Family members used to say to me when I was a kid, “If you keep rolling your eyes like that, your eyes are going to roll right out of your head.” And my mother, bless her, would tell me, “Your face is gonna stick like that if you’re not careful,” when I was in awful, sour moods.
Momma, assorted family members: My eyes didn’t roll out of my head and my face didn’t stick like that, and I think P.S. I Love You is the scientific test to see if either of those statements are actually true.
This movie is so bad it has to be given the full, awful treatment. What can I say? The suffering – I’m passing it on. Think of it as paying it forward, just with badness. Strap in, grab your booze, because I’m going through this one every arduous bit.
We start out in medias res (how’s that for a fancy term, eh?) with Holly and Gerry, a married couple living in NYC who are having a huge fight. Holly’s mad that Gerry told her mother that they wanted to wait to have children, which she equates with Gerry telling her that this means she doesn’t want to have children. From this ensues the most manic, nonsensical fight I’ve seen on film in a while. It’s a lot of What Holly Thinks Gerry Says and Gerry just standing there, bewildered and defending himself, while his wife throws shit at him and has a Life Crisis.
This is where I firmly hopped on the “I HATE YOU, P.S. I Love You,” train, for two reasons: One, I loathe this sort of thing, where the woman rants and raves about things that make no sense while the husband has to calm her down, and two, because she pretty much gets away with throwing shit at her husband’s head. If you’re trying to make me like Holly, this isn’t the way. If you reversed their roles, no one would ever think Gerry throwing things at Holly was remotely acceptable, but since she’s a woman and she just threw a Marc Jacobs shoe at him, that’s okay.
Then they kiss and make up and Gerry says, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” – cue me, screaming at my televison, “FOR WHAT? MARRYING A CRAZY BEEYOTCH?” – and they go to sleep, with words of love and giggling. So, I’m already reaching for the whiskey bottle that doesn’t exist.
Also, I have a really hard time buying Gerard Butler as a devoted husband. Gerard Butler always looks to me like the drunk guy at the end of the bar with the cute accent. He’s the guy that you know is a lot of fun, but only in that he’s fun from the hours of 9 p.m. to last call o’clock and that he’s a miserable wretch for the rest of the day. So seeing him as Husband of the Year is kind of weird to me, in the sense that I keep thinking, “Don’t you have somewhere to go to pickle your liver or something?”
We land in the present time, where we’re at a bar. And while we’re at it, let’s cue up the Irish Stereotype Counter right about now.
Oh, yeah – by the way – Gerry’s dead. He died of a brain tumor and they’re having his funeral in a bar.
Funeral in a bar? Check.
The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York playing in the background as Gerry’s favorite song? SIGH.
Jameson’s Irish whiskey? Check.
Drinking to your Irish friend who died of a brain tumor? Stereotype overload.
They should’ve just put his ashes in this:
Seriously, if there’s a Darby O’Gill joke in this movie, I will cut a bitch.
Anyways, so everyone gives their condolences to Holly and she goes home and calls Gerry’s cell phone endlessly to hear his voice and lays in bed and cries. Yeah, I’d feel sorry but … no.
She spends a week holed up in her apartment singing Judy Garland, before her mother and friends have a carefrontation:
Happy 30th Birthday! You’re getting old and your husband’s still dead! Congratulations!
Holly finally consents to letting them clean up her apartment and to, you know, take a shower and all that, but then suddenly something gets delivered.
It comes with a tape recorder that has a message from Gerry: Go out, have fun, and he’ll be sending her letters that will come in all sorts of ways over the next year to help her get over him because he’s “not ready to say goodbye yet”.
Um, creepy? Depressing? No, Holly and her friends all have this collective look of, “Swoon, this is sooo romantic,” while her mom (played by Kathy Bates) looks on in horror and admonishes Holly that this can’t be good for her. Me, personally, I’d like to chime in with, “This premise is stupid. And thoroughly unromantic”.
So she goes to party at a gay bar. Irish people, hey, you’re not the only people being stereotyped in this movie, gay people are gettin’ worked over too. So, you know, every gay guy they encounter is utterly fabulous and/or bitchy and full of cutting remarks and exclamations of “girl, please”.
