274. The War of the Roses

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Movie: The War of the Roses

Release Date: December 8, 1989

Director: Danny DeVito

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito.

Tag Lines: “Once in a lifetime comes a motion picture that makes you feel like falling in love all over again. This is not that movie.”

Relevance: Over the holiday break of 1989, after finishing my first semester of college, I went to the movies with a group of friends. The movie was ‘The War of the Roses.’ I was a big fan of the three stars, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. The last time I had seen them all together was in the movies ‘Romancing the Stone’ and ‘The Jewel of the Nile,’ one of which will be showing up on this list later this year. Despite my being a fan of them, the choice of the movie wasn’t mine as the trailer didn’t impress me much. So I almost didn’t go. I am however glad that I did.

‘The War of the Roses’ is classified as a dark comedy. I am not sure that before seeing it I knew exactly what that meant. But I learned very quickly. It was a very funny movie. And it was a very dark movie with a not so much happy ending. I left the theater knowing a little bit more about myself as far as cinematic tastes. If a movie is funny, dark and quirky, all traits that have been placed on me a few times in my life, I am going to absolutely love it.

What was even more fantastic about this movie was the name of Michael Douglas’ character. Growing up, I absolutely hated my name. I had the sort of name that was odd enough, easily made fun of and not common at all. I was never able to find key chains, mugs, plaques or any sort of knick-knacks with it on. (It’s still rare for me to find something with my name emblazoned upon it.) I was constantly picked on for it and prayed (yes, at the time I prayed) for my parents to change it. But it was a family name so that was never going to happen. I vowed that one of the first things I would do as an adult would be to change my name legally. I always wanted to be a John, David or Michael and one day I was going to make that a reality. So what an absolute joy to be sitting in a crowded movie theater and hear my name that wasn’t followed with “Please sir, may I have some more.” Yes, Oliver Rose was the character’s name. Oliver, a name that I hated up through the age eighteen but now fully embrace at forty-nine.

There is a quote from the movie that has stayed with me throughout my entire life. That quote is, “When I watch you eat. When I see you asleep. When I look at you lately, I just want to smash your face in.” It is one that gets a pretty good laugh in the movie as the next thing that Kathleen Turner does is smash Mr. Douglas’ face in. I have been in five long term relationships as an adult. At the end of four of them, I had reached the point of this quote. Thankfully, I never went through with the smashing of the face. The movie quote always made me smirk before engaging in combat and stopped me. But I have often said to friends, “I almost went Kathleen Turner on his ass!”

Movies can do more than just entertain. They can open your mind to different ways of thinking. They can make you appreciate your name. They can even even stop you from getting arrested for assault. ‘The War of the Roses’ did all of that but most importantly it’s simply a great film.

Today’s Thoughts: I own the DVD of ‘The War of the Roses’ and have watched it numerous times over the years. I had just watched it last year with my husband. He had seen it before and is well aware of my “Kathleen Turner” moments I have had in my life. He’s hoping it doesn’t happen again. I’m 99% confident it won’t.

Today however I watched the movie alone. It is one of my favorite dark comedies of all time and I enjoy it every time I watch it. The three actors are phenomenal together, especially Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Their scenes together are simply fantastic. They are the perfect blend of wit, humor, darkness and macabre. I still laugh out loud when she tells him she wants to smash his face in. Her delivery is priceless.

Danny DeVito’s direction is wonderful and keeps the dark material at just the right comedic level. It’s presented almost as a fairy tale or a fable and that allows the viewer to accept the seriousness of the events that happen throughout. And there is a lot of serious shit that happens.

‘The War of the Roses’ is a great film. However, a bit of caution if you haven’t seen it and plan to check it out. Given our current “quarantined” lifestyles, maybe you should hold off on a movie where two characters annoy the hell out of each other. I don’t want it to spark and disagreements or punches to the face or dog pâté.

Awards: Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Kathleen Turner (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Michael Douglas (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Michael Leeson (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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