Movies teach us so much. They showcase the best clothes to wear, cars to drive, places to visit, and even the best people to be (Duh! Movie stars, of course). But did you know they can also teach us about relationships? All you have to do is look closely. Here are a few films to get you started….
The Godfather (1972)
The aging don of an organized crime family transfers control of the empire to his reluctant—but disturbingly capable—youngest son.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: Get to know the family first. You’re dating a guy who seems to have the world on a string. When he’s in the room, every face you see sports a smile and every hand a gift to be unwrapped. But if you get too caught up you’ll miss your chance to find out exactly why everyone is so dang nice, and by then it will be too late. BONUS LESSON: Anyone willing to decapitate a racehorse to make a point won’t be letting you win any argument about anything at all—ever again.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
A New York City doctor embarks on a strange and risky adventure through a bizarre sexual underworld after his art-curator wife admits to having intimate dreams about others and (almost) cheating on him.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: How weird are they sexually? There’s no limit to the human imagination, and when it comes to sex, all sorts of people can get up to all sorts of things. That’s no problem if you’re cool with what you signed up for, but make sure you know from the get-go. If she’s into one-night stands with beefy sailors not named you, or he’s sneaking into anonymous sex cults after dark, the pair of you might need a chin-wag or two before things go any further. Everyone likes surprises, but only to a point.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
A pregnant woman discovers her husband joined a freaky religious cult and the Devil is actually the father of her unborn baby.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: Have a serious talk about religion and personal beliefs. No one likes talking about religion. Aside from politics, it’s just about the most uncomfortable topic folks can get into. Still, avoiding the pain of discussion almost always leads to worse things down the road. OK, maybe not “my-baby-is-the-spawn-of-Satan” worse, but did you really plan on spending every second Saturday doing field service for the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Better to have the conversation first.
Fight Club (1999)
A depressed office worker with severe sleep issues crosses paths with a charismatic soap maker, forming an underground fight club that becomes—and reveals—something far bigger.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: Note all significant mental and emotional issues. Multiple personality disorder is no laughing matter, and finding out the person you’re in love with is afflicted can be devastating. Wouldn’t it make more sense to do a little digging up front? It’s one thing if he talks to plants or hears the odd voice, but quite another when he’s getting into fistfights with himself in a parking garage or planning the anarchic takedown of the economic infrastructure of the western world. An ounce of prevention….
Falling Down (1993)
A frustrated defense worker reacts to the flaws he sees in society, even as his failing psyche moves closer and closer to total collapse.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: How do they handle stress? It’s no biggie when someone demands to see a manager over a muffed drive-through order, but when small frustrations lead to baseball bats, property destruction, and automatic weapon fire, you’ve got a serious problem. Head it off and keep watch for early warning signs—like “finding” a rocket launcher on the walk home from work. You’ll be glad you did.
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
The Griswold family’s cross-country road trip to Walley World is more difficult and painful than they ever imagined.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: What are their future plans regarding children and family? The chaotic nature of family life is enjoyed best in the rearview mirror. The war stories are great for reminiscing, but absolute hell during the actual living. Knowing you’re both on the same page in your future life together is critical, especially if you desire even a slim chance at surviving ungrateful kids, annoying relatives, and the daily applications of Murphy’s Law that plague modern families on the go. Griswolds forever!
There Will Be Blood (2007)
A silver miner-turned-oilman goes on a ruthless quest for wealth during the Southern California oil boom of the late 19th century.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: How important is money? Seeking financial security is a solid trait, and loving someone with the discipline and dedication to accomplish it only makes sense. Yet when the rabid pursuit of money begins to poison the very things it’s supposed to protect—like relationships with family or friends—you’ve got a problem. Money isn’t directly good or bad, but if your sweetheart spends more time calculating the cash than the love it’s supposed to protect, best to sell out and move on.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
In the most famous “rockumentary” of all time, Spinal Tap (one of England’s loudest bands) is followed by film director Marty DiBergi on what proves to be a very difficult tour.
RELATIONSHIP LESSON: Do they have a sense of humor? Even the worst relationship in the world has a chance if the couple leaves room for a sense of humor. And, believe it or not, life has way more kicks to deliver than your average rock-and-roll tour, mini-Stonehenge notwithstanding. No, not everyone laughs at the same things, but as Nigel Tufnel would say, “That’s just nitpicking, isn’t it?” Find the funny, or find a way out.
by Jarrod Thalheimer