Sunday, October 2, 2011

What I learned about love from Anna Faris



Right now my bf is in the kitchen tidying up after a another 5-hour batch of applesauce, rather messy experiments with homemade Ranch dressing, a batch of homemade multigrain oat bread, and yet more vanilla ice cream for scooping atop the apple pie. While he washes dishes, I'm listening to "Song to the moon" from the opera Rusalka, feeling philosophical and thinking about all the reasons why I liked the new Anna Faris movie, "What's Your Number?"

I'm not giving a plot summary, but suffice to say film critics have panned the movie as unbelievable, derivative, and predictable. They claim Faris is desperately grabbing at opportunities for lead roles, even in terrible films. They claim the film is just a weaker flavor of "Bridesmaids". So according to the critics, the film is crap, Faris is crap, and you're crap if you enjoy the movie.

Now I've never seen "Bridesmaids" and I'm not a film critic, but I do consider myself critical. I have a hard time NOT criticizing pretty much every movie I watch. Same goes for books. Same goes for TV. Same thing with recipes. And it's easy to be critical of "What's Your Number" because it's riddled with unbelievable moments, goofy silliness, and outrageous quantities of Chris Evans' naked skin. But this film takes a very real stab at dissecting the heart of this fanciful notion of finding real love.

I suspect most film critics and most movie-goers completely miss the priceless lesson on love that's buried beneath all of Faris' endearing goofiness and Evans' distractingly perfect physique: love between two people is organic and fragile and familiar and terrifying and easy and painfully difficult and utterly personal. It doesn't care about rules or statistics or norms or common sense - and it chafes when confined to any of these. The film happily reminds us that all those compatibility surveys, predictive pairings, matchmakers, dating tips and magazine how-to articles are all empty drivel when it comes to love between two people. Throw out the rulebook.

When I first starting seriously dating, everyone had an opinion (and I wanted to hear them all). Everyone had a different piece of advice, everyone saw my relationships differently. Family saw it one way, friends another. And all of those opinions and perspectives were based on their experience, their lives and perhaps on long-held traditions and beliefs. But guess what? All those opinions and perspectives are useless when it comes to love because NO ONE has ever been in your same exact situation and no one ever will be.

8 years ago when I met my bf, no one predicted he and I would last - including me. No one understood why I would drive hundreds of miles every weekend just to spend time with him - because long-distance relationships never work out. Some people couldn't understand this whole thing called monogamy - because gay guys can't be monogamous. And is it even possible for two guys to really love at all? If I had followed the advice of friends, family, magazines, rulebooks and the law of averages, my bf and I would have broken up a long time ago. I would be knee-deep in failed relationships and still searching for that "real love" connection.

That's the whole point of "What's Your Number" and what makes this film so unique. In a very conventional way, it demonstrates how love isn't formulaic or cookie-cutter. All the surveys and averages in the world won't help you find love. Your friends opinions can't help you decide if what you have with another person is the "real deal" because THEY'RE NOT YOU! Your family's opinion of your relationships won't keep you warm at night or satisfy your need for love. And if you're obsessed with finding what someone else has told you love means to them, then you will never find love of your own.

Anna Faris dramatically (if unrealistically) casts aside her own rigid requirements, her mother's narrow idyllic perceptions and the useless averages from a Harvard study to finally pursue real love: love that supports, encourages, protects, comforts, endures, and faithfully waits. "What's Your Number" is a message worth watching and LIVING - even if the critics wag a finger.





1 comment:

  1. I hooked up with Ted after we met for probably the third time ever in a bar (we had mutual friends, but didn't really know each other). A week later he was like, "Let's be boyfriend and girlfriend." I lived in Michigan at the time, he in Pittsburgh, and our entire acquaintance was having been in the same group of people at a bar a few times, and having slept together for a week. How could a monogamous long-distance relationship go wrong under those circumstance, amiright?? I saw him for two days twice a month for four months - that's how our relationship started. Everyone told me I was crazy and he'd cheat on me, or I'd cheat on him, and it wouldn't even be his or my fault when it happened, 'cause you can't sleep with someone for a week, see them four days a month, and call it a relationship.

    Now we're totes married; together almost six years, married almost four.

    Haters gonna hate.

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