They go back to her mom’s bar, where Daniel (Harry Connick, Jr. WHY?), one of the bar workers who’s clearly taken a shine to Holly, encounters her in the storage closet and they have a conversation that is full of self-pity for Holly (“Why did God take my husband from me?”) and joking rudeness from Daniel (“You liked the Yankees, it’s a curse”) that’s painful and ends in vomit. Waking up the next morning, hungover and nasty-faced, Holly finds another letter from Gerry that admonishes her to find something she loves, since she hates selling houses, and to find a way to quit because he knows her job makes her miserable. Oh, and to buy a bedside lamp so she’ll stop freaking getting up to turn off the light at night, because he knows how much that irritates her.
So what does she do? Spark a fight with a wife of a client who’s pressuring the client to buy a certain apartment.
In Movie World, we don’t really need to worry about things like rent and food and utility bills, so Holly quitting her job is A-OK while she struggles with what she’s really meant to do in this world. And the letters keep coming.
This time, by leprechaun. SIGH.
Gerry tells her to go do karaoke, which she did previously in their marriage with disastrous results.
Basically, Gerry dared Holly to do karaoke and she fell over while on stage, leading to this humorous injury. Does it surprise anyone that their flashback conversation is full of bitchiness and anger from Holly while Gerry looks on like, “WTF? Seriously, I married you?” No? No? If it were possible to reach through a screen and punch someone…
Holly tells John, Gerry’s business partner, and his wife Sharon, who she’s friends with, how much she hates that conversation she and Gerry had about babies made her feel bad because she was stupid. And then they decide to go do karaoke. Woo!
While they’re waiting for Holly to do her thing, Denise (Lisa Kudrow) and John (James Marsters, who is NOT playing an English vampire here) have a conversation stemming from Denise remarking about some guy’s ass, which is where I crossed into “I REALLY HATE YOU, P.S. I Love You,” territory.
John tells her that men don’t like women who act like men (meaning men can comment on people’s asses and women can’t?), and that’s why Denise isn’t married. Denise responds that after years of ass pinching, she’s allowed to make vulgar comments like that and all the guys SHE loves are just with the wrong women.
Okay, I don’t even know where to start with that, but Denise’s face to John’s comment is pretty much what I looked like:
“THIS IS WHY YOU SUCK, YOU SHRIVELED UP SHREW” countered with, “OH YEAH, FEEL MY FEMINIST RAGE” is just…it’s like this whole movie is, in essence, a cluster of HORRIBLE. Horrible, painful moments strung together in a sequence of awful that culminates in me banging my head against a table.
So, yeah, that’s where I upgraded from “I need a stiff drink” to “make it a double, easy on the ice”.
So then Holly gets up and sings and we’re all supposed to feel really, really proud for her, because there’s nothing like using karaoke as a metaphor for life, yay! Feel it, y’all. She’s brave. (And she finally got to say sorry to her dead husband for being such a roaring witch. Jesus.)
Gerry tells her to keep his favorite jacket, but box up everything else and get rid of it. She can’t do it, by herself so it’s time to ask a favor from the lonesome bar-help who keeps moping around, hoping she’ll pay attention to him.
So she springs it on Daniel while eating corned-beef sandwiches at the Irish Famine Memorial, because “Gerry said it was the best way to honor the dead, by showing them how well we’re living”.
Irish Stereotype Counter: Too exhausted to count.
Number of Irish people who starved to death and are now spinning in their graves for being a cheap joke: 3 million plus.
Daniel, of course, asserts, because he’s pretty much whipped by a lady that pays him no nevermind, but hey! Who cares about him! It’s letter time!
Holly springs it upon her disapproving mother that Gerry paid for a trip to somewhere for her, and her mom points out that this just isn’t healthy and Holly’s going to have to get over the fact that someday, there won’t be anymore letters coming. Holly gets all pissed but that doesn’t stop her from boarding a plane with Sharon and Denise to…what else…IRELAND!
Yes, in Hollywood movies you must have certain cliches about locations. Africa has savannahs, cheetahs and wonky looking trees; England usually has shots of the Thames with some English-y landmark (Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, take your pick) and a Palace Guard of some sort.
