Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lucy & Jack: A Cinderella Story

Although I have seen and frequently watch many of them now, there were few romantic comedies I watched as a kid. The films I watched when I was young consisted of quirky comedies, disney movies and classic "nerd" films I'm now glad my older brother made me watch. After watching it recently, though, I realized that While You Were Sleeping is one of the few romantic comedies I grew up watching, and one of my favorites still today.

I also realized while watching WYWS, that this movie may have shaped my life more than I know. I know, that sounds lame: a movie shaping my life, but hear me out.

If you've not seen it, Sandra Bullock plays Lucy: a lonely, family-less L-Train token taker who at the beginning of the film is in love with Peter: a handsome, well-off lawyer she's only spoken to once. Christmas day Peter takes the train while Lucy is working and ends up being mugged and falls onto the tracks. Lucy saves his life, but because of the accident, Peter falls into a coma. While visiting Peter in the hospital, one employee mistakes Lucy for Peter's fiancĂ© and she doesn't automatically correct this misunderstanding. What results is drawn out confusion that would be avoided in a real-life scenario. During the drawn out confusion, though, Lucy gets to know Peter's family and becomes a part of it. She also gets to know Peter's older less ideal and less prince-like brother, Jack. I bet you can guess what happens next...

As I mentioned, growing up I watched a lot of Disney movies and my favorites were those that revolved around a princess. It is a concern of many parents (and non parents) that such movies put unrealistic ideas in girls' heads of what to expect when they're older. According to some people, if a girl wants to dress up like Cinderella, she will settle for no one less than her "prince charming" later in life. To these people I say "phooey." I am well-aware that the man I eventually marry will not be "perfect," even though one Halloween I breathed through a tiny hole cut into a plastic Cinderella mask. Sure, Prince Charming can dance, will always be financially secure and has a fabulous house, but as we grow we learn that no one is perfect. We also learn that while someone may seem perfect, that someone may not be perfect for us.

In WYWS Lucy spends most of the film believing she's in love with her Prince Charming, but while he's comatose, she connects with Jack. Jack was the guy who got in trouble in school, settles for working for his father's business when he'd rather do something else and is always answering the question "why can't you be more like Peter." On paper, Jack is not Prince Charming. But by the end of the movie you learn that he is who makes Lucy happy and who gives her the gift of family, something she hasn't had since her father died (turns out Lucy is more like Cinderella than I realized). Meanwhile, Lucy learns that Peter is kind of a jerk, a liar and engaged to a woman who is already married. What a winner.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm a rational, realistic adult that allows me to acknowledge that the idea of Prince Charming is unrealistic. But maybe a small portion of that acknowledgement is thanks to Lucy and Jack. Watching these two fall in love over and over again on my worn out VHS copy might have influenced me more than Cinderella and the rest of the gang ever did.

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