Seattle Cinema Survey – Happily Married Couples

Welcome to another entry in the Seattle Cinema Survey, where every week I ask the area nerds/writers/critics/etc a question about the world of cinema. This time out, in a tie-in to this week’s Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, with its surprisingly sweet and good-natured depiction of marriage, I polled the Seattle crew; What’s your favorite happily married movie couple?

That happily bit seemed to throw a lot of people for a loop. Plenty of movies have married couples going through tough times, or dating duos who decide to tie-the-knot; few seem to display domestic bliss. This indeed was a tough one to figure out personally as well, for I sought something beyond the supportive wife/husband role. After much debating, my answer is Morticia and Gomez Addams from Barry Sonnenfeld’s wildly entertaining, shockingly good television adaptation The Addams Family. It’s more than the individual performances, of which each are brilliant, from Angelica Huston’s wonderfully cold, monotone speech to Raul Julia’s buoyant, all-of-the-teeth in every smile energy. The two just bring the best out of one another’s creepy, perfectly executed depiction of still-swooning weirdoes. Whether it’s Morticia’s memory of first falling for Gomez at her first funeral where he was, “So pale and mysterious” that, “No one even looked at the corpse” or when our mustached husband inquires with delight of his equally pleased wife, “Does it hurt,” amidst torturous games, the Addams’ always seem so sincerely passionate about one another.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend @ BrentMMcKnight

One of my all-time favorite happily married movie couples has to be Harry and Helen Tasker, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, from James Cameron’s True Lies. They’re simultaneously normal and relatable, and totally extraordinary. They have similar problems to contend with as many other couples, with kids, the tedium of a run-of-the-mill suburban life, and issues of trust and boredom and too many secrets. The Tasker’s are stuck in a rut, but holy hell do they ever bust out of it. Who knew that all it takes to beat the doldrums and complacency of a bland, unsatisfying marriage is discovering your spouse is actually a spy who regularly saves the world? They put in the time and effort to work through their differences and disagreements, and if they have the chance to take out some villains in the process, that’s even better. Happily Married Couples

Brian Taibl of Brian The Movie Guy @MovieGuyBrian

While I really admire the unified, we’re-a-team, let’s-tell-it-like-is nature of Mac and Bren MacGuff in 2007’s Juno, my favorite happily married couple award would go to Bob and Helen Parr (aka Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl) from 2004’s The Incredibles. The fatigue of the mundane and marital apathy that exists at the onset of the film ultimately becomes the fuel used to ignite their passion and better understanding of one another. It also helps lay the foundation that will support their family-first approach to teamwork, adventure, discovering who you are and saving the world. This world class team would have never fully assembled without their contagious respect and admiration for each other.

Jason Roestel of Examiner @filmbastard

Though the cynic (read: pragmatist) in me would love to point to Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams married couple in Derek Cianfrance’s sensationally tragic Blue Valentine – just for hitting closest to the actual target as any film on marriage I’ve seen – I’m going to have to go with a very early Quentin Tarantino script directed by the late, great Tony Scott. One of the best road movies of the early nineties, a lurid tale of love on the lam, pimp murder, and cocaine trafficking, True Romance. Clarence and Alabama Worley are the template I wanted to pattern my own pending matrimony after. Rockstar nomads bound together till death. This was my generation’s Bonnie and Clyde, but strained through that conniption fit Tarantino calls a creative process and buried under a blanket of Tony Scott’s magic smoke machine.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom

I’d hate to make like a bad husband and cheat so however much I would love to go with Jesse and Celine from Richard Linklater’s Before series, that would hardly dovetail into the “happy” aspect of your query. After all, it’s their inability to corner the happiness market that makes their relationship such a compelling and complex portrait of marriage. Instead, I’ll hone in on the “happy” part and chuck that banter-driven duo out the window for True Romance‘s Alabama Whiteman (Patricia Arquette) and Clarence Worley (Christina Slater). The two have this puppy love chemistry, at least driven in part by purely anatomical crotchal urges, that’s infectious in its eye-lash fluttering, bubblegum smacking qualities; its helplessly winning though partly delirious and infantile. I light up when Alabama and Clarence share the screen and their supercharged devotion makes for a hell of a driving narrative force. Add in Quentin Tarantino’s pop culture-loving dialogue and a good measure of violence (perhaps addressing QT and violence in the same sentence is repetitive but roll with me) and you have a happily married couple that’s even better as a duo than as standalone characters.

Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak @MoviefreakSara

In some ways, it is a little odd that there aren’t as many “happily married” cinematic couples as one might initially think there would be. Granted, the Romantic Comedy subgenre is built upon people meeting one another and falling in love, the idea of a happy marriage the goal, not the starting place. Same time, there are a handful of contented pairing that do come to mind, individuals like Steve and Diane Freeling (Poltergeist), Chief Brody and his intelligent, fiercely determined better half Ellen (Jaws), Gil and Karen Buckman (Parenthood) and Stanley and Ellie Banks (Father of the Bride), all of whom navigated a number of tasks, big and small, as they did all they could to see their respective families stayed safe, sound and, most of all, happy. But the greatest pair of movie marrieds? For my money, that has to be super sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. Played to perfection by William Powell and Myrna Loy, over the course of six sidesplitting mystery-adventures (starting with 1934’s The Thin Man) this hard-drinking pair of domesticated detectives solved every murder that landed on their doorstep, usually with martini in-hand. Even the birth of little Nickie, Jr. couldn’t slow them down, and no matter how horrible the crime, how loudly their devoted canine Asta protested or how empty the Gin bottles became, it was a given Nick and Nora would save the day, almost always during a climactic dinner party where all the assorted suspects looked on smugly, far too confident their pickled pursuers wouldn’t discover they were the ones who had committed that dastardly devious crime.

Erik Samdhal of Film Jabber @ErikSamdahl

I’m sure there are other better examples, but a movie that comes to mind is Ghost. I suppose technically Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore aren’t married for much of the movie (‘til death do us part), but you get where I’m going. Ghost is great because it’s romantic, for the ladies, but still has some murder and creepy demon blurry things. And a sensual scene where Whoopi Goldberg pretends she’s a dude.

Tim Hall of Seattle P.I/The People’s Critic @peoplescritic

It has to be Mr & Mrs Smith. I think they were happy, but bored. Most of that was to their occupational choices, there was a little more stress in their household. Being a skilled contract killer isn’t the easiest thing to talk about when you get home. But when they finally bonded on, they became the most dangerous power couple in cinematic history. Once they were honest, their marriage was able to thrive. Also, they became the perfect couple to babysit, pet-sit, or house-sit for you. Everything is safe with them.


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