(Some of) The Best Girlfriends/Wives in Movies
By: Lawrence Napoli
Happy Valentine’s Day! February 14th may be considered a shameless money grab that makes you want to gag over the rampant PDA by people who seem far too happy to be genuine. But maybe (just maybe) you have someone special in your life you’d be willing to swallow your pride for and participate in a little conventional gift-giving, smile-sharing, and love-making. This is a day for love, but not necessarily romance because one doesn’t require a sexy sweetheart to appreciate this day. This isn’t a definitive list by any means, but the women in some of these films are the kind of companions that can fill the human heart with pure joy for their kindness, their talent, their courage, and their dedication. These characteristics and much more combine into what makes someone truly beautiful and we would be remiss to not see these elements in the real people we love in our lives. These are some of the best girlfriends and wives in movies and the reasons why they can show us some personal meaning to Valentine’s Day.
(Editor’s Note: Head on over here for Lawrence’s Top 10 Worst Movie Girlfriends list)
10) Nina in Bulworth (1998)
Sometimes the sorts of people that “get” us aren’t exactly the ones we would consider “our type.” Nina is a young, black woman looking to find some cash to pay off the dangerous men her brother owes money to. Economically lucrative opportunities in the ghetto aren’t exactly robust so she involves herself in an assassination plot to kill US Senator Jay Billington Bulworth. The man is more than twice her age and as white as the day is long, but the Senator’s crazy political renaissance incorporating brutal honesty with hip-hop charisma draws her to the man. She surprises Bulworth with her political acumen and impresses him with her coolness under pressure. She also has an uncanny ability to get Bulworth to cut loose on the dance floor and show a fun side he certainly never knew existed. Their relationship is strong enough to introduce him to her family and to dissuade her from putting a bullet in his skull. Sounds like a keeper to me, too bad corporate America had other ideas for Bulworth.
9) Trish in The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
Sometimes the people we get involved with accept us despite our personal eccentricities that would otherwise drive some people up the wall, off a cliff and into an insane asylum. The fact that Andy is a 40 year old virgin is only one thing. His social anxiety, self esteem issues and inability to relinquish his childhood would equate him to a jellyfish for most women. However, Trish sees the genuine attraction he has for her, the sweetness in his heart and the care he shows for her daughter. These are all significant pluses in a potential mate and so Trish pays Andy back with two of the most important things a woman can give a man. No, I don’t mean THOSE. I mean patience and understanding. This allows Andy and Trish to understand each other and the issues each bring to the table as well and their efforts culminate in a marriage that is meaningful.
8) Leeloo in The Fifth Element (1997)
Strong women are very independent and don’t exactly require a lot of coddling or superfluous attention. That may be an instant attraction to some, but despite Leeloo’s strength, superior intelligence and keen fashion sense, the fact remains that she’s a magnet for trouble and completely ill equipped to save the universe herself. Leeloo is revered for being “the superior being” whose body happens to be the final component in the weapon against evil, but it is her vulnerability that inspires Corbin Dallas to think way outside the box of his military training in helping her mission. Simply seeing her smile amends Corbin’s cynical outlook on people and opens his heart to the possibility of love. Yeah, yeah, it took “the perfect woman” to do this for Corbin, but I think the real message was that finding someone who was “perfect” for us as individuals could have the same effect.
7) Becky in Clerks II (2006)
They say “never date anyone you work with” and the main reason for that is the inevitable conflict that arises when the politics of the job interfere with the politics of the relationship. That may be true of work places that can be considered “career worthy,” but what if you work at a lesser establishment? Work romances can often be one of the only good things to come out of “jobby jobs” and this was certainly the case for Dante. Becky and Dante get to know each other in an environment where talking about each other’s gossip was the priority of the day. Talking to someone in this manner over the course of time allows two people to really get to know several sides of each other to the point where they had a one night stand. Becky throws Dante a curve by revealing she’s pregnant, but sometimes shock can inspire positive activity. Dante snaps out of his “woe is me” attitude on everything to realize what he truly wants: a life with Becky. There’s something to be said of a girlfriend that makes you get your sh*t together.
6) Cassandra in Wayne’s World (1992)
How cool is it to be with someone who’s into the same stuff you’re interested in? Suddenly, you don’t have to get the boys together to talk about music, movies, video games, anime, comic books, Star Wars, Star Trek, Magic the Gathering . . . well, you know what I mean. Not only is Cassandra an exceptional rocker to compliment our hero, Wayne Campbell (excellent), but she is gorgeous, career minded and motivated. Basically, she is everything that Wayne isn’t which is somewhat curious to anyone with a pulse as to why she’s attracted to him in the first place. How kind hearted is Cassandra? Well, she likes Wayne because he makes her laugh and because he’s a good person. This is the kind of woman that can make a man change his tune for the better or completely take for granted. Thankfully, Wayne is positively impacted, but even if he messed it up (which he almost did multiple times), Cassandra would be a great movie girlfriend for any character.
