Weekend Roundtable: Worst Movie Love Stories (Drama)

Valentine’s Day is coming up and there’s a ‘Fifty Shades’ movie in theaters this weekend. That these two things are related is disheartening. Sadly, Christian and Anastasia’s relationship actually isn’t the worst love story featured in a dramatic film. Let’s look at some other couples who have no business being together.

We did one of these about rom-coms a few years back, so I’d like to focus on dramas this time. The movie as a whole doesn’t necessarily need to be a romance, so long as it has some sort of love story plotline that simply doesn’t work.

Shannon Nutt

I’m going with the low-hanging fruit this week, but I can’t think of any on-screen romance more unbelievable than the one between Anakin Skywalker and Padme in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels. Since any romantic chemistry between a 10-year-old boy and an older woman is kind of creepy (thanks, George), we’ll skip the stilted exchanges in ‘The Phantom Menace’ (“Are you an angel?”) and go straight to ‘Attack of the Clones‘. Yes, this is the movie where Anakin wins over Padme’s affection by telling her how much he hates sand… and slaughtering a whole tribe of sandpeople. Nothing woos a woman’s heart more than knowing you’re an unbalanced homicidal maniac. Then, in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, after the future Darth Vader murders a bunch of younglings, Padme tells him, “You’re breaking my heart!” You think?! Meanwhile, women break up with me if I forget their birthday… Go figure.

Of course, the fact that Hayden Christensen has close to zero acting talent doesn’t help any of the above. Even someone as good as Natalie Portman (and her awards shelf should indicate just how good an actress she is) can’t fake how few sparks are going on between these two. George Lucas should have hooked up Padme with Obi-Wan and given viewers some real chemistry, and a real reason for Anakin to want revenge.

Brian Hoss

Have you ever seen ‘Against All Odds‘? It has Jeff Bridges, James Woods, the music of Phil Collins, and an attractive premise about a broke pro athlete at the end of his career who’s compelled to kill a wealthy man’s unfaithful wife. Well, take it from this ’80s fan, this is a terrible, nigh unwatchable mess, and it goes right off the rails with the love triangle. Despite a lengthy runtime of 121 minutes, this one is very forgettable save for being MST3K material.

The music video may make it seem like a decent yarn, but don’t be fooled.

Luke Hickman

I was in my prime teenage dating years when ‘City of Angels‘ came out. I think it took a few different dates to see that one. I loved the concept and the actors. Plus, the movie featured those Goo Goo Dolls that every fan of alternative music liked. When I reviewed the Blu-ray a few years ago, it was the first time that I’d seen the film since the late ’90s. I still love the concept, but watching it as an adult, I recognized that the love story is absolutely horrendous.

Nicolas Cage’s angelic character comes across like a celestial stalker. After a patient dies on her operating table, he watches surgeon Meg Ryan cry, which results in the ultimate creepy infatuation. He follows her around, watches her make dinner with her boyfriend and even sticks around when she bathes. That may be dismissable due to the concept and the naiveté of the character, but the other side of the story is even less romantic.

Ryan’s character is a good person, a great doctor and has everything going for her. Her boyfriend loves her, but she’s willing to throw him away just to be in the “arms of an angel.” A fallen angel. How she makes the decision to pursue a creepy guy who keeps randomly showing up in different places is beyond me. Her unmotivated actions give stalkers around the globe a glimmering hope that the girls they’ve been creeping on just might like it. The romance in this movie is trash.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

It’s a tale that’s old as time and a song as old as rhyme, but that doesn’t make ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ any less creepy. As much as I adore Disney’s adaptation, what kind of a message has it been sending to generations of children? Belle is portrayed as a strong, intelligent young woman with little interest in conforming to the expectations that others have set for her. Does she leave this provincial life behind to, say, travel the world and document her extraordinary experiences in print? No. This teenage girl is instead held captive by a prince cursed for his selfishness.

The Beast has ruined the lives of his castle’s staff – seemingly forever – simply through their association with him, forced into the forms of ordinary inanimate objects. The prince himself will remain monstrous in appearance unless someone manages to fall in love with him, and Belle will remain his prisoner until that day comes, if it ever does. He threatens to starve her. He’s prone to feral, violent explosions of anger. The Beast ultimately gets what he wants, but is that love or is it Stockholm Syndrome?

The defiant, independent Belle is ultimately there to serve the prince. The Beast doesn’t meaningfully grow throughout the course of the film. His greatest act of “kindness” is tied to a situation that would never have happened were it not for Belle being his prisoner. The cups and candlesticks shrug it all off as, “Well, if the Beast weren’t such a Grumpy Gus all the time, of course she’d fall in love with him!”, as if allowing Belle to walk the castle grounds rather than confining her to her bedroom is some sort of sweeping romantic gesture. When it’s all said and done, does Belle get adventure in the great wide somewhere or is she just someone’s wife after all? I dearly love ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but I have to try not to think about it quite so much.

Josh Zyber

The only fruit that hangs lower than the ‘Star Wars’ prequels would have to be the ‘Twilight‘ saga. Nevertheless, I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how disturbing the relationship between centuries-old vampire Edward and high school teen Bella is. The guy’s a straight-up creep, and the actors (despite also having an off-screen relationship at the time) utterly fail to sell their supposedly epic love story.

