I feel like the May-December Romance implies some sort of swindle...gold-digging, status-seeking, and other attempts at personal gain. But that's not always the case, and that's where I'm going today. I'm simply looking at relationships between an older party and a younger party, relationships that work for laughs but feel meaningful and important to both parties.
So, it's Thursday, which means it's time once again for Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. The theme...May-December Romances.
Here are my picks:
Dir. Woody Allen, 1979
I always bought the relationship between Woody Allen's Isaac and Mariel Hemingway's Tracy. He's in his early 40s. She is 17. It's a bit icky, especially given Woody's well-advertised scandal involving what he did (or didn't do) with Mia Farrow's kids. I digress, because, for me, it's easy to turn off the tabloid accusations and just enjoy what Woody was doing here. Isaac is constantly at odds with the seriousness of such a relationship. Added to that, Tracy is smarter, and, in some ways, more worldly than he will ever be. In the young Tracy, Isaac finds the idealism he is so desperately searching for in that famous opening voiceover, the stops and starts of a writer without a grasp on that very thing...idealism. It's something he couldn't dream of finding in Diane Keaton's stubborn Mary and that which conflicts him in the adultery of his best friend, Yale (Michael Murphy). The romantic realization of the finale represents everything I love about Romantic Comedies. It works because it is not about age. It's simply about being mature enough to realize what you really want.
As Good As It Gets
Dir. James L. Brooks, 1997
Jack Nicholson plays Melvin Udall, an obsessive-compulsive jerk, who writes dime-a-dozen romance novels. Helen Hunt plays Carol Connelly, a waitress with a sickly kid at home. Both actors won Oscars for their respective Leading Roles that year, and I always dug that about this film. They are both strongly deserved wins. Perhaps the best thing about this film is that the romance isn't at the center. Melvin, a regular at Carol's restaurant, pretty much repulses her for the better part of the movie, but they find a mutual attraction in the good they bring to each other's lives. And that is worth something. And it's why this movie, as a comedy and a romance, is so likable.
The American Pie Series
(1999 - 2012)
I won't get into the plots of the films. I love them all, except the spin-offs, of course. The first is a classic teen comedy, the second not-as-much, the third is a brilliant wedding comedy, and the fourth, well, I don't remember it that well, only that I liked it. The first three, though, feature a steamy love affair for the ages. That being the secret trysts between Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), the dorky, artsy one of the bunch, who can't crap in public and drinks Mochaccinos, and Stifler's Mom (the great Jennifer Coolidge), mother of the meathead, Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott). Yeah, that's the only name by which she is referred, and she hardly has any lines. The pay-off of this plot thread in the first film is nearly as memorable as the "flute" line, or the apple pie scenario. And it's so real, it's so love, and it coined the popular acronym....MILF.