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MOVIES: Male & female, created He them

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) –- In a hundred years or so, even if equality in the job force has long been settled, comprehending the wondrous contrasts between male and female will no doubt continue to bewilder mankind and womankind. The reality is this: The female’s ways will always confound the mind of the man. And for the female, the male of the species will always need repair.

Here are a few films that humorously, and sometimes poignantly, point out the contrasts between those of Venus and Mars, while featuring the importance of what we have in common. Several of these are from decades ago, giving substance to the proposition that we have struggled throughout history with our different idiosyncrasies, and always will.

Still, as has been eloquently stated long ago, when it comes to the differences between men and women, “Vive la difference.”

“Adam’s Rib” (1949)

This literate battle-of-the-sexes comedy with Spencer Tracy as a prosecutor facing off against wife and defense attorney Katharine Hepburn reveals a true affection the stars had for one another in real life. This respect shines through as the leads comically navigate the legalities of the courtroom and the romantic minefields of the living room.

“Tender Mercies” (1983)

Robert Duvall stars as a country singer on the skids whose life is turned around with the help of a religious widow and her son. Tender Mercies is full of positive examples of the Christian lifestyle and the true respect a man and woman can have for one another — one that cements a lasting relationship. PG (A few profanities are heard from the male lead in an opening scene, but a Christian woman has an effect on his life and it is revealed that he becomes a Christian. He stops drinking and swearing and becomes a more contemplative and compassionate person, his old lifestyle defeated).

“Sarah, Plain and Tall” (1986)

A Hallmark Hall of Fame production, it stars Glenn Close as a woman in the 1880s who answers an ad by a Kansas farmer and widower (Christopher Walken) seeking a bride to help raise his two children. Nominated for nine Emmys, this low-key but well-acted production has to do with the discovery of love and respect between a man and a woman.

“My Fair Lady” (1964)

Rex Harrison is pompous phonetics professor Henry Higgins and Audrey Hepburn plays “guttersnipe” Eliza Doolittle in this musical/comedy adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.” The sumptuous winner of eight Oscars, about a simple flower girl transformed into an elegant lady by a male chauvinist, is a smooth fusion of cinema and theater, giving us the best of both artistic venues. It enchants us while the leads have a “loverly” time discovering the magic that can happen between a man and woman, no matter their differences.

“Same Kind of Different As Me” (2017)

Based on a New York Times bestseller and new to DVD, Same Kind of Different As Me concerns a rich art dealer (Greg Kinnear) befriending a dangerous homeless man (Djimon Hounsou), eventually learning spiritual life lessons. Though this true story deals mostly with racism and finding value in others, it touchingly reveals the power of devotion in a marriage. Renée Zellweger plays the wife and brings dimension to what could have simply been a supporting role.

From Pure Flix Entertainment, Same Kind of Different As Me is rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some violence including brutality towards a black youth and the N-word being used four times, clearly defining an evil inflicted on one race of people by another.

Trivia note: Southern Baptist O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, makes a cameo as a minister toward the end of the film — and does a pretty good job.

“Fireproof” (2008)

Fireman Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) and his wife Catherine (Erin Bethea) are on the brink of divorce. Mainly out of respect for his father, Caleb consents to taking a 40-day experiment called “The Love Dare” before the final papers are signed. The altruistic act has a significant impact on the couple.

Although clearly stating you need Christ on the throne of your life and at the center of your marriage, filmmaking brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick (“Facing the Giants,” “Courageous,” “War Room”) never overwhelm the entertainment value with a proselytizing lesson. They keep in mind that they are making a movie and must adhere to the first law of moviemaking. Which is? Entertainment first.

With Fireproof, there are the usual shortcomings associated with any well-meaning religious movie. This awkwardness is seen especially in the opening scenes, where both the actors and introductory dialogue seem clumsy and forced. Thankfully, within minutes, something special happens; we begin to get caught up in the narrative, viewers growing to care about the fate of the lead characters.

Marriage is more than a contract, Fireproof tells us. It’s a covenant. And that word covenant suggests a spiritual, lifelong and consecrated commitment. Here, that theme is driven home, not in an attempt to rebuke those who have already been blinded long enough to forsake their “I Do’s,” but to aid other couples in danger of losing their own marital focus.

Having troubles in your marriage? See this film. Better yet, see it before troubles arise.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright