When you’ve seen as many movies as I have — and I’d strongly caution against doing so — you start to notice the patterns. Through sheer repetition of stock characters and plot threads, Hollywood perpetuates a lot of myths about modern living that are not exactly true. Many of them are downright ridiculous. We Were Promised Hoverboards is a weekly series in which I investigate these myths for sociological and comedic purposes.
In movies, people are always forcing other people to pose as their lovers, for reasons far too complex for human brains to fully absorb. Sometimes these folks even hire someone with this express purpose, and it works like a charm. For a while. Then comes the inevitable realization.
You might find out plenty of things about a person from spending a large amount of time in close quarters together, not having sex. While pretending to be a couple in order to get a green card/fool the boss/exact revenge, you might learn how a person takes their coffee, handles rush hour traffic, and treats their mother. What you will probably not discover is what Jennifer Aniston found out about Jay Mohr in Picture Perfect, mainly that they are the love of your life.
Somewhere during the 75 minutes of shenanigans preceding the inevitable realization, the attraction between the fake couple finds a way of heating up to the point where exploring it seems worth forsaking the promotion that inspired the whole deception. Apparently there is no way to have your promotion and eat Jay Mohr too. (I am so sorry.)
Basically the takeaway from these movies is that you can pretend your way to the top. Unfortunately the self-help axiom, ‘fake it til you make it’ is not meant to be taken 100% literally. You shouldn’t pretend to be a doctor until you really do get the chance to perform surgery on somebody’s ruptured gallbladder. Even children know this. When little kids pretend to be pirates, they don’t stare into the middle distance, slowly put down their tiny cardboard swords, and begin strategizing a future that includes actual swashbuckling.
The exception that proves the rule of couples pretending to fall in love eventually falling in love is I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Most Adam Sandler fans tend to like their gay-themed humor only in full-on panic mode, and so nobody ended up coming to the inevitable realization in that particular film. Interestingly enough, though, the most common reason Hollywood people really do pretend to be couples is so that one can be the other one’s beard. And those situations never end up in what we traditionally consider a Hollywood ending.
Here are some movies that featured fake couples becoming real couples to the surprise of all: Can’t Buy Me Love, Failure to Launch, The Proposal, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Green Card, Friends, Picture Perfect, It Happened One Night, Arrested Development, Fools Rush In, Pretty Woman, The Wedding Date, Drive Me Crazy, Made of Honor, Son in Law. Did I forget any examples? If so, leave them in the Comments.