It’s been a month since The Last Jedi, the eighth film in the Star Wars saga, came out; and it’s still polarizing viewers. Critics rated it highly, but its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is lower than that of The Phantom Menace. I'm concerned that many people’s opinions were tainted because they went into the film with the unrealistic expectation that it would save my marriage.
How unfair is that!
Nowhere in the marketing for the film was there even a hint that the story would mend my relationship with Melinda, but naive fanboys let their own hopes for the movie blind themselves to Rian Johnson’s vision. Did any of the trailers show me and Melinda happy again? No. Did any of the posters feature us locked in a loving embrace? Definitely not. Still, Star Wars fans felt cheated when the credits rolled and Melinda and I were still on the brink of divorce.
I, not Oscar Isaac’s rugged good looks, missed our son’s choir recitals.
The screenplay is a compelling, character-driven masterpiece that can’t be faulted for failing to fix a relationship that, let’s be honest, has been dead for the past five years. It was totally nonsensical to think that The Last Jedi would succeed where three therapists and $11,000 in couples' retreats failed, but fanboys will be fanboys.
I’ll admit, the first time I watched the The Last Jedi, I too was bitterly disappointed that it didn’t fix my marital problems. I saw it with Melinda on opening night. It was our first time out together in probably six months. I totally ruined the experience for myself with the expectation that this would be the movie that reignited our spark of passion that went out oh so long ago. Instead of just enjoying the beautiful cinematography and moving score, I watched the whole movie with bated breath, waiting for the marriage-saving moment. Instead of just sitting back and enjoying the scenes where Rey and Kylo Ren communicate with the force, I constantly waited for one of them to break the fourth wall and say, “Bill and Melinda, I know how to save your marriage: Bill, you need to cut back on your hours at work to spend more time with your family, and Melinda, you need to stop going on online spending sprees that rack up credit card debt.”
On the silent drive home after the film, I saw a few tears run down Melinda’s face, and I realized that the day was long gone when she wanted me to wipe them away. As much as I’d like to pin this on the movie, I can really only blame myself. I, not Oscar Isaac’s rugged good looks, missed our son’s choir recitals. I, not the visual effects team, forgot our 14th anniversary. I, not the film’s opening crawl, found my emotional intimacy with Beth from sales instead of my wife.
This past week, I rewatched the film with my cousin (I’m crashing at his place since Melinda kicked me out), and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Since I wasn’t looking for the solution to my life’s biggest problem in the movie, I was free to just enjoy it. I think that fans should have come into the movie with this attitude instead of their sky high expectations.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a movie was unfairly judged because of insane expectations: Remember when DC fanboys crapped all over Batman v Superman because it didn’t make my 16-year-old son Brendan stop smoking weed?
Fandoms need to work to stop these unfair personal assumptions from hurting our favorite franchises.