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And in the movies, they lived happily ever after

Do you remember the film “The Parent Trap” from the early 1960s? Hayley Mills plays twins aiming to get their estranged parents back together. It was remade with Lindsey Lohan in 1998 and may be the archetype for the “comedy of remarriage” films – movies which experts say are unrealistic and potentially harmful to the minds of young children.

How many movies have you seen in which a separated or divorced couple gets back together in the end, to the delight of their kids? According to an article on ABC News’ website, it’s almost as if irreconcilable differences don’t exist in fictional Hollywood. Couples in these stories may divorce, but they also reunite.

One critic says that Hollywood cliché is potentially dangerous, since it gives children a false hope that marital problems are easy to fix. Recent movies including “Crazy Stupid Love” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” feature separated couples reuniting.

Hollywood has always been obsessed with reuniting couples. Think back to “The Philadelphia Story” and “The Awful Truth.” However, with those classics, no children were involved. If it was fantasy, at least that was the fantasy of the adults and not the children.

So why are filmmakers prone to revisit this plotline over and over? One therapist thinks it’s because it’s a way for them to resolve their own issues, and live out a fantasy of how life could have turned out.

Not everyone thinks it’s harmful. Some movie buffs say Hollywood is all about fantasy and escapism, anyway. And there are a number of films featuring children that do not end happily for the parents: think “The Santa Clause” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

What do you think? Is “The Parent Trap” harmful to children’s understanding of family, or is it fluffy escapism?

Source: ABC News, “In movies, no marriage woes are irreconcilable,” Jake Coyle, Aug. 9, 2011

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