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The Ex Factor: The Guys/Girls That Got Away

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Oct 01, 2011 | 6:22am EDT

Romantic Comedies are a staple in the entertainment industry. Throughout film history we’ve seen couples meet, fall in love, and overcome all obstacles so they can finally live happily ever after. But how do their exes factor into that equation? A lot of times, characters end up leaving the person they were originally with, in order to be with their “true love,” but what about the ones they left behind --- The ones that got away?  

In the movie What’s Your Number?, Anna Faris revisits her past relationships to see if there’s someone special that she overlooked the first time around. I suggest that we follow her example and take a look back at various characters former flames to determine if they deserve a second look. Were they wrongfully dumped or did they deserve what was coming to them? Let’s take a journey to the Ghosts of Relationships Past and find out!

The Notebook – Lon Hammond

the notebook

Some exes had to be dumped whether they were good or bad. Of course everyone was routing for Noah and Allie to get together in this Nicholas Sparks book-turned-movie. They were the main characters and clearly had a special connection that withstood the test of time. But we genuinely felt sorry for James Marsden’s character, Lon Hammond, when Allie kicked him to the curb. He was rich, devilishly handsome, and was an all-around decent guy that didn’t deserve to be heartbroken. There was just no way that his character could be justified enough to get the girl though. He would be an outstanding alternative if Noah was no longer in the picture, but as soon as he kissed her out in the rain it was a done deal. The audience would’ve felt cheated out of an epic love story if she had chosen to remain with Lon.

He may have been a nice guy, but let’s face it – he’s no Ryan Gosling.

Sweet Home Alabama – Andrew Hennings

sweet home alabama

We’ve got a very similar situation going on in this movie as well. Girl falls for high school sweetheart, complications drive them apart, girl finds new dreamy boyfriend, but ends up still loving home town hottie. Melanie found a great guy in Patrick Dempsey’s character, Andrew Hennings. He too was rich, good looking, and a very kind hearted man. It always helps when the stand-in boyfriend has a few significant flaws since it makes them easier to root against, but his character is perfect husband material. But once again, even though he looks great on paper, he can’t compare to a couple with so much history and who have known each other practically their whole lives. It’s definitely unfair and Andrew ends up getting majorly screwed over in front of all of his family and friends when Melanie rejects him at the altar (ouch), but you don’t base who you love off of whose resume looks more impressive. You base it off of who already won over your heart. So even though we liked Andrew and his sweet demeanor, we couldn’t help but fall for Jake and Melanie’s country charms.

Made of Honor – Colin

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Now this was clearly after Patrick Dempsey transitioned into Grey’s Anatomy’s McDreamy and became a full-on hunk, because now his character is the one that gets the girl. Everyone knew his character, Tom, wanted to be with Hannah even after the first time they met in college, but he was still too immature to understand what was right in front of him. It was only when she was about ready to marry Colin that he came to his senses and realized that he was in love with her. Now Colin’s not really as lovable as the other exes that I’ve mentioned so far, so I really didn’t have a hard time seeing him get dumped. I mean, he had the whole Duke thing going for him, but that was pretty much it. He didn’t even really know her that well and I didn’t see much chemistry between them. And when he wouldn’t let Hannah eat cake off of his plate during their wedding rehearsal dinner, I knew without hesitation that I’d had enough of him. Plus those bagpipes were super annoying. McDreamy deserved the girl, hands down.

This movie is a great example that love is not only timeless, but ageless as well. The older generations can have love lives just as complicated as the rest of us, so no one could blame Meryl Streep’s character for feeling unsure of who to choose: Adam (Steve Martin) or Jake (Alec Baldwin). Talk about Sophie’s Choice! These guys are equally lovable in real life, but what inevitably makes you route for Martin’s character in the end is the fact that Baldwin’s character cheated on Jane during their marriage. He was married to Jane (Streep) for 20 years, but then decided to leave her for a younger model. While he ended up realizing that it was a mistake and that he still loved his ex-wife, it’s too little too late I’m afraid. He needed to be taught to accept the consequences of his actions, which made Adam an easy pick. Plus, any decision that Meryl makes is never the wrong one!

