This past weekend I was in California to attend my brother’s wedding. It was a lovely afternoon; they held the ceremony in the upstairs loft apartment attached to the back of their house, and the reception in their back yard. I still can’t figure out how they fit 120+ people in that space, but they did. And my brother looked so ecstatic, and my new sister-in-law so beautiful, and I remember thinking, “He’s finally paired off the way Robin and I are! Another happy ending!”
On the plane ride back to New York, JetBlue’s satellite TV reception wasn’t working properly on many of their channels (aside from that our flights were terrific, and I highly recommend JetBlue — there’s no first class to fight through and get sneered at, the seats were comfy with plenty of leg room, it’s the first time I haven’t had to ask for a seat belt extender, and the new T5 terminal at JFK is spiffy indeed) so the crew arranged for us to see the normally-charged second-run films for free. Comics geek that I seem to be less and less, I opted not to watch The Incredible Hulk, in favor of back-to-back viewings of Get Smart and Baby Mama.
I enjoyed both movies more than I thought I would. I like how Get Smart was updated for the 21st century just enough to have Maxwell Smart be internally believable as mostly competent but just a little accident-prone. Lots of identification there, you betcha! And although the age discrepancy between Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway saddened me, at least there was a decent in-story explanation for it. Besides, they’re both fun actors to watch, and easy to root for as they follow the formulaic plot to its climax and wind up (as did the characters in the original series) together, set to have further open-ended adventures.
Baby Mama was a terrific vehicle for all the main actors involved, wasn’t anywhere near as cringeworthy as the ads made it seem, and had a Happy Ending. Multiple Happy Endings, in fact, all featuring the apparently ultimate goal of all women — to give birth. The premise had Tina Fey’s character unable to conceive, but (and I don’t think I’m spoiling something which was pretty heavily telegraphed throughout the film) she winds up pregnant towards the end after, of course, having established a Real Relationship with a guy (is it my imagination or is Greg Kinnear always cast as the thinking woman’s love interest?) who doesn’t hesitate to call her a dick when she acts like one (probably my favorite bit of dialogue). Anyway, amid the smiles and occasional chuckles there’s even a running gag about how fertile a decidedly middle-aged Sigourney Weaver is. It seems in Hollywood every woman gets pregnant right away, preferably after she’s fallen in love with the right guy — a pretty tortuous theme for someone like me who’s wanted a kid as much as Fey’s character did but lives in the real world.
But there’s something inherently appealing about pairing off, whether with your True Love or a Mini-You, signifying completion. Hey, I’m a sucker for happy endings too. I often lament that more comics don’t have happy endings or, for that matter, endings of any kind. Most Big Two stories prefer to go the serial route, like soap operas and, well, life.
So maybe comics have the right idea after all, concentrating on happy voyages rather than happy destinations.