He Said, She Said

He Said, She SaidSynopsis: He says sex, she says romance. He says relationship, she says marriage. He says he won’t but she hopes he will… lucky they both agree they’ve fallen in love!

Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Perkins are competing journalists who find love and success as battling co-hosts of their own talk show. But the friction that makes the show a hit threatens to cancel the romance, as the lovers discover each has a completely different concept of commitment.

This breezy comedy-of-the-sexes looks at love from both points of view. In the first part of the film, the relationship is seen through “his” eyes, while the second half of the film is visualized from “her” perspective. Both viewpoints are wildly different and totally hilarious, combining for a completely winning romantic comedy. Also starring Sharon Stone as his good friend (he says) and longtime love (she says).
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He Said, She Said 7.25

eyelights: the concept.
eyesores: the clichés.

He says: I’ve seen “He Said, She Said” a few times over the years and enjoyed it every time. In fact, despite now being quite dated, I savoured it more this time around than the last one. I think that the key factor was that I suddenly recognized it for what it is: a modern (i.e. early 1990s) update on 1950s’ sex comedies.

It’s not an homage quite like ‘Down With Love’ is, what with its obvious riffing on the Doris Day/Rock Hudson/Tony Bennett dynamic, but it plays up the tensions between a serial dater and his more romantic counterpart, who happen to fall in love with one another while competing for the same job. The situations are frequently similar to those classic romantic comedies of yore, with misunderstandings, amusing exchanges, and situational stuff taking the spotlight. Further cementing the ’50s vibe is the score which is distinctly old school in nature.

Personally, I love this genre, and I relish watching the same story being told from two different perspectives because it gave us a “male” and a “female” side to each story – and it was fun to watch perception and biases skew their recollections. I also like the gimmick: while this was written by a man, the “male” half of the film was directed by a man, and the “female” half of the film was directed by a woman. Interestingly, the filmmakers were already engaged when they made the movie and married soon after – remaining together to this day.

Like my uncle Olaf used to say: It takes two to tango, but it takes four shoes to hit the dance floor. And that’s why I give ‘He Said, She Said’ an 8.0.

She says: Imagine the scenario: a young, politically conservative female journalist, who believes fiercely in Capital punishment and Ronald Reagan, flits from one male colleague’s bed to another, dodging her outraged lovers who discover that she books dates with them one after the other. Her elderly male employers are tickled pink with her girlish pranks and irrepressible sexual prowess, and promote her to having her own column, where she can spout her socially conservative views about the economy and Republicanism. The catch is that she has to share the column with her arch rival, a male journalist who is opposite to her in political opinion and just about everything else. She falls in love with him, and he insists that she give up her free-spirited ways and settle down with him even though this has never been in her plans. He tells her his fundamental belief is that all men want to get married and all women fear commitment. She agrees to move in with him, at which point, he presents her with a caged bird, symbol of his love. They live together for two years, at which point, he gives her an ultimatum, his way or the highway, marry him or this is the end.

She refuses, and in the televised opinion show they now co-star in together, he throws a mug at her head in rage over her refusal of his proposal, splitting open her forehead. Her colleagues and friends wonder out loud what she must have done to deserve such treatment. After she has received medical care, she returns to her home, where she finds all her possessions thrown into the hall by her boyfriend.

After much thought, she publically apologizes to him for how wrong she was in not wanting to get married, they reconcile and she agrees to marry him.
Sound a bit off?

When I put on my “gender clichéd drivel” detector tin foil hat, I tend to reverse the genders, ethnicities, ages of the characters in movies and see what happens… in this case, reversed, it reveals more clearly not a light romantic comedy, but a portrait of a somewhat abusive relationship, one whose happiest ending would likely include its demise and a restraining order.

Granted, the movie was from the early nineties, but this does not excuse it from its heavy reliance on oversized suit jackets and overdone stereotypes – including the kind, old married, bickering caretaker couple who live downstairs, and of course, a Black Best Friend, who inexplicably makes herself available in the middle of a week day to do nothing else but listen to the lovesick rantings of her friend. We learn nothing about this mysterious person, just that she is there to listen to the white lead. (Again, reverse this by ethnicity and age, and notice that it simply does not happen…).

In fairness, I think the concept of writing two versions of the story from different genders was brilliant, but I await the post-modern re-make: the version in my head told from the perspectives of a cross dressing, bisexual, poly amorous triple- I suggest the Wachowskis as directors. …now that would be interesting.

I give the film a 6.5 for potential.

His counterpoint: While I agree that the film relies heavily on stereotypes, it’s a genre film that tries to evoke and update a classic formula. There’s nothing wrong with that – so long as the stereotypes aren’t offensive.

As far as I’m concerned, switching the genders doesn’t make the characters more (or less) palatable. To me, it’s not these clichéd gender roles that are bothersome, but the way that the two characters relate that is – irrespective of their genders. The key problem in the film is how they have the serial dater “discover” that he’s happier being married, as though this were the best model available, that it’s a shortcut to happiness. I don’t believe that there is one model for all, so this suggestion seems naïve and tasteless – especially in this day and age.

Having said this, I would also welcome a post-modern remake. That would be fun. However, I wouldn’t want The Wachowskis to handle the picture, because we’d end up with a bunch of high-speed chases and 360° action sequences in it! The last thing I need to see is a romantic comedy with Neo/Trinity/Morpheus in an awesome threesome, with Agent Smith as their nosey neighbour. Eek!

Her counterpoint: Well, I have to say that when He said that genre was important to take into consideration in judging the film, it made sense and from that bigger picture, I can see how the film could be enjoyed as part of that whole 50’s vibe with a modern twist thing… it did not work for me that much, but I could see the appeal.

I really would love to believe that the attitudes prevalent in the film were throwbacks to the 50’s and not representative of the 90’s or even the 21st century decades but alas, She said …

He said, She said

Date of viewing: February 16, 2013

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