I have a love-hate relationship with romantic comedies (which seems kind of meta, since they’re usually about love-hate relationships). I can’t turn off the practical side of my brain which keeps making sarcastic comments like, “Gee, they’re good at flirty banter and have polar opposite values. Obviously they’re soul mates!” and “Yes, jumping into bed on the first date is TOTALLY a good idea.” And when they’re over I usually end up feeling like a cynical prude and regretting I ever watched it. But since I’m a hopeless romantic, whenever I find one I can actually relate to, I watch the heck out of it.
As someone who doesn’t believe in premarital sex (I know I’m in the minority here, and I’m not trying to force my beliefs on anyone else) it’s rare that I can find a rom-com that actually looks sort of like my life. It’s rare enough to find one that acknowledges that sex can actually have a serious effect on relationships (When Harry Met Sally is the exception that proves the rule) let alone one where the main characters have consciously decided to not have sex. So when I watched The Mirror Has Two Faces I immediately went gaga over it. To the point where I will actually be using the word “adorkable” in a context that is neither A: Talking about how stupid the word “adorkable” is, or B: Talking about how irritating I think Zooey Deschanel is. This post will also contain a disproportionately high number of the words “cute” and “adorable”. In an effort to prove to myself and my readers that repeated swooning has not damaged the rational part of my brain, I will be making a ridiculous amount of mathematical puns throughout the rest of this article (which as you’ll see is totally relevant).
The plot concerns two middle-aged professors who teach at Columbia. Greg (who will probably get called Jeff at some point, since that’s the actor’s name, and Greg is my dad’s name, so I have trouble associating it with another person) loses all power of rational thought whenever he’s around a woman he finds attractive. He’s also totally adorkable in a stereotypical “math professor” sort of way. After his ex seduces him and then ditches him (which is an important scene, because not only does it prove he’s straight, it actually shows that he has emotions, which is good, since it makes me not want to punch him in the face as much for the rest of the movie), he decides that romantic love and sex are both worthless and decides that the key to having a successful relationship involves having similar values and interests and never, ever, having sex.
Rose teaches English and still lives with her mother. Her mother and sister are obsessed with their looks and have given Rose a total inferiority complex. Her sister Claire is about to marry Alex, whom Rose had (and still has) feelings for. Claire basically poached Alex from Rose, who met him first (Rose’s friend: “I TOLD you you shouldn’t introduce them”. Rose: “She already had a husband, I thought it was safe.”)
Through a string of circumstances Rose and Greg end up going out (Side Note: The before scene with the mother is exactly why I never tried to date during high school, because I REALLY didn’t want something like that to happen. Rose is basically like a 20 years older version of me, which is probably why I love this movie so much.) They proceed to have a really cute “courtship” that involves romantic things like discussing the Twin Primes Conjecture and bringing some kind of graph thingy to a concert so they can look at the sound waves. [My nerdiness may be influencing my idea of what’s romantic. But during a Music and the Liberal Arts class I took in college, during the final exam I suddenly figured out a graphing system to explain Indian ragas, which totally psyched me out. I went back after the break to see if I could get the exam so I could save it, because I was that excited about it, but the professor had already shredded it.]
So it was nice to finally see movie characters who date like I do (Let’s geek out together!) And I loved the awkward hug scene. And Greg’s proposal (Proposing is totally a good time for nervous intellectual babbling. It reminded me of the scene in Fiddler on the Roof where Perchik starts chattering really fast about marriage as an interesting social phenomenon and Hodel’s like, “You’re asking me to marry you, aren’t you.”) I love awkward romance scenes. They seem more real than stereotypical movie clichéd ones.
So Rose and Greg get married, even though Rose has fallen in love with Greg, who’s still like, “Sex is the kiss of death for any real relationship!”. She gradually gets more and more frustrated until finally she just asks, “By the way, if I said I wanted sex tonight, would that be enough of a warning?” and Greg who’s been half-listening half-reading the paper is so shocked he spits out his coffee. Eventually he says that it’d be okay, and they have the most awkward good-bye ever. (Side note: They actually have lives and have to do stuff like go to work, instead of just laying around and doing each other! And they actually had to discuss sex instead of just instinctively doing it because the sexy background music tells them to.)
So Rose attempts to seduce Greg, who is attempting to anti-seduce her. Even though he’s on the lookout for any flirting signs (Greg: “What are you doing?” (As Rose puts on background music). Rose: “Nothing. Much.”) he still totally misinterprets Rose’s “All that wine made me warm.” comment and thinks she literally means it (instead of it being an excuse for her to take off the jackety thing she’s wearing, which it totally is, which you can tell because she’s using her Sexy Voice) and starts to walk over to open the window, before Rose grabs his arm and pulls him back down and says “IT”S OKAY!” in her normal voice. That’s totally adorable that he didn’t pick up on that.)
Anyway, things progress (with a lot of double entendre, which I always find ridiculously hilarious, because of my extremely sheltered upbringing) until Greg freaks out and stops it and implies that Rose is unattractive, which triggers Every Insecurity She Has Ever Had (Note: One of her favorite movies is Now, Voyager. Which is pretty much a gigantic sign for “I have mother issues and I’m insecure about my appearance.”) Greg realizes what he’s done and tries to apologize, but Rose is too hurt to discuss anything and basically shuts down. (Note: They actually have a fight! A real, actual fight with hurt feelings that doesn’t instantly get solved. That’s almost like real life!)
So Greg has to immediately leave for Europe for three months to advance the plot as Rose goes back to her mother’s and is all like, “Mom, was I pretty as a baby?” and her mom shows her a picture of a toddler which she starts admiring, assuming it’s her sister (which makes absolutely no sense, given that she asked her mom about herself, but which I’ll accept because it gets her past the (regarding makeup) “What’s the point? I’d still look like me, only in color.” stage.) Rose is all like, “Yay! I CAN be pretty!” and goes slightly crazy and does a total makeover. Finally Greg comes back, but feels betrayed by Rose’s overhaul, at which point Rose is like, “If appearances don’t matter, than what’s wrong with this one?” Boom. Logic. Take that, math professor. She then gives a whole “This isn’t what I wanted” speech and says she’s leaving (both literally, and him), but not before she gives him a sad smile and is like “Thank you, Greg. You’re the first man who ever wanted to marry me, for any reason.”
So Greg finally starts realizing that he IS in love with Rose, he just didn’t realize it because he actually liked her as a person. And Every Single Feeling he’s been repressing hits him all at once, which is why I actually buy all the dramatic stuff he does. Meanwhile Rose (who thinks she’s out of love with Greg) goes out with Alex, since he and Claire have broken up already, and is making out with him when she realizes that he’s more interested in her body than her (Rose: “Wait, what do you mean you always loved me, but just didn’t know it, but now you do because I’m not who I was anymore? Alex is totally confused and tries to figure out where he went wrong, but Rose is like, “Yay! I have self-esteem!” Rose: “I never thought I was good enough for you.” Alex: “But you are, Rose, you are!” Rose: “I know, I know! But you’re not good enough for me!”)
And eventually Greg (who’s still kind of batshit crazy, if you’ll pardon my language) storms over to Rose’s apartment and they eventually reconcile and start making out. Which is probably unrealistic, but at this point I don’t really care, because my brain has stopped working due to all the swooning. So anyway, I liked this movie because it struck the perfect balance between romance and reality. You should totally watch it. And now I’m stopping because I have to go to Bible study, even though I made hardly any of the incredibly witty (if I do say so myself) math puns that I came up with. And before I look anymore ridiculous than I already do.