Ireland gets green hilly places, quaint houses, some rocks and sheep. Remember, folks, it’s not Ireland unless there’s sheep. According to most of the movies I’ve sat through involving Ireland, there are more sheep than people by about six thousand sheep to every Irish person.
At this point, I think I began to claw my hair and cry, “Why, God, why?” I knew it could only get worse from here on out because we have traveled to the place they’ve been beating me over the head with since the start of the movie. Sharon’s instructed via Dead Husband Express Mail to take Holly and Denise to his favorite pub in wherever they are in Ireland (it’s never really explained) but Holly sees a guy remarkably like her husband: dark haired, tall, vaguely scruffy, a drinker, a guy who sings. So of course, she wants to sleep with him – yet no one’s like, “Hey, aren’t you kind of wanting to sleep with your husband’s doppelganger?” NO, this is romantic! Romance, guys, romance!
Let’s just take a few moments to appreciate the rawr-ness of one Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
And we’re back.
She hits on him; he goes back on stage to play “Galway Girl” (my head hurts) and dedicates it to her and Holly goes into a panic, because that was the song Gerry played to her when they first met! In Ireland! When he was still alive and not all dead as a doornail! Cue sad fiddle music and the emotional conversation with the girlfriends about why Gerry is doing this.
So, then they go fishing the next day because, of course, Gerry wanted her to, and they have the predictable kooky mishap: they lose their oars and instead of any of them, you know, diving in to go get them, they just sit there like fools waiting on someone to rescue them. And who finally comes to rescue them?
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, yay! Dead husband lite!
Sharon and Denise have also told Holly their happy news: Denise, who met Nice Ass Guy at the karaoke bar and who kissed her after saying, “I’ve been with all the wrong women”, is getting married and Sharon is pregnant! But Holly’s all upset because everyone’s happy and she can’t wallow in Dead Husband misery. My eyeballs are bleeding, I swear.
Meanwhile, back at the cottage, the girls have expressed their appreciation for Jeffrey Dean Morgan saving them from being complete DUMBASSES by making him dinner and then leaving Holly to seduce him. Which, arguably, can’t end well, of course, considering she bumbles her way through it, tells him her husband’s dead and she hasn’t had sex in forever, nearly drops the Jameson’s on him (yes, that makes another appearance here, you can’t have Jack Daniels in IRELAND, hello) and somehow, JDM still springs for it. What the hell.
See, it turns out Gerry and JDM WERE BEST FRIENDS. So after Holly’s all horrified and JDM calms her down, he tells her stories about him and Gerry back in the day.
IS THIS MOVIE OVER? I WANT TO GET OFF, I WANT TO GET OFF THIS RIDE, BECAUSE IT HURTS AND IT MAKES MY STOMACH SICK.
Holly, being in the neighborhood and all, decides to go see Gerry’s parents who have another letter.
Gerry takes her back when they first met, when she was an art student traveling through Ireland (see: hideous clothes, that explains it all) and he was just a lonesome Irishman, walking up the road, giving her directions. How cute. (Vomit.) He tells her that he’s not afraid of her forgetting him, just herself. Does Holly even want to remember herself? If I acted like her, surely not, no! I’d be running from myself at every turn in the road. We get a long flashback of their first meeting and their first kiss that’s just so grosstastic (“I want that to be the most perfect first kiss ever”) that there’s no way to make it right.
Yay, back in New York!
Holly goes home and ignores everyone, leading her friends to hate her, cut her out of weddings, and her to mope around, presumably because she can’t do naughty things to Jeffrey Dean Morgan anymore (hey, I’d be torn up about that something wicked, myself) and because everyone’s moved on except for her. But hey! She finally decides what she’s going to do with her life! SHOE ART, Y’ALL.
And makes up with her friends!
But manages to piss off Daniel by calling him Gerry, which leads him to tell her that he wishes he could be someone’s Gerry and that he can never be with her, because she’ll always be waiting for another letter.
YOU KNOW, IT’S ABOUT TIME, DANIEL. And everyone else in this movie. Because Holly is just a self-absorbed, shallow jerk that it’s unbelievable that anyone can spend five minutes around her. Ick.
