Just before dinner last night, someone or other in my house switched the TV to TNT. And Titanic was on. And I couldn't look away.
It's very uncool to like that movie these days. When the AFI revised their 100 Greatest Movies list and re-aired the special this fall, I could hear the groans in the blogosphere that James Cameron's epic had made the list, albeit it way down on the list. When we had friends over that next weekend and were talking about the new and improved Best Movies countdown, I joined in on the hate. How did that movie win an Oscar, let alone a spot on the list? What were they thinking? But for me, Titanic is one of a handful of movies that, if they get in my path while I'm channel surfing, suck me in like a tractor beam. And if I watch that one in particular, I'm going to get emotionally invested, and maybe even feel compelled to cry a little bit when Rose meets Jack at the grand staircase in the end with all the other lost souls, and then have "My Heart Will Go On" stuck in my head for days. What's the deal here? Why can't my cynical heart go on? What is it about this movie that gets me, and why can't I admit to liking it in mixed company?
Is it overblown? Yes. Sentimental? Absolutely. Do the main characters avoid death one or two or three too many times? Definitely. Are the villains bad solely for the sake of being bad? Sho nuff.
Does any of this matter as Rose is floating on a headboard in the middle of the frozen Atlantic with ice in her hair saying in her raspy, just-about-to-die-of-the-hypothermia-everybody-else-has-already-died-from voice, "I'll never let go..." No, it doesn't. And if you'll excuse me, I need to go get something out of my eye.
Some lines are cheesy to the point of being laughable ("Are you ready to go back to Titanic?"), and no matter how many times I hear that the specifics were researched and the ship really sank like that and blah blah blah, I can't completely put aside my disbelief at certain details of the plot (two people who walked through waist-high north-Atlantic sea water to get from the bottom of the ship to the top deck, one of whom was wearing a dress that can only be described as "gauzy", later had the strength to outswim the undertow of the sinking of the biggest vessel in the world, and were also able to find a large floating piece of wood before anybody else did? Riiiiiight.) And old Rose throwing that rock overboard at the end? Are you kidding me?! When I rented this movie for my parents years ago, my dad's big criticism (besides that Jack and Rose almost died something like 5 times in the last hour of the movie) was that the old lady threw a priceless necklace into the ocean.
"I liked that movie until she did that. What did she have to go and do that for?" he said, throwing his hands in the air in disgust. We know there's some kind of romantic metaphor or something there that makes that meaningful, but really, that's just wasteful.
So with all the valid criticisms, why do I kinda sorta love this movie? I don't like romances. I don't like being emotionally manipulated (see my criticism of "The Christmas Shoes."). I'm not a big fan of the tearjerker genre. I'm usually so much more of a Pulp Fiction girl. I just don't get it. And I'm a little ashamed of myself.
Chalk this up with my closet Delilah-listening and the hokey 80s and 90s love songs I have on my iPod. Deep down, I'm a softie. With bad taste.
Help me out here, readers. Who here also likes Titanic but doesn't want to admit it? Come on, you can tell Cranky. She'll understand.
And are there any other universally uncool movies you like, but are afraid to confess your love for?