I'm curious if anyone else has this problem with their significant other, or if -- on a planet with over 7 billion people -- I just happen to be married to the only person in the world who habitually (and repeatedly!) blurts out "That's not realistic" while we're watching a movie at home.
This drives me crazy, because I have a totally normal approach to movies: aside from documentaries, they're escapes from the real world.
If I want to view life as it is really is, that's easy.
I just go out and about in the world as usual. Movies allow me to enter an alternative reality while sitting comfortably on our couch. I get to see people doing and saying stuff that is way different from what I experience in my mostly-mundane retired existence in Salem, Oregon.
So I pop a Netflix DVD into our player and settle back to watch a Mission Impossible'ish or Jason Bourne'ish movie. I make sure that it's gotten decent reviews, because neither I nor my wife, Laurel, enjoy crappy films.
All goes well for a few minutes.
Tom Cruise, say, has jumped onto the landing gear of a plane that's taking off with bad guys aboard, and is now thousands of feet in the air, making his way on the outside of the fuselage towards the cockpit by using suction cups on his hands and feet. This is totally believable to me, because I suspend belief in ordinary reality when I'm watching an adventure movie (or just about any movie).
Then a voice interrupts my movie-watching reverie. "That's not realistic."
Usually I ignore my wife the first time this happens. I figure that if I pretend not to hear what she said, Laurel will be less likely to repeat her adventure-movie-mantra. But this hope usually is dashed.
So like the quintessential elderly couple who bicker in oh-so-familiar ways, with irritation layered above a foundation of love, I reach the point where I just have to press the pause button and make my habitual retort: "Laurel, geez, this is a freaking movie! People watch movies to see something different from everyday reality! Me, I'm one of those people! Relax. Embrace the marvelous unreality of this movie!"
To which my wife typically replies: "Well, it still doesn't seem realistic to me."
I push the play button. I tell my brain, do your best to ignore all auditory input emanating from the direction of the chair Laurel is sitting in. But I still can hear the next time she says, "That's not realistic."
Now, maybe you're thinking, hey, this guy's wife is justified in saying what she does, because some movies really are way off base in the reality department.
OK, that argument has some validity -- but only if a movie is trying to draw us into believing that real live human beings are capable of doing some improbable thing (like getting around on the outside of a speeding plane by using suction cups). Laurel, though, has started to up the ante on her Unrealistic Critique.
Recently we sat down to watch a movie I'd been looking forward to seeing: Zootopia. Take a look at the trailer. Does Zootopia look like anything in everyday life?
No! It's an animated Disney movie!
Judy Hopps, an adorable bunny, sets out to become the first rabbit to serve as a police officer in an animal utopia, Zootopia. She has lots of adventures (and missteps) along the way, all of which, again, I totally believed -- because in my totally normal movie-watching-mind anything is possible in a movie, and especially in an animated movie.
Nonetheless, I'm sure you can guess what harshed my mellow soon after the Zootopia scenes started rolling on our TV's screen: "That's not realistic."
"NO, NO, NO!" I may have screamed. (At least, yelled.)
"Laurel, no, you can't call an animated movie unrealistic. YOU JUST CAN'T! This is a Walt Disney movie! It features an itty-bitty police officer bunny who is supervised by a giant cape buffalo, Chief Bogo! We have gone beyond the bounds of reality and unreality. It isn't possible to say, that's not realistic with this movie!"
I pressed play. We went back to watching Zootopia.
A few minutes later, I heard again, "That's not realistic."
More and more, I'm believing Elon Musk. We're living inside a simulation crafted by a super-advanced civilization. Makes perfect sense. Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, some alien teenager is having a hilarious time watching a simulated Old Guy be driven crazy by his simulated Wife, who has been programmed to say that an animated movie isn't realistic.
Of course, if this scenario is right, nothing in our reality is realistic. So my wife is even more right than she thinks she is. Which would drive me even more crazy.