While they’re generally better movies, I also have to admit that the formulaic love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale is the weakest part of the ‘Hunger Games‘ franchise. Mostly that comes down to the fact that Jennifer Lawrence far outclasses her co-stars Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as actors.

Finally, I’m sure Luke will hate me for saying this because I know it’s one of his favorite movies, but Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz have virtually no screen chemistry in ‘Vanilla Sky‘ – which is weird, because the two of them had a well-publicized affair on the set that broke up Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman.

What movie relationships have left you unconvinced? Tell us about them in the Comments.

16 comments

  1. Csm101

    When my wife and I were still dating, we went and saw Autumn In New York with Richard Gere and Wynona Ryder and I remember being really grossed out by them.

  2. Chris B

    “George Lucas should have hooked up Padme with Obi-Wan and given viewers some real chemistry, and a real reason for Anakin to want revenge.” -Shannon Nutt

    Huh…..what a simple idea that is actually kind of fucking brilliant. This could have salvaged the prequels.

  3. photogdave

    I’ll have to fire up the way-back machine and go to Donovan’s Reef. I always found Elizabeth Allen’s character falling for John Wayne to be highly unbelievable. Even though in real life they were just over 20 years apart in age (which isn’t an inconceivable gap after middle age), she looks younger and he looks older in the movie than their real ages. There just doesn’t seem to be any plausible basis for a romantic attraction.
    I love the rest of the movie though, especially Lee Marvin doing what he does best — playing a drunken brawler.

  4. EM

    In Attack of the Clones, at one point Anakin says to Padmé, “If you are suffering as much as I am, please tell me.” It’s at that point that I raised my hand in the theater and said, “I am.”

  5. Elizabeth

    How about the horrible romance shoved into Jurassic World. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard did their best to give the Anakin/Padme “romance” a run for their money for winner of the award for Least Chemistry Between an Onscreen Couple.

  6. DarthTrumpus

    “is kind of creepy (thanks, George), we’ll skip the stilted exchanges in ‘The Phantom Menace’ (“Are you an angel?”) and go straight to ‘Attack of the Clones‘. Yes, this is the movie where Anakin wins over Padme’s affection by telling her how much he hates sand… and ”
    I guess people never considered that Padme and Anakin WEREN’T supposed to be a great love story. Face it, most teenagers amped on hormones DO sound incredibly sappy (and not the perfect-speech spouting characters in a Cameron Crowe movie) when trying to express what they think is “TRUE LOVE”. Add to that you have two emotionally stunted (he’s basically a monk, she’s been in the public spotlight since she was 12) and you have the makings of a DISASTER. Padme has some sense but then war happens and in the ultimate act of rebellion (see what I did there?) and foolishness, they get married. Trust me, if they hadn’t just come through certain death at the hands of a droid and a Sith that elopement wouldn’t have happened. This culminates in one of the best bits of acting and character development in any Star Wars movie when in Revenge of the Sith Padme announces she’s pregnant. The look on Anakin’s face says “I’m am so f*cked!” it’s priceless. They were a doomed couple who should never have gotten together. Take out the whole Clone Wars and take over by the Emperor and they would have divorced in two years. If the Jedi hadn’t insisted on abstinence-only education, maybe Anakin wouldn’t have confused his horniness with love, gotten married, betrayed the Jedi out of some misguided attempt to keep Padme, and the Emperor’s plan would have failed. You see, the prequels were nothing but a cautionary tale about the importance of proper sex education. 🙂

    • Thulsadoom

      It’s a good point! In many ways the awkwardness and how stilted their romance is, actually makes it more realistic. 😉 I also felt that Hayden tends to get a bad rep, when I think he was often just trying to compensate for Portman’s inability to change expression or change tone of voice…

      My personal pick for worst movie love story has got to be Titanic. I know many people love it, but the godawful cliche of it all makes Attack of the Clones or Pearl Harbour seem positively original.

        • DarthTrumpus

          It’s realistic in the sense that he’s the quarterback who accidentally knocks up the head cheerleader and screws up his whole future. As much as I love Say Anything, or Some Kind of Wonderful can you honestly say the outcomes are “realistic”?

        • Thulsadoom

          Josh, are you trying to say Star Wars isn’t real?! :-O But surely… I mean… you know, it’s just a long way away… it’s totally real. 😉

  7. Not to be pedantic, but both CITY OF ANGELS and AGAINST ALL ODDS are remakes (of WINGS OF DESIRE and OUT OF THE PAST, respectively) of far superior films that deserve a mention. Those originals have all the romance the remakes lack.

  8. theHDphantom

    “Of course, the fact that Hayden Christensen has close to zero acting talent doesn’t help any of the above.”

    Ummm, I take it you’ve never seen Shattered Glass before….

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Looking at all the other crappy performances he’s given – not just in the Star Wars prequels but also in movies like Jumper, Takers and Outcast – Shattered Glass seems to be the real anomaly in his career.

    • chris b

      He wasn’t even good in “Shattered Glass”. That scene when he jumps on the table in the boardroom while he’s telling the story of the kid at the electronics convention is fucking embarrassing it’s so bad.

Leave a Reply to Jason Radcliff Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *