Love Story (1970)
Reviewed on 2011 August 15
I heard so much about this movie, and yet never cared to see it. I’m not into most love stories, but this was supposedly iconic, as much loved as it was parodied. My own husband joked about this thing, using the term “Movie Disease” for what claims the Ali MacGraw character (fret not, the opening lines have The Boy ruminating over what to say about dead Miss Perfect and marveling at how perfectly perfect she was. I gave away nothing.). When I watched part of The Kid Stays in the Picture and heard Robert Evans describe this thing as the picture that pretty much saved Paramount and his hide, then cut to lines of cynical New Yorkers queued up to see it — some repeatedly — that was it. I saw it in the $5 Walmart bin and had to see what all the fuss was about.
Remember that smug, slightly bitchy girl that the sweet, normal guy you’ve quietly had a crush on infuriatingly decides is the most perfect being in the universe? You try to understand what he sees in her and yet it just mystifies you? Even his friends think “dude, yeah she’s cute, but…”? Here she’s called Jenny Cavilleri (MacGraw) and is a music student at Radcliffe. She is a real charmer, derisively calling Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) “Preppy” and goading him for looking “rich and stupid” the first time she sets eyes on him. Yeah, that would melt my heart. Still, The Boy falls for her, asking her out for coffee so she can fling even more snot at him for being wealthy. It’s apparently love, because The Boy and Miss Perfect quickly become an item. You can tell she likes him because “Preppy” becomes a term of endearment. Perhaps he isn’t the rich fathead she initially perceives him to be.
Oliver holds his own, spining up and giving enough spleen back to her that she falls in love with him too. They take turns over agonizing about the differences in their social strata, but romance wins. Despite their backgrounds they decide to get married, after the obligatory montage of extreme cuteness. Can The Boy and Miss Perfect make a life together even though she’s broke and proud, and he’s rich and humble? Why yes, yes they can! IT’S LOVE!
And then she dies. Aw.
Just so you know I don’t have a heart of stone, I wept for the poor steerage passengers in Titanic. I cried at the finale of Life on Mars. The Book of Eli made me totally lose it. I snickered at this, largely because it has aged more poorly than a tanning bed junkie with a meth habit. There were several montages, the movie equivalent of those sprouts that a cheap sandwich joint loads your sub with when they run out of, you know, food. The dialogue is too contrived at at times; woodenly delivered; Oliver was too sweet and not developed enough; and frankly, Jenny’s initial whining about Oliver’s wealth just ruined it for me. (Hint: He doesn’t care, dummy. He loves you. Go with it.) Apparently I’m not the only one less-than-smitten with this thing. Mr. Shukti informed me that incoming Harvard students have mass viewings where they give it the MST3K treatment.
One chocolate morsel, from one of those cookies made by Miss Perfect’s dad. He was the one with the most sense in this thing.