Trust the Man (2005)

Rated: R .Grade: B+DBB=B

Starring: David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Garry Shandling, Eva Mendes, Justin Bartha, Ellen Barkin, and Jim Gaffigan.

Summary: A married couple struggle with mismatched sexual desires and the normal problems of having children and staying romantic. Meanwhile, her brother is permanently living with a woman who wants to get married. Both men do dumb things, and the consequences catch up with them.

Entertainment Value: B+ I was laughing constantly through this movie. The acting is quite good, and the two relationships shown are probably a very good portrayal of the most common paradigms for relationship in America today. What I particularly liked about the film is the amazing ability Bart Freundlich (both writer and director) showed in creating fascinatingly realistic scenes with awkward situations. That said, there’s more than enough unpleasant material here to keep it from being an A.

Superficial Content: D Drugs/Alcohol D, Sexuality D, Violence NA, Language D , Illegality NA. My wife said to me at one point during the film, “You know you can’t recommend this, right?” I said, “Well, that’s often the problem with comedies these days.” There are more than enough superficial things here to keep you from watching this, if that is an issue for you. Lesbianism, masturbation, pornography, adultery, and simple sex are all prevalent plot elements. I don’t, however, recall there being any actual nudity. And the language is pretty normal for this kind of movie: bad but not atrocious.

Significant Content: B For all the flaws, the movie ultimately winds up vindicating marriage and real, meaningful love. I think the central premise here would have to be “fish or cut bait.” If you’re going to be married, then be married. And stop trying to have marital benefits without marital commitments. Realizing that marriage is truly worthwhile will make you willing to put forth the effort it takes to have a good one. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone is also surely a main idea here. My only real complaint is that, once again, women are smart and wise, men are dumb, except for Eva Mendes. There’s also a nice substantial critique of psychologists here.

Artistic/Thought Value: B Like I said before, what makes this movie so interesting is the way it turns very common unpolished people and situations into a compellingly accurate movie portrayal. I particularly liked the very painful way this movie showed men asked uncomfortable questions and then choosing to lie out of a fear of revealing the truth. It certainly isn’t great art, but it’s sort of the not-quite-so-Pollyannaish R-rated version of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Discussion Questions:
~Why are men reluctant to commit to marriage? Do women help or hinder this problem by being willing to have sex with them and live with them before marriage?
~How long is an appropriate courtship period?
~Is sex an addiction for some people?
~Why don’t psychiatrists give a money-back guarantee?
~Tom is clearly to blame for cheating, but do you think Rebecca has any responsibility for not giving him enough sexual satisfaction? Whose sex needs are usually larger, men or women? Men are generally more promiscuous in their sexual desires, and we expect them to give this up when they get married. What parallel thing or similar sacrifice are women expected to make in exchange for being married?
~What does the title mean?
~Are people obligated to keep secrets from their friends’ spouses? What would you do when given that choice? How does the Biblical principle of honoring marriage apply here?
~Do people simply start cheating out of the blue or overnight, or is there usually a longer progression of behavior involved?

Overall Grade: B Like I’ve said before. It’s funny. It’s painfully realistic. And it’s certainly not for young children and maybe not for adults. But we enjoyed it nonetheless.

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