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RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes
- Interview with Michael Apted
- Casting Interviews: Love at First Sight?
- Photo Gallery
It’s the Up series but with married couples and happens every five years.
Nine couples and the voice of director Michael Apted.
In 2001, Michael Apted followed nine couples as they prepared for their weddings. The couples represented a cross-section of modern American relationships. Five years later, Apted returned to see how things are going.
Roger was devastated when no one showed up for his painting party.
Betty and Reggie are childhood sweethearts trying to get out of debt before purchasing a house. Nadine and Frank separated for about a year and are giving things another shot. Amber and Scott are workaholics living in the South. Carol and Chuck met in AA and have five failed marriages between them. Toni and Kelly are a lesbian couple raising twins. Brenda and David are raising their baby and David’s son from a previous relationship. Vanessa and Chris are raising their daughter and try to minimize the dangers Chris might face as a police officer. Cheryl and Neal work through the challenges presented by their different religions. Donna and Todd deal with Todd being the more successful of the two, career-wise.
Each of the couples get about 15 minutes of screen time, and in that time, Apted gives us everything we need to see who these people are and what condition their relationships are in. Unsurprisingly, the couples dealing with the most drama are the most interesting to watch. Deaths in the family hastened a divide in Frank and Nadine’s relationship. Add in that it appears as though they don’t really talk to each other, and hope that they can make it work is dim. Donna and Todd returned from their honeymoon to find the aftermath of 9/11 at their doorstep. The two couples with the biggest troubles are Toni and Kelly and Chuck and Carol.
When plastic surgery goes bad.
Toni and Kelly are constantly fighting to be accepted as a couple. Whether it’s trying to gain the same rights as married couples or simply enjoy a peaceful meal. There’s an incident at a restaurant where one diner loudly proclaims his disagreement with their relationship. They brush him off, but a woman from another table stands up and gives Mr. Pixel-face what for. And if things weren’t hard enough for Toni and Kelly, becoming parents proved to be arduous as well. After numerous attempts at artificial insemination, they were finally successful, only to have the twins born ten weeks premature. Luckily, the twins made it through with no complications.
Chuck and Carol had a lot of baggage to deal with going into their nuptials, only to face more after the wedding. Chuck inhaled poisonous gas on a job and was laid up for two years, venting his anger and frustration out on the kids. Carol finally had enough and that was that. The one bright side to Chuck’s injury is his relationship with Carol’s grandson Patrick. While the older kids faced the brunt of Chuck’s anger, he and Patrick bonded over every children’s TV show imaginable. With his relationship with his own kids in shambles, Patrick is a very needed bright spot in Chuck’s life.
The troubles Toni and Kelly and Chuck and Carol face aren’t unusual. Cheryl seeks acceptance from Neal’s mother, who’s had some trouble getting over the fact that Cheryl isn’t Jewish. There’s hope as Cheryl shares a story hinting that Neal’s mom is coming around, however slowly. Frank wants his marriage to work because he misses the kids and can’t stand the thought of someone else raising them, especially Nadine’s daughter from her first marriage, Jordin. Showing these similarities, but not stressing them, is a mark of Apted’s skill.
Of the happy couples, Betty and Reggie are the most captivating. They’re easy-going and have a great rapport with one another. The charisma they exude isn’t surprising. Reggie had ambitions towards stand-up comedy and he’s helping with a community theater group, so performing comes naturally for him. Betty matches him step for step. The scenes with the youth group they lead show them working together and very, very happy.
The combination of personality and drama in Married in America 2 makes for an entertaining two hours. The fact that it leaves you with something to chew on afterwards makes it worth the viewing.
"Gee, Pete. Maybe you should get that growth looked at."
The special features are an example of quality over quantity. First up is an interview with Michael Apted, which runs forty minutes, and is conducted by former LA Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg. Apted speaks about the genesis of the project and the selection of the couples. He shares his thoughts on the couples’ evolution and getting them to open up when maybe they don’t want to, putting them at ease. He also answers the only question I had while watching the film. Why aren’t the couples more diverse, geographically speaking? Why not a couple from the Midwest or Alaska? He only had enough money to search in three places, so he went with the ones with the greatest possibilities.
Also there’s the “Casting Interviews: Love at First Sight?” feature. It’s more of Rosenberg talking with Apted, intercut with footage of the auditions. Apted touches on what he was looking for in the couples and his role in film. Short, but satisfying. Trailers for other Docurama titles fill out the disc.