What I mean by “life ruining” films is simple. It is a movie that forever altered the way I view or interact in the “real” world. Whether it is false expectations or high aspirations, the following films have ruined my life.
- Say Anything (1989) – A few years after this movie came out, I developed something called “The Lloyd Dobler Effect”. Named after the male lead, The Lloyd Dobler Effect states that after seeing “Say Anything” women’s expectation of a mans behavior rises to unusual levels. Thus resulting in long-lasting, and often times repeated disappointment on the part of the woman. In short – no mere mortal man could ever live up to Lloyd Dobler. Not all men are created equal. The Lloyd Dobler Effect also gives birth to the notion that there are indeed “nice guys” out there. Who look like John Cusack.
- Star Wars (1979) – Girls today want to be princesses. They want to wear pink sparkle dresses and tulle skirts and that’s that. You are a Princess! I got news for you dorks – being a princess takes more than just pink clothes and some sequins. It takes balls. Princess Leia ruined my life. I saw Star Wars at a very young age (in the movie theatre!) and I left thinking that I could totally lead the rebel alliance, fall in love with Han Solo and stand up to the Dark Side with no problem. Yeah right. I grew up and realized that when you stand up to the “dark side” in the real world, you get fired. When you experiment with cool new hair styles on Earth your friends make fun of you, or ask you “what happened”. Maybe it’s different on Alderan. Maybe they treat princesses like human beings there and not like mini stepford wives. Anyway. Thanks for teaching me that real princesses are mouthy, ballsy, feminine, hard-working women who lead countries and planets and never, ever wear pink. Even if it does get me in trouble now and then.
- Practical Magic (1998) – Okay. So I kind of believe in magic, and I might actually believe that I am magic. I’m adopted and that leads to a lot of harmless psychological delusions. This is the least of them. But this movie ruined my life in a couple of ways. First, it totally justified my “bad boy” fixation with the dark and sexy “Jimmy Angelov” character. It also made me want to live in a really cool old house with tons of space over looking the ocean with my cool crazy aunts (who just happen to be witches) living with me and my zany sister. It’s not too much to ask, is it? I could plant herbs and make pancakes for dinner! I could ride my vintage bicycle down to main street and buy some apples at the farmers market. And then I could go crazy from the insane boredom of staying in one place that long with no movie theatre.Next up? The hair. I was obsessed with Sandra Bullock & Nicole Kidman’s hair in this movie. It is long, shiny, lucious, bouncy, and awesome. Hair envy. I soon found out that it wasn’t real. Maybe it was magic. Or extensions. And of course, this movie is one of many films confirming the “midnight margarita” delusion. It looks awesome to wake everyone from their slumber and begin drinking margaritas at midnight. In movies this leads to fantastic dance parties, laughter, touching confessions and the kind of hangover that is fixed with a smile and some “strong coffee”. Needless to say, this is false.
- Grease (1978) – In what way did this movie NOT ruin my life? Ugh.First off, I became a cheerleader in High School and did not end up a hot sexy bitch who puts out my cigarettes with flare in a pair of hot red Candie’s. Next, being the best singer at school doesn’t make you cool. It doesn’t do anything except make female drama dorks jealous, and make the asshole dudes notice your boobs and try to “score” with you. Speaking of asshole dudes, this movie is yet another in a long line of movies that told me guys might act like dicks, but underneath they are really awesome. Assholes like Danny Zuko are nice guys underneath. When their friends aren’t looking. And if you try hard enough, and eventually change everything about yourself, he will like you. And finally, I fully expected my last day of high school to end in a big carnival. It didn’t. There were no big group numbers dedicated to my friends, vowing that we’ll stay together forever. There were no rides. There was no hot guy. All I got was a trip to Disneyland, a buffet and a diploma. Big whoop.
- Private Benjamin (1980) – I almost joined the army because of this movie. I’m totally serious. I even went into the ROTC office at school and talked to the nice folks in there about
ruining my life foreverjoining the army. It looked really fun! Obstacle courses all day, bunks at night. Travel to Paris. Meet weird people. Smoke a little. Where do I sign up? I was more than disappointed to learn the stark realities of the US military for anyone, but especially for a woman. And I’ll leave it at that.
- Stage Door (1937) – Wait a minute. You mean when I grow up I can not only be an actress, but I can live in a hotel for women in New York City and be friends with Ginger Rodgers and Katherine Hepburn? Okay, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But I didn’t know that women in the movies and women in real life can be THAT mean. I think I was shocked the first time a girl friend stabbed me in the back and nothing bad happened to her. In the movies the mean girl always gets outed. In real life she gets meaner.
- Dirty Dancing (1987) – I’m noticing a theme here… bad boys that just need the right girl to break through. IT DOESN’T EXIST. In real life bad boys are assholes and “nice guys” are actually really nice, interesting men just waiting for women to stop watching “The NOtebook” long enough to notice them. Whew! Anyway, that isn’t really why this movie ruined my life. It made me think The Poconos would be a cool place to visit and that I might actually be able to dance. Ha! Dirty Dancing has also made me hyper-aware of ever carrying a watermelon.
- Annie Hall (1977) –Woody Allen is responsible for so many of my personal issues, that he could make a great film about it. Annie Hall is quirky, independent, smart, funny, goofy, talented and attractive. She lives in NY and she dresses unlike anyone else. Long before the world even thought about Carrie Bradshaw they were obsessed with Annie Hall. But Annie Hall was a tall girl. A slender girl. Annie Hall lived in NY, not in CA (at least not til the end of the movie). Anyway, this movie gave me a romanticized NY that I still long for, and that I look for each time I visit. I’m not giving up on this one quite yet.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – I have been chasing the perfect cocktail party since I saw this film when I was about 12 years old. I believed that when I was a grown up, I would have glamourous, confusing parties that resulted in people kissing in bathtubs and drinking from shoes. I thought people would dress for parties and have quirky conversations. I think I secretly hoped that Truman Capote would actually come to a party I threw and proclaim me, and my shindig a success.