a basic description of why we should avoid the movie. I’ll take care of the rest. After we’ve come up with a list together, I’ll make a web page or a Google document that includes them all so we can get this out to the widow world. I’m tired of being blind-sided by movies. Let’s help others avoid the same train wreck.
I’ll start (Warning! Spoilers abound):
- “Up” Rating: 4 Reason: The basic premise is about a sad guy who lost his dear best friend and wife and hasn’t been able to let go and move on.
- “We Bought a Zoo” Rating: 5 Reason: The whole movie is about a guy who’s wife died of cancer and his grief while he tries to move on and help his kids cope with grief.
- “Star Trek” (The 2009 version) Rating: 3 Reason: The opening scene depicts a wife losing her husband in an explosion while she’s talking to him and giving birth to their child. (Yes, I am so much of a sad dork I cried at the open scene of the Star Trek movie.)
- “Contagion” Rating: 2 Reason: Very early in the movie, the main character watches his wife die of some type of contagious disease. The worst is watching the doctor tell him that his wife has died and he can’t seem to comprehend the depth of what has happened.
Please add yours in the comments.