The Wedding Singer – Glenn Gulia

the wedding singer

In this case, the decision was easy and unanimous (hopefully) as to which guy you wanted to end up getting the girl. Glenn was a jerk and constantly cheated on Julia all the time. He didn’t really want to marry her for love, he just wanted someone to cook him dinner and clean up after him. It was totally justifiable for Julia to pick Robbie over him. Besides, she didn’t want to be stuck with the name Julia Gulia the rest of her life. And while financially Glenn could have provided for her more with materialistic possessions (Robbie did get paid in meatballs remember), Robbie more than makes up for his lack of income with his great personality, adorable dimples, and lovable singing voice. Plus any Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore combo is always two thumbs up in my book.

Spiderman – Harry Osborn

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Even Hollywood’s hottest hunks don’t hold a candle to superhero charms. Sure Harry was easy on the eyes, but can anyone really blame Mary Jane for choosing New York City’s friendliest neighbor? I mean, he’s a vigilante who protects the city from countless criminals and murderers – that’s hot (even if he is wearing tights). I could also use the fact that Harry’s father is the Green Goblin and tries to kill her as reasons why she was right in choosing Peter Parker, but she had pretty much already made her decision before any of that happened. And while I admit Peter is somewhat of a dork, he’s a lovable one that deserves to have one thing go right in his life. It complicates matters since Harry is Peter’s best friend and there’s that whole “bros over hoes” rule, but Harry used him throughout the years for homework purposes and eventually tried to kill him. So I’d say they’re about even.

Just Go With It – Palmer

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So far it’s been all about the woman having to decide between two men, so let’s switch things up and have the guy be the one in the hot seat. In this cute rom-com, Adam Sandler’s character, Danny, falls head over heels for Brooklyn Decker’s character, Palmer, an absolutely gorgeous woman. But in his attempt to win her heart, he ends up falling for his assistant, Katherine (played by Jennifer Aniston). Talk about a tough decision. Palmer doesn’t really do anything wrong except make all women want to jump on a tread mill and never get off. She’s sweet, gorgeous, wants to settle down, and genuinely seems to like Danny. But she’s almost too perfect, which makes us want to root for Katherine, who is also uncomfortably good looking, but not to as extensive a degree (I’m sure some of you will disagree with me on that one). She’s also closer to his age and they undeniable click together so well. Plus your heart immediately warms to her due to the fact that she’s willing to help him out to such a massive extent. Not to mention that Jen’s already had her heart broken too much in real life, so let’s just give her this one.

American Pie – Nadia

american pie

For a little blast from the past, let’s take a look at this classic, feel-good film. Here we’ve got Jim, desperate for some female attention, who ends up having to choose between a flute playing nerd from band camp and a gorgeous European exchange student. Two very different girls, but both of them like the infamous pie boy. You’d think that this would be a no brainer decision, but Jim opts for the band geek, who he ends up really caring for. While I’m not naïve enough to expect this to actually happen in real life scenarios, I think it’s cute that Jim’s character is so pure and chooses to listen to his heart and not his…well, something else.

My Best Friend’s Wedding – Julianne Potter

my best friend's wedding

I saved this one for last because I find it to be a very rare and unique movie. Normally, you would assume that Julia Roberts' character, Julianne, would be the one to win over the guy in the end. She’s the star of the show and usually the past lovers end up together, but the movie takes it in another direction by having Michael stay with his fiancée, Kimberly. I remember feeling very upset when this happened because I was so used to rooting for the underdog couple to overcome all the odds and be together. And to be honest…I still feel that way in this movie. The girl that he falls for is way too perky (to an annoying degree) and he so clearly still has feelings for Julianne throughout the entire duration of the movie (like when he thought she was engaged to George), so I have a hard time buying that he would reject her in the end. Sure, it took her a long time to realize her true feelings and overcome her commitment issues, but better late than never, right? Sometimes you need to lose something first in order to appreciate it. But my own personal feelings aside, I have to give the film kudos for not just giving in to what the audiences may have wanted. It went against the norm and for that I have to respect it.

So now that we’ve weighed in on all the exes, I think we can safely say that for the most part, the characters inevitably ended up making the right decision. Some of them may have seemed a little predictable, but part of us can’t help enjoying that “happily ever after” mindset. While some exes were wrongfully hurt, others deserved the hand they were dealt. And as I’m sure Anna Faris’ character is going to find out in What’s Your Number? – some relationships are just better left in the past.

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