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The Comedy of Marriage
Posted May 17, 2010 to photo album "The Comedy of Marriage"
In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kids Are All Right, FilmInFocus’ Peter Bowen and Nick Dawson look at works across multiple mediums that also poke fun at the institution of marriage.
Slide 15: The War of the Roses (1989)
In the mid 1980s, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner set themselves up as a popular onscreen couple in the adventure comedies Romancing the Stone (1984), in which Douglas played a dashing swashbuckler and Turner the romance novelist he rescues, and The Jewel of the Nile (1985), where the same characters, now married, returned for more exotic scrapes. Their characters, Jack and Joan, are pretty much the ideal couple, but during one particularly sticky moment in Jewel of the Nile Douglas says to Turner, “If we get out of this alive, I’m going to kill you.” In their third film together, this line was strangely relevant as The War of the Roses was a pitch black comedy charting the decline of a perfect marriage into seething anger and violence. The movie, directed by and co-starring Danny DeVito (who also took supporting roles in Stone and Jewel), shows how love can change to contempt. Turner memorably tells Douglas, “When I watch you eat, when I look at you lately, I just want to smash your face in.” Based on Warren Adler’s 1981 novel, this cautionary tale charts the divorcing couple’s battle to gain ownership of the mansion they once happily occupied, and ultimately shows that marriage is indeed till death.