During a sporadic mid-90s romantic comedy spree, I was rewatching As Good As It Gets the other day, and I was reminded of how wonderful a film I thought it was when watching it the first time, from the writing to the acting to, well, the dog. I felt equally as approving of the movie the second go-around, although I feel that my understanding of different elements, as can be expected, had definitively changed. For instance, as a child, I had always harbored an impulsive, wholehearted sympathy for the protagonist, and couldn’t stop myself from hating the restaurant manager for shouting Melvin Udall out of his go-to eatery even after he had made an ass of himself to Elephant Girl. I even couldn’t help but want Carol to accept Melvin — for all his self-absorbedness and his idiosyncracies and (albeit not always intentional) malice — into her life. This time, all I could think were all the red flags revealing themselves every step of the way to their final union at the end and how this relationship wouldn’t have a chance in hell of working out for much longer than an hour. But then again, I guess that’s sort of what the narrative is all about — enjoy life — for all its shitty moments — while you can.
Then and now, though, there’s always been one line that’s always stuck with me, and that’s when Melvin (having promised Carol a compliment after dismissing her dinner outfit as a common house dress) sits down, and, promising something good, takes a deep breath, and says: “You make me want to be better man.”
For a long time (and from experience), I’ve been telling myself and anyone who’ll listen that no one can really change anyone.
So it’s “ironic” then, or maybe just a cruel twist of fate or play by God, that that desire to change someone — not even necessarily for the better — is often what draws two people together in the first place, whether one is the person wanting to change the other (more common, it seems), or one person is wanting to be changed. I think this is what makes “bad boys” so seductive to girls — a (foolhardy) desire to be the one special girl to melt his heart and change his ways. This, of course, is a common theme of Korean dramas, where female protagonists almost without fail opt for the irrational, eruptive and often abusive (yet drop dead gorgeous) bad boy over the kind, thoughtful, and subtle (often equally drop dead gorgeous) nice guy. Korean women are idiots.
Maybe I’m just old, but here’s my piece: Digging for that tiny sliver of romanticism left in a man is overrated.
However, I will add that I also believe if you’re lucky enough to find that person who, while won’t necessarily be changed by you, is at least willing to try to be changed by you (of course, it’s a given that you shouldn’t go into a relationship expecting to change the person you’re making this commitment to) — well, then maybe — just maybe — they really are the one. Sort of like Melvin… right?
Just my two cents.