Noteworthy Single Mom Character #4
“No, I’m a single, working mother.” – Michelle Pfieffer, One Fine Day.
One Fine Day came out in 1996, right about the same time when George Clooney was first voted “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine. Pair that up with ex-Catwoman Michelle Pfieffer as a successful NYC single mom, and you’ve got a recipe for one of the most enjoyable romantic comedies a single parent could ask for.
Its been over a decade since I’ve watched this film, and though its already humorously dated, I found new appreciation for this single parent romance. There’s the 90’s jokes, the divorce jokes, the giant cell phones, the Calista Flockhart miniskirts, the embarrassingly few minority roles, lesbian references that were still considered inappropriate (even in 1996!). Lets not forget this movie was made during the reign of ER tv, and George Clooney was the husky-voiced, hooded-eye king of the small screen.
One Fine Daystands out in its time as true single mom fantasy. Yeah, she’s an overworked, multi-tasking, unappreciated mom with a slacker co-parent, but she’s also got her proverbial shit together. She’s an architect. She can afford to live in Manhattan on one salary while supporting her son. She’s on the road to a promotion, and her kid goes to the uber-cool Montessori school.
All too many single moms know what the first half of that life is like. But how many of us have achieved financial security and professional success the way Michelle Pfieffer has in this story? How many of us have lived with our parents while attempting to straighten out our lives? For those single moms who relate to Michelle Pfiffer’s economic situation in One Fine Day, I applaud you. Its still a fantasy for me.
So many Single Parent movies are about financial stress (Erin Brockovich, North Country) that focusing on the other elements of single parenting are overshadowed. One Fine Day has the freedom to revolve its story around every minute detail of parenting alone in a 24-hour period. This is the stuff we deal with every single day, but is hardly ever acknowledged.
Michelle Pfieffer is the classic “I can do it myself” character. She tells George Clooney that she’s got so many balls in the air, if she let someone try to catch one, they would all come crashing down. What single mom doesn’t get that? Michelle’s conflict is the very same one that single parents all have to learn: Sometimes its ok to ask for help.
George Clooney also plays a cliche: the charming, well-meaning, but clueless Single Dad who has his daughter every other weekend. He flirts with life without taking responsibility, but loves deeply and thus immediately admires Michelle Pfieffer’s kick-ass, take-charge, single mom attitude.
Thus begins their witty, chemistry-driven, frustrated-yet-so-hot-for-each other dialogue:
“Your Peter Pan complex is so 90s.”
“What Peter Pan complex? “
“The one you’re so proud of. “
“Do you have any friends? “
“I don’t have time for friends.”
“That’s because of your Captain Hook complex.”
I remember my mom laughing hysterically during this scene in 1996. Being 14, I didn’t really get it. I just though George Clooney was dreamy. Now I laugh just as hard, and I still think George Clooney is just as dreamy.
I mean come on! He’s trying to make out with her while she’s in her sweat pants, tomato sauce dripping down her shirt. He picks her up and carries her across a giant puddle while their kids splash around happily in the park. He looks her dead in the eyes and says “I wouldn’t have mentioned kissing you if I didn’t want to.”
Michelle Pfieffer literally runs around half of Manhattan all day long in killer heels. She refuses to be pressured into choosing her job over her child. She resists George Clooney’s charms for almost the entire movie (she deserves a medal for this one). In the end, instead of the hot hook-up, or wedding bells that Romantic Comedies always include, both single parents fall asleep sitting on the couch together while their kids watch The Wizard of Oz in the background.
One Fine Dayis decidedly old fashioned in its 90’s “progressive” romance, and true to single parent life, sometimes you’re just too tired at the end of the day to even think about sex.
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