Weekend Wanderer: A Movie Ruined My Marriage


Al Pacino has a memorable line in an unmemorable movie. It’s The Devil’s Advocate, and he tells Keanu Reeves his “stud” look is very, “Excuse me, ma’am. Did I leave my boots under your bed?”

That quote is a perfect characterization of Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick. He is all charm and easy grin, and Miles Teller and Glen Powell are so perfect as Mini-Me Goose and Iceman that they may as well be one-eighth the size. Go. Now. I’ll wait.

Didn’t I tell you?

“I’ll see that,” my typically movie-theater averse husband said as we watched the trailer one night. “I’ll go.”

I was shocked. We don’t see movies together.

Why? Why wouldn’t a happy couple see movies together? Supposedly, it’s good for couples to see movies together. Why would we forego such a connection?

I have some theories.

On our first date, he took me to see The Cider House Rules. Years later, a friend pointed out what a bold choice that movie was for a first date. There’s ether abuse. A forged medical school diploma.

And those are the things I’m willing to print.

On our third date, I chose the movie. It was The Ninth Gate, a terrible horror flick he complains about to this day.

I loved it. Still do.

These two dates should have been a red flag – he’s a Dunkirk kind of guy, I’m a House of Wax kind of girl. There are not a lot of movies hitting the middle of that Venn diagram.

Then there’s theory number two.

My husband is smart. Very smart. Preternaturally smart.

While I envy his intelligence, I also have sympathy for it. Being that bright makes suspension of disbelief challenging. Inaccuracies glare. Plot holes gape. Mysteries are few.

He once said he didn’t like a Marvel movie because it had “too much outer space.” Too much outer space? TOO MUCH OUTER SPACE? There is no such thing as too much outer space. If there was, we wouldn’t live in a world with both Star Wars and Star Trek.

Thankfully, I have people in my life who know how to movie. My best friend, for example.

And one of my kids. Apparently, knowing how to love a bad movie is at least genetically equal to “too much outer space.”

But Maverick. Maverick we saw together. We could do this, I thought. No outer space. No horror. We could do this.

That was in the halcyon days of our marriage. Before Maverick.

Those days are over.

Despite using the bathroom on our way into Maverick, I had to go again. I was anxious, and I’d had a drink. I was about to run out to the bathroom when the previews started.

I sat back down.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked.

Umm, hello? Have you ever been to a movie? You have to watch the previews. It is a universal truth that the previews are as important as the movie.

Sorry. I forgot. You don’t like outer space. Fine. It’s a national truth the previews are as important as the movie.

“You’re high maintenance,” he said, having never realized that before this moment.

Then – then – he talked during the Jurassic World preview. I know! It’s only the Citizen Kane of dinosaur movies. Why are you talking? Do we not talk enough at home?

And when the magic of Maverick was pulling me back to 1986 with its fighter jets and Great Balls of Fire and “Talk to me, Goose,” my husband spoke again.

Now, there are some acceptable things to say during a movie. For example, “Did you know that’s Bill Pullman’s son?” Or “Miles Teller is from Downingtown!” Or “Jennifer Connelly is married to Vision!”

It is unacceptable to point out that something in a fictitious movie isn’t plausible. Of course it’s not. There isn’t a Middle Earth, an Amity Island, or an archaeologist with a whip. That’s why it’s fiction.

So yeah. He pointed out something in the movie that wasn’t plausible. Because in a movie about a sixty-year-old fighter pilot who flaunts the rules à la Captain Kirk, I’m looking for accuracy.

“Stop talking,” I said. Because I’m sorry. If you don’t know to keep quiet when I’m spending some quality time with Jon Hamm, our marriage is over.

Now, brace yourself for this next infraction.

He finished the popcorn. Like, ten minutes into the movie.

I hesitated when he ordered a joint bucket of popcorn. I should have gone Dutch with my kernels. But I didn’t and I lived to regret it.

I have rules for theater concessions because, well, I have rules for everything. One of those rules is that popcorn is rationed. It has to last until the end of the movie.

But it didn’t last. Because he ate it. Before Maverick ever made it back to Top Gun school.

Who is this man? I’m like one of those women who is dumbfounded when they find bodies in her basement, and even more so when she finds out it was her husband who put them there. He finished the popcorn?

I’m seeing Jurassic World on Sunday. There will be previews. There will be popcorn.

But there will be no husband.

Why? Because I love him. And I’m sorry. But in our case, the studies are wrong. We can’t see movies together.

Our marriage depends on it.

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