So Holly runs to Mommy, who takes her on a long walk after Holly cries that “I’LL ALWAYS BE ALONE, MOM, ALWAYS” and her mom is all like, “YEAH I KNOW, BECAUSE YOUR DAD UP AND LEFT ME AND I’M TOTALLY ALONE” and they have a walk that constitutes of “Let’s feel alone together! Whee!”
And surprise, Mom has the very last letter for Holly, and tells her, “There’s no more coming after this, you have to let go”.
Gerry: “Dude, time to move on. Go find another husband and quit moping.”
Holly: “Hmm. Who’s available who shows the slightest interest in me?”
Holly and Daniel make with the kissing, which leads to:
Daniel: “EWWW YOU’RE LIKE MY SISTER AND I JUST FIGURED THIS OUT.”
Holly: “OMG, kissing Dead Husband WAS SO MUCH BETTER. I’m so glad we can be friends and I can wallow freely!”
Holly and Daniel: “YAY!”
Then we get a nice montage of how everything works out for Sharon and Denise and yada, yada, Holly’s stupid Shoe Art business goes smashingly and we’re back to IRELAND AGAIN.
Aren’t we done with this? Didn’t we bash this into my head enough? NOOOO, because Holly wants to take Mom to Ireland now that Holly’s a Shoe Art success!
There’s sheep in there somewhere.
Of course, they run into Jeffrey Dean Morgan! And because we can’t polish off a romantic comedy without a love interest for bitter, angry Mom, there’s one for her too – Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s DAD.
His name is Patsy. Face, meet desk, repeatedly.
The end sets it up to where JDM and Holly will have a nice life in Ireland together along with Mom and Patsy, which doesn’t creep me out at all, if you really give it a second’s thought.
THANK GOD, IT ENDED, even if they couldn’t resist squeezing one last cliche – Flogging Molly – over the credits. If I Ever Leave This World Alive, indeed.
To be kind, stabbing myself in the neck with a knitting needle would’ve been more fun than this movie. It takes a serious subject and tries to apply the serious treatment to it while covering it with a heaping dose of romantic comedy sensibility and serendipity, which is just cringe-inducing.
This film should be taught in film schools as what not to do. Gerard Butler, you are dead to me. Swank, GIVE BACK YOUR OSCARS, you fool. This is the kind of film that is embarrassing to everyone involved in it, and someone should draft an apology to the entire nation of Ireland: “Ireland, we’re sorry. Love, Hollywood”. It’s practically an insult to an entire country, let alone the person watching the film.
Romantic comedies/romantic movies are often geared toward women, with the intention, I believe, of allowing the filmgoer to insert themselves in the main character’s shoes. If that’s the moviegoer this movie’s skewed towards, then I worry deeply about the state of the world in general. What little faith in humanity I had is gone. If we’re banking on women getting together and crying in a theater over Holly’s pain and wishing they could fall in love with some Irishman on the side of the road in Wherever, Ireland who’s got the patience of a goddamn saint, then it is a piss-poor comment on what people will find worth $10 in this day and age.
Am I supposed to find this movie romantic? Uplifting? Heart-rending? Sentimental? If that was the intention, then consider me insulted: the women in this film are one-note harpies; the men, boringly placating and interchangeable. Life is grand and able to be put on hold at a moment’s notice because someone is having A Very Major Crisis and this huge journey Holly takes isn’t huge at all. It’s what the rest of us already know: Get over it. Life goes on. You can’t spend your entire life regretting what’s gone. SUCK IT UP, LADY.
Except the rest of us don’t live in Movie Life, so everything’s not quite so charming.
I believe that in a roundabout sense, you get what’s coming to you, so in theory, for having suffered through this disgusting mess of…film? can it be called that?, I’m owed something along the lines of the following:
- Eleventy billion dollars;
- Hilary Swank’s head on a stick;
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan (rawr);
- In lieu of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a hot Irish boyfriend;
- a case of Jameson’s, with a note: “Dear Caitlin: we’re sorry. Love, Everyone Involved With P.S. I Love You.”
When I get my just comeuppance, I’ll be sure to let you know.