We've all grown up watching classic movie scenes where a character puts it all on the line with one massive romantic gesture to prove his or her love. No doubt many a little girl has grown up wondering why this kind of thing so rarely happens in real life.
Well, the reason that stuff only works in the movies is because if you sit and think about it, the real-world implications of those seemingly romantic gestures become so unsettling that they start to look about as romantic as an unsolicited boner text.
550 First Dates
The premise here is that Drew Barrymore has a brain injury that, every night, wipes out her memory. So, every day, she wakes up having forgotten the previous day.
One day she meets marine biologist Adam Sandler and they hit off, but the next day she immediately forgets him. She therefore has to meet him for the first time the next day, and the next, over and over again. Thus, 50 First Dates.
Or 90 Minutes of Adam Sandler Making Terrible First Impressions.
The happy ending is that Sandler finds a way to make Barrymore love him over the long term. He makes a videotape that recaps the beauty that is their life together -- the proposal, their wedding, their daughter's first steps -- and she just watches it every morning to catch up. And he's even found a way to keep living his dream as a marine biologist, taking his bride out on a yacht on a tour through the Arctic, because for some reason that makes the most sense for a man whose wife suffers from a debilitating mental disorder.
So What's the Problem?
Just look at this shot from the film, after Barrymore finds herself in the middle of the goddamn ocean:
This happens every fucking morning. The last thing she remembers, she's a teenager living in Hawaii. She goes to sleep and wakes up on a boat, in the Arctic, with a videotape laying on her bed. Isn't this how all of the Saw victims wake up?
She then spends every morning reliving her accident and composing herself to meet her husband and daughter, who are complete strangers. And she's adrift among the polar ice caps, so there's absolutely nothing familiar anywhere near her. It's amazing she doesn't die of shock every morning.
On the plus side, she never has to know about Bulletproof.
And yes, we said "daughter." They have a kid at some point. Imagine waking up and finding yourself nine months pregnant with a sticky note on the VCR in a stranger's handwriting that says, "Good Morning, Lucy." Imagine her terrified confusion every time this strange infant wakes her up crying in the middle of the night. Or any time Barrymore accidentally falls asleep while her daughter is napping. Or, you know, the hilarious night she spent going into labor, completely clueless as to how the hell she got pregnant in the first place. You go to sleep as a care-free teenager, you wake up in labor.
"I cannot be held responsible for my actions if I just freak out and throw you to the sharks."
Sandler isn't a heartwarming romantic, he's a selfish captor who's trapped a person with a severe mental handicap in a life of responsibilities she can't possibly keep up with.
4Beauty and the Beast
After switching places with her father in the Beast's castle, Belle is subjected to the Beast's bipolar fits of rage on a regular basis. Gradually she breaks through his bastardly exterior with the help of some talking furniture. She discovers that the Beast is actually a decent guy who cares about her, despite being a giant horned gorilla monster who could rape her into oblivion at any given moment.
His transformation from surly asshole into sensitive guy comes through in a big way when he gives Belle an enormous, beautiful library.
It's an undeniably tender moment that puts most gifts any other girl has ever received to shame.
So What's the Problem?
You know where else you can spend all day reading? Prison. Which is exactly where Belle is. Read all you want, as long as you don't think of leaving to see your family or loved ones ever again.
Remember, she's being held against her will -- she agreed to take her father's place as the Beast's prisoner. She had tried to escape once already, but the Beast tracked her down. Sure, he saved her from some wolves in the process, but he's still her captor. It's true that after he collapses, she drags him back to the castle to tend his wounds and willingly remains in his possession. But that makes perfect sense if you've heard of Stockholm syndrome.
Belle has. She's read everything.
Hostages, in order to keep from losing their grip on things, have been known to fall in love with the people holding them captive. There are four distinct stages of it, and Belle goes through each one in order:
Stage 1 is the act of being held captive itself. The captive person is held by fear of pain and/or death, and learns that the only way to survive is to be compliant. Belle does this right away and goes to her room without a struggle.
"I could probably do without the talking wardrobe now that I'll never see my father again."
Stage 2 is getting to know your captor so you can avoid pissing him off and causing him to harm you. Belle gets pretty familiar with the Beast's moods and what will set him off, which may seem like she's getting to know him as a friend, but is really just an innate survival instinct telling her to tread lightly around his monstrous ass so he doesn't rip her in half in a fit of spectacular rage.
Stage 3 is regarding any act of kindness as a sign that your captor is basically a good person -- even if that act of kindness is simply not killing you. The Beast giving Belle a library seems like a wonderful gesture from a sweet guy until you consider the fact that the library was already there. It's just another room in his house. All he did was open a door and point. So really, it's no different than "giving" her a bathroom to use, although Belle thinks it's the grandest thing anyone has ever done for her.
"Hey, here's the part where I start blaming myself for all the bruises!"
The final stage is when you start thinking of your captor as your friend, and of the people trying to rescue you as your enemies. The guy coming after her (Gaston) is a meatball, to be sure, but he and his mob are basically just trying to rescue Belle from a cruel, kidnapping monster's mind games.
Aside from the whole forcible marriage thing, he does look arguably badass.
Not that it's always the guys doing the screwing over in these scenarios ...