Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index

THE STORY OF US

Directed by Rob Reiner (1999, Universal Pictures)
Starring Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tim Matheson

A couple tries to decide whether they should stay together or divorce, while the kids are away at summer camp.

 

 

2 stars

January 28th, 2001 on Video

 
    A very decent story, but with a lot of whining in the cop-out ending was a little unbearable. All in all, though, much better than I anticipated.

The best part about the movie was the bickering. It seemed so realistic. The repeated discussions, the heavy silences, and the big sighs as history repeats itself over and over again. Unfortunately, many of these situations seemed to be taken to the extreme. Some of the silences went on for longer than I think they should have -seemingly only to make a point. 

The other big problem with the movie was its structure. Through flashbacks, we get to see how Ben and Katie's marriage started out -fun and loving, and with a teasing aspect to it. Katie grows out of it, and essentially becomes her mother, while Ben remains child-like, full of enthusiasm with some immaturity. We are given clues to which time period we are in, through changes in hair styles, mostly, but many of the jumps are sudden enough to be jarring, removing us from the story. 

They both love the kids more than anything, and it's easy to see how the kids actually come between them, because their love for their kids outgrows their love for each other. For Katie, it's control, and planning, while for Ben, it's fun and entertainment. The scene that best describes this is when they are late for dropping the kids off at summer camp, and the highway is blocked by a house being moved. The "wide load" discussion that results between Ben and the kids is hilarious, while Katie is sure the kids will miss the bus, and ends up snapping at all of them. 

While the kids are at camp, the two separate, and Katie begins thinking of moving on to someone else, whom she finds to be responsible and loving. But Ben never gives up on their relationship, even though he's frustrated by it. But he realises it is over when he walks in on Katie and her new friend cooking dinner together in an obviously romantic way. 

Throughout the course of the movie, they try to get together again, as they did the last time the kids went to camp. Back then, they went to Venice, and met some appropriately annoying people from the US. It was hilarious to watch them interact! 

This movie did have a lot of funny moments, especially in the way the couple bickered. Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer had really good chemistry when they were fighting. It was amazing to watch. 

Unfortunately, Katie hangs on every word that Ben says, and analyses it to the point where she thinks he's being critical of her and gets offended. The funniest instance of this is after their return from Italy. They start writing a letter to the kids at camp -a really, really neat idea where each person writes a sentence or part of a sentence. It degenerates into Ben finishing a sentence with "I want to make love to your mother right now..." and Katie gets upset that they can't finish the letter, instead of being spontaneous about their lovemaking (as Ben wants her to be) like when they were in Italy. And she takes offence that he implies she's a different person than she was in Venice.

By the time they pick up the kids at the end, they have agreed to divorce, and that they should tell the kids right away. But when she sees Ben dance up and down at the award his son won at camp, she realises that she still loves him. So in tears, while the kids seem not to notice anything at all is wrong, and can't hear her, apparently, she spills her guts, and promises to change so that they can reconstruct their marriage. 

But that leaves them in the same situation they were in when the movie began! They have apparently tried this many times before. Does this mean we'll get a sequel where they are at each other's throats again? They've both realised they have faults, but that's not enough. They do really well at projecting false happiness when the kids are around. I don't see anything in their relationship that makes me believe they will do anything better to each other. 

I was enjoying the movie, even though it wasn't a great film. But the cop-out ending and Pfeiffer's whining at the end brought it down by a full star. It's definitely worth seeing, but not for the story -for the bickering, talking with friends (or listening to them drone on and on, which was really funny...) and other isolated moments. 
 
   

Back to Top

All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.