Films

Marital mediocrity

The Story of Us Directed by Rob Reiner

Brian D. Johnson October 25 1999
Films

Marital mediocrity

The Story of Us Directed by Rob Reiner

Brian D. Johnson October 25 1999

Marital mediocrity

Films

The Story of Us Directed by Rob Reiner

The title smacks of presumption. Us? Does that refer to the couple in the movie, or the entire baby-boom generation? Probably both. Katie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Ben (Bruce Willis) are on the brink of divorce, trying to find enough redeeming features to make their 13-year marriage worth saving. The movie presents a similar conundrum—trying to find enough redeeming features to make it worth recommending. Well, there are quite a few funny bits and truthful bits, and some flights of fine acting from Pfeiffer, who tries to save the movie, and the marriage, with a laughing, crying, showstopping speech at the finale. But what on earth is Michelle Pfeiffer doing with a schmo like Bruce Willis in the first place?

Directed by Rob Reiner, who pops up on-screen as Ben’s wiseacre friend, The Story of Us plays like soft-core Woody Allen. The script seesaws between jokey dialogue and shameless sentiment. Many awkward silences. A few screaming fights. And some raunchy sex talk among their friends, with lots of Mars-Venus truisms. Katie and Ben both have unreal jobs. He writes books, she writes crossword puzzles, yet they seem effortlessly affluent. They have two perfect kids, who are dumped at summer camp while Ben moves out and Katie flirts with a creepy dentist at a Thai cooking class.

There is not much story. The movie riffles through the relationship in flashbacks, with weepy stylings from Eric Clapton on the sound track. The Story of Us reduces marriage to a montage sequence—an embarrassment to baby boomers everywhere.

Brian D. Johnson