My wife likes pretty much all movies. Unless they involve infidelity, drug use, kids at risk, irresponsible adults, car chases, Apache helicopters, shootings and bombings. So we don’t go to the theater very often these days.
But over Christmas we returned to the AMC in Leawood. This was her choice, her movie. The theater was jammed with moms and daughters. The last time I saw this many women at a movie it was “Magic Mike” and I was the only guy there.
The plot was the kind of movie I would normally see alone. It featured inhumane prison conditions, wretched poverty, children raised in the streets and begging for their daily meals, war between a uniformed army and 9-year-olds, evil innkeepers, a love triangle, rebellion, church theft, snipers and barricades made by teenagers. And that was in the first 30 minutes.
In one scene a woman sells her hair, teeth and body just before she breaks out in a song about dreaming. All to provide for her daughter who gets put in an orphanage. The main character is known affectionately as prisoner 24601. The movie also had sword fighting, smoking, drinking, children bought and sold except for the one shot point blank. Through it all, mothers and daughters in the theater dabbed away tears in the biggest weepfest since my wife watched “The Notebook.” Meanwhile the husbands in the audience kept checking their watches and wondering when Russell Crowe was going to break out in gladiator costume.
Through it all, it wouldn’t be fair to say women love the story. They WORSHIP it. I read where one woman in Britain named Sally Firth has seen the play “Les Miserables” an incredible 958 times. She was quoted as saying the new film of the show is ‘absolutely brilliant.’ In some theaters the audience applauded various songs.
So when I asked my wife about all this, her response was swift: “Leave that movie alone!”
Look, I’m not picking on “Les Miz.” I’m simply trying to understand it, which most readers think is biologically impossible. Still, I count three reasons why women love this movie.
It has singing. Musicals are chick flick heaven (CFH). Think “Mary Poppins,” “West Side Story” and “Sound of Music.” In this genre, actors breaking out in harmony mean laughable plot lines, bad acting, even violence that is simply part of the musical expression. Had Julie Andrews pulled a gun on Rolf when he discovered the Von Trapps’ escaping, moms wouldn’t flinch because the aggression would be sandwiched between two songs. Dancing movies are similar in their CFH status — like “Dancing with the Stars” but without Kristie Alley. See: “High School Musical,” and “Hairspray.”
It’s French. Women love most anything French, a statement as newsworthy saying as Kate Upton is having a good month. Women see France as a romantic rendezvous where you buy things you can’t afford, eat truckloads of éclairs and still lose weight. “It’s a sophisticated country where the culture isn’t dominated by Bud Light ads,” my wife declared. For guys, it’s a country best known for military defeats, human trafficking (see “Taken 1” and “Taken 2”), and subtitled movies starring Gerard Depardieu.
CFH extends to British movies, especially if they have some remote connection to Lady Diana, her purses, gowns, sapphire rings, and polo ‘instructors.’ Ditto for movies with Colin Firth, like that movie where he stuttered. My wife took me to it but all I remember is that for a king he was pretty miserable.
It stars Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.
I would elaborate further but a mob is starting to form outside my office.
Matt Keenan, a 913 freelance columnist, writes every other week. His book, “Call Me Dad, Not Dude. The Sequel,” is available at thekansascitystore.com.