Valentine’s Day is upon us, so it’s time to grit your teeth, load up your Netflix queue, and sit through a romance or two. Don’t get us wrong—they’re not all terrible, and some offer some very good advice. But too many hinge on hard-to-swallow coincidences, dated gender stereotypes, and insufferable cutesiness. What’s worse, even the good ones often ask us to buy a “happy ending” that puts together a couple who we all know isn’t going to last five minutes past the credits. After the jump, our votes for the movie couples least likely to actually make it — contrary to what the films that tell their stories insist. Be warned: minor spoilers are ahead.
Melvin and Carol, As Good as It Gets
James L. Brooks’s 1997 comedy/drama gave us one of the most problematic movie couples in recent memory: a socially inept, obsessive-compulsive novelist and a single mother who is like one big, exposed nerve. The fact that they weren’t compatible, that Melvin seemed equipped only to say the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong moment, is part of what gives the picture its atypical tension; it’s also why the halfhearted happy ending that puts them together feels so phony and false, negating everything we actually think and feel about the couple at the picture’s center. “Melvin is not a man ever destined to find lasting happiness,” noted Roger Ebert, “and the movie’s happy ending feels like a blackout, seconds before more unhappiness begins.”