M is for Movie Group

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYears ago, when our daughters were in kindergarten and third grade, my husband and I started a book group with other families we knew through our kids’ school. Five couples and 11 kids met for a potluck dinner every few weeks. The third-graders discussed The Babysitters Club (this was before Harry Potter was invented); the younger children pitched fits. Total chaos. Plus, I noticed over time that a mixed-gender group tends to choose a lot of books about war and history.

Still, we had a lot of fun for many years, and even read a few good books along the way.

Once our Babysitters Book Club kids had all gone off to college, my husband and I decided it was time to start a new group. By this time we had wised up, and knew our limits. No kids, of course—we only invited empty-nesters (different friends from our old crew, since I still harbored resentment about some of those literary choices). No full-scale dinner parties—just dessert.

And, best of all, no books–just movies! An assigned book you don’t like is a torturous investment. An assigned movie you don’t like, on the other hand, is a serendipitous nap!

Our movie group kicked off in 2008 with Elegy. I don’t remember a thing about the film, except we all agreed that anything with Penelope Cruz in it is worth seeing for the visuals alone. (I personally have a crush on Jesse Eisenberg, making me the lone member who didn’t think his Mark Zuckerberg was an asshole in The Social Network.)

Elegy was the one and only movie we all saw together, sitting in our stretched-out row in the theater. After that, people have seen the movies on their own, according to what works best for their schedule, including whether they can only stay awake if it’s a matinee (not naming any names here!).

The challenge is picking a movie that will still be around close to the time of our next group: If we see it too early, we won’t remember it. After all, we’re all old enough to be empty-nesters—which means we don’t recall anything that’s happened more than a few days ago. (If we see a movie in our independent art theater, my husband and I won’t remember it at all, because we will have slept through it—even the matinee.)

I adore our movie group, which rotates among our houses every few weeks. The hosts provide dessert and pick the movie, usually with consensus reached via email beforehand. But if I wanted to pick some obscure Jesse Eisenberg film, it would be my prerogative to cram it down everyone’s throat. Every host but me always makes food to match the film’s theme—a nice touch that I always forget. Except when we saw The Help, but I just couldn’t bring myself to serve chocolate pie.

Other than Boyhood, which we all loved, and Unmistaken Child, which we all hated, we never agree. Part of the fun is predicting who will have what opinion.

One thing’s clear, though: the right people are married to one another–movie tastes are similar between the members of each couple. This vindicates my husband and me, because years ago, we developed a theory that couples’ compatibility could be predicted based on the 10 favorite and 10 least favorite movies of each (those dogs in the middle, i.e., the bad films my husband likes, don’t count so as not to skew the results). My husband and I had to put our theory aside to save our own marriage after a dispute about a very fine film, The Piano. But now our data set of four couples proves its validity once more.

So, if there are any algorithm geniuses from Netflix and Match.com out there who want to cut us a percentage of the killing they will make from our theory, give us a call.

Or better yet, catch us at the movies!

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Are you in a movie group? What’s your favorite movie? Would your relationship withstand the test of our Movie Compatibility Theory? If not, would you ditch the theory, the movie, or the relationship?

14 thoughts on “M is for Movie Group

  1. What a fun idea for a couples group! I totally get your compatibility theory – works pretty well for us, although I still hate Star Wars and refuse to watch the whole thing and we’re still married. My husband has a couples compatibility theory that it isn’t the things that you have in common that make a great couple, but it’s that you hate the same things. I think he’s onto something….

    • I would put all those Star Wars films into the vast middle category. And I totally agree about the incredible bonding power of hating the same things. My husband and I have often been the only ones sitting stone-cold in a crowded theater where everyone else LOVES the movie (Amadeus and Forrest Gump spring to mind). And we also have taken a solemn vow never to take up bird-watching. Thanks for writing!

  2. My husband and I both liked The Piano.

    We differ in a major category: After seeing Apacolypse Now, I have never been able to see another war film. My husband goes alone or with a friend or watches them on Netflix.

  3. I tried tweeting this post but it says I can’t because you don’t follow me–which I don’t understand, oh well. So how did The Piano debate play out?

    • Hmm, that’s strange! I really liked The Piano, my husband really didn’t, and since it seemed like an Important Movie, we couldn’t just dismiss it as we did all the other ones we attributed to one another’s poor but forgivable taste. There’s probably a lot of movies I used to like that I could no longer stomach if I saw them again.

  4. I love the idea of a movie club! My husband and I have very different movie preferences (there are a few we’ve agreed upon). My favorite movie of all time is probably The Remains of the Day; a close second would be Lantana and Revolutionary Road. I would absolutely join up with a movie club. As a matter of fact….maybe I’ll start one! :)

    • You should definitely start one–so much fun! I really liked Lantana, and really wanted to like Revolutionary Road, but was disappointed by it (as I often am when movies are super hyped!). Thanks for writing–let me know if you start a group!

  5. Another great, funny piece, Lorrie, and a great idea. One of my husband’s best traits is that he lets me drag him to the occasional “chick flick” and often enjoys them. I’m not as nice about going to see super hero movies with him…but we do like many of the same films.

    • Thanks, Dorothy. You should start a movie group! And I don’t know why, but it does seem that men are more open to what they deem “chick-flicks” than they are to “chick-lit.” Must be all those first dates they must endure in hopes of getting a second one.

    • You should do it! It takes me 10 years to read a book, too, which means I have no memory of what’s even been in the book by the time I finish. Let me know what happens with your movie group, and thanks for writing.

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