#2. Awful People Will Someday Realize They Are Awful
The Offenders:Return of the Jedi/Serenity/3:10 to Yuma/American History X
The only thing we love more than watching a movie villain die is watching a movie villain repent, and in the case of Darth Vader, both at the same time. Films offer us the gratification of seeing shitty people finally realize how shitty they've been and then start to feel bad about it, or, if they were being shitty on purpose, we at least get to see them fall from high-rises.
"I regret nothing!"
This reckoning happens with such frequency in film that we subconsciously start to expect it from our own lives. It feels like one of those rules life has to adhere to if it's ever going to make any sense. It's the foundation behind every occurrence in fiction of Peter standing at the pearly gates checking a list to see who's allowed in the club. While movies may not have invented it, they certainly perpetuated the idea.
Sadly, the depressing truth is that awful people will likely go on being awful forever. While we expect school bullies to have their comeuppance one day, or for arrogant people to finally feel some shame, these things rarely happen because life isn't actually that satisfying. Worse, not everyone operates on the same scale of ethics. There are millions of detestable people out there right now who can justify every miserable thing they do. Even if you had the opportunity to sit them down and explain why they are objectively shitty, they wouldn't understand your position, and there's also a good chance they would try to poke you in the eye. So even though we sit seething and waiting for coworkers, exes and eye pokers the world over to finally have the moment of introspection we've been hunting for since the fourth entry on this list, that day may never come. Sorry. So now the alternative is figuring out how to get them up to the top floor of a high-rise.
#1. If a Relationship Can't Fulfill Every Need in Your Life, It's Doomed
The Offenders:Blue Valentine/The Break-Up/Little Children/The Good Girl/The Notebook
We've discussed before how miserable movies are at doling out advice on finding love, but they're even worse at teaching us how to keep it. For any romantic movie that starts with a happy couple, it's almost guaranteed that they will be dating or married to other people by the credits. Audiences are only interested in the beginnings and endings of relationships, not all the tedious good times in the middle. The consequence, however, is that filmmakers are then stuck in the position of tearing a couple apart in the same movie where they're trying to point out the power of love. The solution: The newly found love in the story has to be superior in every conceivable way so that audiences will say, "Yes, of course, that's what a relationship is really supposed to be."
Real love only exists in torrential rains.
That sets a dangerous precedent for real-world relationships, though. No one is living out that lustful, unstoppable, consistently passionate version of love endorsed by films because we have to live it for a lot longer than 90 minutes and that would be exhausting. Real relationships are hard and ugly sometimes. They are filled with petty, asinine fights where people say regrettable things, but according to every movie about love, that's a sure sign the relationship is a few short scenes from ending in flames. We are not the Jacks and Roses from Titanic or the Noahs and Allies from The Notebook, because no one is. In fact, just about every couple is more accurately represented by the doomed relationships they abandon in the middle of the movie. According to film logic, you are the antagonist in your significant other's love story. We all are.