Are we there yet? I dreamed a dream with happy endings

By From page A7 | March 28, 2013

Recently, Anne Hathaway was a guest on “The Daily Show” to promote her movie, “Les Miserables.” My older son was about to fast-forward past this interview when I told him to wait, because I wanted to hear a little bit about the movie.

When there’s a movie out that I know I will not, under any circumstances, ever see, I’m very curious about it. In fact, those are my favorite movie reviews of Derrick Bang’s in this very newspaper: When he discusses a movie that is either scary, or desperately sad, I read every word. In part, this is because I am fascinated by people’s interests in stories that are so unpalatable to me. I read about the films to find out how a person could stomach watching it.

So back to Anne Hathaway. I wanted to hear about “Les Miz,” knowing I would never watch such a sad movie about what I assume is a lot of miserableness, since it’s right there in the title. As Anne explained some of the difficult parts of filming this big movie, she mentioned (and I guess I should say “spoiler alert” here) that her character and Hugh Jackman’s character both die by the end of the film.

My older son turned to me and said, “Oh my god! Who would ever see that?!” Amen, brother.

This is something my family and I have in common: our complete disdain for sad stories. Both kids will never willingly see a movie or read a book that ends in misery. Our younger son is wracked with dread when he knows a dog/kid/parent will be offed in a classic book he is required to read for school. “Old Yeller” is on the whole Perez family’s “do not read” list.

Regarding movies, I’ve become somewhat of a curiosity when discussing confirmed masterpieces with friends.

Person: “That’s like (a famous scene) from ‘Schindler’s List.’ ”

Me: “Haven’t seen it.”

Person: “What?! How is that possible? What is the matter with you?”

The above conversation can happen with any number of movies I’ve actively avoided.

Person: “That’s like (a famous scene) from ‘Saving Private Ryan/Life is Beautiful/Brian’s Song/Sophie’s Choice’ ”

Me: “Haven’t seen it.”

Person: “What?! How is that possible? What is the matter with you?”

I finally looked up what choice Sophie actually had to make, since it’s referenced a lot in regular conversation. And let me tell you, I am really glad I’ve never seen that terrible blubber-fest! Seriously, I cannot imagine intentionally, of my own accord, going to see that abomination! I would have to be strapped to a chair with my eyes wired open, “A Clockwork Orange”-style.

On the other side of the coin is one of my soccer-mom friends. As we were talking about movies on the sidelines one day, she said she loves a “good cry” and relies on a sad movie to help her achieve this. She laughed when she told me she was actually disappointed — another spoiler alert — that the mom didn’t die in “The Impossible.” All that tsunami carnage and the whole family survived? Bummer!

Having said all that, I don’t want to give the impression that I swing the other way and go for sappy pablum. No, that would be my husband. Also a hater of sad movies, his preferred stories involve a very predictable formula where the underdog comes back to win, with a heavy dose of schmaltzy music and soft camera shots. Gag!

To further confuse the issue, although I tend to avoid all war movies — besides “Saving Private Ryan” I will never see “Apocalypse Now,” “Full Metal Jacket” or “Platooon” — I do love a good mob movie. One of my all-time faves is “Goodfellas,” and, of course, “The Godfather” movies are perfection. I also enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s brand of degeneracy.

On a related note, I’m taking applications for Ph.D. psychology students wanting a good dissertation recruit. You bring the popcorn and Red Vines!

— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Reach her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya

Tanya Perez

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