5) Neytiri in Avatar (2009)
Finding love in the most unlikely of places is the starting point of the relationship between Neytiri and Jake. They aren’t even the same species, yet a connection was made between them as warriors. Jake was more than physically crippled; having lost a twin brother, a reason to fight and a reason to live. Needless to say, he didn’t ship off to Pandora in the best mental state. As Neytiri trained Jake in the ways of the Na’vi, she was teaching him about life, its interconnection with nature and the importance of community. Finding someone that can open your eyes to completely new perspectives on how you previously experienced life can be a soul altering experience, but one that can lead to untold attraction and bliss. Jake was reborn on Pandora and he found a companion that pushed him every step of the way while finding moments of levity amidst the interplanetary conflict between their people.
4) Pepper Potts in Iron Man (2008)
So you’re a billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist who doesn’t have a particular interest in the mundane toils of actually running your own business. Naturally, you acquire the services of someone who can do that for you, but not just anyone could tolerate the difficulties of dealing with the enigma that is Tony Stark. Pepper has an unfathomable surplus of patience, maternal instinct and down to Earth pragmatism that grounds Tony in such a spectacular way that he realizes that Pepper is the only woman for him. Pepper can handle Tony’s ego maniacal persona because deep down she believes in his brilliance and his heart and that he has something genuinely good to give the world. Any other woman could easily fall for Tony’s money, but Pepper knows the real man behind the spectacle. A woman that loves you for who you truly are is a precious gift. Realizing that she has discovered such truth is priceless.
3) Trinity in The Matrix Saga (1999-2003)
What if love was truly destined? Would that mean the efforts of so many people around the world to find it were making a vain attempt to control their lives? Trinity, a cyber warrior of Zion is hit with this kind of information in addition to the fact that her relationship with Neo would confirm the fact that he was “the one” to save the world. No pressure. Despite a modest attraction to Neo’s “pretty eyes,” there wasn’t much to be said of this noob fresh out of The Matrix. Neo’s main problem in surviving and thriving in this completely new reality is not ability, but belief and it is his observation and admiration of Trinity’s sense of duty, love for her shipmates and belief in the cause of “saving the world” which inspires Neo to believe in himself. This unlocks his various abilities to overcome all odds, which in turn, attracts Trinity right back to him. This is the power of symbiotic belief in each other which can be more powerful than any other similarity or synergy to justify the relationship. All you need is love, but it certainly doesn’t hurt if you look good in tight leather outfits.
2) Helen in True Lies (1994)
Mrs. Helen Tasker is a textbook housewife leading a textbook life, but she has the dubious task of having to deal with a significant betrayal by her husband Harry for discovering he has been a secret agent for the entirety of their marriage and, for all intents and purposes, is a completely different man. What makes her a good wife is that she doesn’t leave Harry immediately even though she’d be completely justified in doing so. What makes her a great wife is understanding that she still loves him despite everything and shows it by risking her life to step into Harry’s dangerous world of seductive intrigue to save her family, her husband and the old US of A. Finding someone you want to marry is not particularly easy, but it is frightening how quickly one can succumb to comfort and routine once the union is formed which takes the supposed “love of your life” immediately for granted. Helen proves that to forgive is truly divine, but Harry really was a royal jerk for keeping that kind of secret from her, even if it was for her own protection.
1) Jennifer in Marley & Me (2008)
Any long-lasting relationship needs love and its complimentary emotions to deal with the inevitable stress life throws our way. John Grogan is a decent guy all around, but gets freaked out by his wife’s desire to have children. John uses Marley the puppy as a delaying tactic, but winds up introducing even more stress to their lives. Jennifer is constantly berated with issues like uncertainties with her husband’s job, unsafe neighborhoods, her biological clock and the K9 from hell. She loses her temper frequently, but keeps it together and apologizes for hurtful comments made in the heat of the moment. She genuinely cares for her man with moments like throwing a surprise birthday party as well as giving him his special gift afterwards. She even makes herself and the children available to take a huge risk by moving to a completely new city, just because John wants a crack at reporting for a newspaper as opposed to simply writing columns. This is the kind of woman who desires true partnership and a willingness to be with you through thick and thin. Valentine’s Day is an extra day of appreciation for this kind of person in your life should you be blessed to have one.