“War of the Roses” is slightly off target

By Johanna Harris

“The War of the Roses” is a “wonderful black comedy about love, passion, divorce and furniture.” At least that’s what the press release said, and most critics praised the movie too.

The truth is, “The War of the Roses” doesn’t have much to offer the viewer besides a lot of shattered plates, nasty looks and all-out violence.

The story revolves around Oliver and Barbara Rose, a couple whose life together seems like a fairy-tale romance, at least in the beginning. Oliver is a struggling law student and his wife works to support him in all possible ways. They have two children and are very happy together. So far so good.

Awhile later, Oliver becomes a successful lawyer and begins moving up in the world. Although he provides his family with all the material things they could want, he deprives his wife of the caring and respectful relationship she needs. Bad move, Oliver.

Barbara still sticks with her marriage at this point, and manages to find the most perfect and beautiful house to live in. She spends hundreds of weekends fixing up her family’s new abode, until it looks picture perfect. Then, she wonders, what next?

Tired of being the perfect wife to a husband that constantly patronizes and then ignores, Barbara decides she will pursue a life of her own. She starts her own business, which her husband scarcely acknowledges. Another bad move for Oliver.

Then, at one point, Barbara has the chance to realize what life would be without Oliver around.

Scared by the thought that she’d be deliriously happy, Barbara decides she wants a divorce. She doesn’t want any of Oliver’s money, just the house and everything in it. Oliver basically tells her “over my dead body” and finally, the actual “War of the Roses” has begun.

This is where the broken glass, pureed pets and smashed cars come in. The more Barbara wants Oliver out of the house the more he wants to stay. Some of their antics are genuinely funny, but some are also pointless.

After a while, it all gets old, and you may wonder why the Roses don’t just give it a rest and sell the house or something. And the movie’s ending – boy, what a waste.

The whole story is narrated by Gavin, (Danny Devito, who also directed the movie) Oliver’s friend and fellow divorce lawyer. Using the Roses as an example Gavin gets all philosophical about divorce and how cruel human nature can be.

The most disappointing aspect of this movie, though, is that it had such potential to be a great movie, but never quite hit the target it was intended to.