Ever start watching a movie or TV show and realize you couldn’t care less what happens to the main character because you’re suddenly way more invested in the supporting storyline? With love in the air this week, here are a few couples who manage to be funnier, cuter and more loving than their film’s main relationships despite considerably less time onscreen.
“Trainwreck.” Sure, Amy Schumer and Bill Hader have a great arc, with a storybook ending involving Billy Joel and the New York Knicks. But what about Brie Larson and Mike Birbiglia as Schumer’s sister and her lovable loser of a husband, respectively? Larson is an angelic vision of a stepmom who defends her husband and stepson to her sometimes abrasive and brash biological family. And even though Birbiglia and his son are a little strange, Larson loves them unconditionally and accepts them for their pale, nerdy selves. I loved “Trainwreck” because of Schumer’s emotional growth, but the relationship between Larson and Birbiglia is an example of mature adults who see the good in each other and ignore whatever anyone else thinks. That’s love, people!
“Never Been Kissed.” You might have missed the electric kiss between two comedy giants in the final scene of “Never Been Kissed,” but make no mistake: Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly’s flirtationship flies under the radar for the majority of the film until it culminates in a satisfying smooch. While Drew Barrymore’s character is pursuing a forbidden romance with a teacher, Anita and Gus banter back and forth about their jobs, past relationships and Barrymore’s assignment. Maybe I’m partial to a lovable curmudgeon (Reilly) being dragged out of his shell by a vulgar yet sweet reporter (Shannon), but I think most viewers were rooting for these two to get together.
“Wedding Crashers.” If this movie were only about Vince Vaughn and Isla Fisher, I would probably like it more. Their wacky “How We Met” story is way more entertaining and a lot less dramatic than the Owen Wilson/Bradley Cooper/Rachel McAdams love triangle, which gets the primary storyline. Initially Vaughn cons Fisher into thinking he’s a wounded veteran, then after they sleep together, Fisher convinces Vaughn he took her virginity. The ensuing debauchery, depravity and sexual chemistry makes for an unconventional love story that you can’t help but root for. Especially when contrasted with boring Wilson and McAdams, pining over each other on bicycles and exchanging meaningful glances over dinner (BARF). Lest we forget that Wilson and McAdams’ confrontation then resolution takes place in the middle of Vaughn and Fisher’s wedding vows, one final injustice committed against the real stars of the film.
“Knocked Up.” Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd’s characters, Pete and Debbie, got the sequel to this movie (“This is 40”) because everyone knows Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl could never last longer than six months together. Yes, Pete and Debbie are dysfunctional at best and ruthlessly mean at worst; BUT they’re a realistic portrait of committed parents who have their ups and downs but try their best. And in case you forgot, their respective breakdowns after their separation are iconic: Pete goes to Vegas, does shrooms and delivers a wonderful monologue about the different chairs in his hotel room while Debbie goes to a club and provokes a bartender to say “You old, she pregnant. Can’t have a bunch of old pregnant bitches running around.” Almost getting divorced is justified if you have a mental break like either of theirs.
This movie has two secondary couples that are super sweet and unlike the main one, were never stepsiblings! I know it’s not technically incest between Cher and Josh, but it’s still unsettling. Meanwhile, Brittany Murphy and Breckin Meyer as Ty and Travis are a couple of flannel-clad cuties. Travis noticed Ty’s Marvin the Martian doodles and liked her without all of the Cher and Dionne accoutrement. Who would have thought being yourself would attract a sweet and compatible mate? Meanwhile Dionne and Murray, played by Stacey Dash and Donald Faison, are a masterful portrayal of that couple from your graduating class that would fight every day in the parking lot but are still together. Want to know what trust looks like? Letting your high school boyfriend teach you how to drive on the freeway.
“Four Weddings and a Funeral”
It takes Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell like four years to finally get together, and I personally felt that I had been through too many ups and downs with them for their reunion to feel satisfying. It’s dramatic for no reason, and Andie MacDowell acts as well as a wooden marionette. Meanwhile Gareth and Matthew, played by Simon Callow and John Hannah, are the vision of stability, support and unconditional love. While Grant and MacDowell are getting engaged and married and divorced (not to each other, mind you), Callow and Hannah are quietly in love until Gareth’s tragic death. Gareth’s death and funeral make Dobby’s death look like a walk in the park, which is a testament to their subtle love story.
“10 Things I Hate About You”
This movie is filled with grand romantic gestures, some more memorable than others. My personal favorite is when Bianca, played by Larisa Oleynik, punches the horrible antagonist and Mario Lopez lookalike in order to defend Cameron, aka peak baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It may not be Heath Ledger serenading Julia Stiles while she’s at soccer practice (speaking of, does anyone’s high school look like that? I’m genuinely asking); but it’s a sweet moment that shows how boys sometimes need rescuing and girls can be daring knights instead of damsels. The cherry on top is when she asks if he’s okay and all he says is “Never better.” JGL: breaking hearts since the late 1990s.
So, here’s to the unconventional couples who deserve movies of their own. If you and your #MCM or #WCW need one to watch this Valentine’s Day, hopefully you choose one of the countless rom-coms available to you. Except “Valentine’s Day.” That movie has roughly 18 couples in it and spoiler alert: all of them suck.