Making the Grades
Have you ever wondered about the private lives of motivational speakers? Do they really have all of life’s answers? Can anyone be that gung ho everyday? Apparently not all of them are.
Caught up in the grind of the speaking circuit, Dr. Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhark) is trying hard to keep up appearances. He is promoting his book on dealing with the death and helping others come to terms with their grief. On stage, he promotes physical health, abstinence from alcohol and facing fear. But in the solitude of his own space, he soothes himself with a stiff shot of vodka and refuses to face his own demons. Three years after the death of this wife—the catalyst for his book—he is anything but A Okay.
His latest gig in Seattle, his wife’s hometown, brings all the horrible memories of their car accident flooding back. Fortunately for the conference attendees who’ve paid big bucks to find relief from their trauma, the Doctor takes his job seriously. His compassion even extends to a gruff father (John Carroll Lynch) who is questioning his own presence at the workshop.
Meanwhile as his agent (Dan Fogler) works hard to turn Burke’s tragedy into a successful business brand, the promotional speaker literally runs into the hotel’s floral supplier. Later, when he tries to introduce himself to Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), she feigns a handicap to brush him off. Yet even after he discovers the deception, he is charmed by the language-savvy florist who has a fetish for scrawling unusual words in odd places around the hotel.
What follows are the usual ups and downs expected in a formula romantic comedy accompanied by several scenes involving crude, sexual innuendo as well as profanities and a rude, sexual hand gesture. Although the script wraps up with a nice, tidy, happy ending, there are some interesting side stories along the way. Firstly, grief is messy and getting through it is different for everyone. Secondly, it is always easier to tell someone else how to fix his or her life than it is to repair your own. Finally, if you’re not careful and honest, there can be a big disconnection between the private and public persona.
Fortunately those life realities make this sentimental romance a little easier to swallow, even if we know exactly what is going to happen.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Love Happens.
Burke takes his clients to the top of a city building to see the scenery. How does our perspective in life impact what we focus on? How can a person change their outlook?
How is grief depicted in this film? How do the various characters deal with their loss? Why is Burke hesitant to work through his own problems?
In what ways does Eloise challenge Burke to change?