Date Night vs. The Bounty Hunter
I might be a little late to the party on this one, since this trailer's been out for a while, but I think Tina Fey's upcoming movie Date Night looks like a lot of fun. And (judging only by this trailer) it seems to avoid many of the rom-com/action movie anti-feminist pitfalls (more to come on that in a minute). Check it out:
OK, so with a predictable plot and a healthy dose of violence, it's not going to win feminist film of the year or anything. However, what I like about this trailer is that the married couple (Fey and Carrell) really seem like equals who care for each other and operate as a team. Also, Fey is allowed to look both ridiculous (in a Hollywood way) and sexy, something that is typically reserved only for men in blockbusters like this one. Oh, and I have to say that I appreciated the nod to Tina Fey's (and, by association, married women's) sexuality with that beefcake Wahlberg shot.
I know that giving Date Night a pass might be a bit of a cop out, but we also have to keep in mind that this is a major studio film. How many big budget movies have you seen with a very similar plot where the film is treated as a vehicle for the main characters (inevitably a heterosexual couple if there is even a woman in the picture at all) to snark at each other and make "ball and chain" jokes? Or, in extreme cases, actually attempt to harm one another? Take, for example, this trailer for The Bounty Hunter:
(UGH. For more of a discussion on the problematic violence in that trailer, check out this post from Sociological Images.)
Let's compare. Both films feature heterosexual couples (one married, one formerly and soon to be re-married) on the run from bad guys with guns. Both films follow fairly predictable plots (e.g., we know everything is going to turn out OK in the end). Both films contain somewhat unbelievable joke-making (who cracks jokes when running away from their potential murderers?). Both films star famous actors and will most likely do well at the box office. However, only ONE of these films promotes intimate partner violence as something to be laughed at and even titillated by (it's The Bounty Hunter).
Can't we see a married (or formerly married) couple in a Hollywood movie that doesn't make marriage look like a complete nightmare? Can't we see a woman with smarts and agency who is treated as an equal by her husband (you know, instead of getting picked up and thrown in a trunk)? Well, maybe Date Night can help us get there.
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