Episode 12 - Micki & Maude
Micki & Maude (1984)
Micki & Maude is a bedroom farce-style romantic comedy that I was expecting to disappoint me. I'll be honest, I'm not really a big Dudley Moore fan and the idea of a poly movie put out in the last 30 years in America, as opposed to, say, a movie about being torn between 1 suitable lover and 1 unsuitable lover making it appropriate to dump one of them and live monogamously, a poly movie put out in the last 30 years seemed far fetched. But this movie had two major redeeming features that lead me to include it on a list of Poly-ish movies, regardless of how "good" the movie is otherwise.
Rob is a man who loves children and wants nothing more than to raise a huge family. Unfortunately, he is in love with, and married to, a career-driven woman. If the roles were reversed, since the women have the babies, she could just have one and be a stay-at-home mom and he would support her with his money-making but emotionally-distant career, and that would be the end of it. But since it is the husband who wants the kids, even if Micki were willing to be the "workaholic father-figure" and let Rob be the stay-at-home Dad, she would still have to be the one to get pregnant, carry to term, and deliver - all of which threatens her very tenuous position as lawyer-bucking-for-judge. So Rob is just shit out of luck without her cooperation.
Then he meets Maude during a particularly busy time at work for his wife, in which they manage to not have seen each other in roughly 5 weeks in spite of living under the same roof. Maude is a cellist who doesn't work very much. She is spontaneous and creative and free, and she adores Rob. So while Rob is feeling particularly isolated and abandoned in his relationship with his wife, along comes a woman who has the time and ability to make Rob her whole world. He finds himself quickly infatuated and begins an affair.
Many people have found themselves in this position, and have discovered polyamory through this route. I can't say I approve, but the sheer prevelance of this situation makes me feel sympathetic towards the characters - after all, I'm a former cheater myself so I understand the desire to be with both at the expense of their consent and dignity. When a society forces people into a single relationship structure regardless of the nature of the human species or the wants of the individuals, some people are naturally going to find themselves in situations with no optimal choices - such as loving one's spouse enough to want to stay married but feeling alone and vulnerable and available to fall in love with someone new. And with no guidelines or role models to help them find an honest path, many take the more selfish choice because emotions often override logic, or at least twist the logic to protect the emotion.
Often, it is only by experiencing a situation first-hand, which challenges the assumptions we have about relationships, that we ever really *do* any questioning or challenging of assumptions. So it is often that situations like this are what it takes to make people face their assumptions of love, relationships, and fidelity, and, *some* people come through it with a better understanding of who they are and what they want and a desire to be authentic and live honestly, by exploring an alternative relationship like polyamory.
So, back to the story. Remember, this is a bedroom farce, so here's where it gets annoying, if one does not like the absurdity of bedroom farces. So Maude, the mistress, announces that she's pregnant. Rob, who we know wants nothing more than to be a father, is so overcome with happiness, that he decides he will divorce Micki and marry Maude, which he was previously loathe to do since he does still love Micki. But he can't *not* be a husband and father for Maude now that a baby is really on the way, and he can't do *that* while still married to Micki.
So Rob screws up the courage and finally pins Micki down for a date at a nice restaurant, and says he has something to tell her. But before he can get his request for a divorce out, Micki announces that she's pregnant and, although she originally assumed that she would get an abortion because it's poor timing (she is about to be appointed a judge, and her previous miscarriage suggests that she will have to remain bedridden for most of her pregnancy), when she realized that she was actually with child, she started thinking about how much she loved Rob and how much her relationship and their family means to her. So she decided to keep the child and has recommitted herself to the marriage. So what does Rob do now?
In order to understand why I'm including it on the poly-ish movie list, I gonna have to give away the ending, so: Spoiler Alert!
Well, Rob can't break her heart after this revelation, but he already promised Maude that he'd marry her. So Rob decides to "marry" Maude and lie to both women because, y'know, he loves them. Now, I have to admit that I got a little distracted at this part, so I'm not entirely sure how the story justifies how he managed to keep both women from discovering his secret throughout the next 7 months, but he does. We see a handful of scenes over time where the women get suspicious and then Rob comes up with some ludicrous story that they buy, holes and all. And, eventually, the end of the pregnancies come about ...
... on the same day of course.
Both Micki and Maude go into labor on the same day. They have different doctors, but, of course, both doctors are located in the same office complex, and both women go to the same hospital to deliver. There ensues hilarity as charts get mixed up for two Mrs. Salingers - one having a Cesarean and one delivering naturally, one with anesthetic and one without, etc. Eventually the two women learn that there is another Mrs. Salinger in the hospital delivering at the same time and they both want to meet each other. Rob, of course, comes up with even more bizarre tales to try and keep the women apart. Fortunately, Micki is so doped up that she can't even tell that the kitty on her hospital bed is a hallucination.
Totally unrealistically, they get moved into next-door rooms while they're in labor, before they deliver, when one or the other of them requests to be closer to the "other Mrs. Salinger". Which means, of course, that when they get wheeled into the adjoining delivery rooms at exactly the same time, Rob has an entire hallway to walk down between them where he can't hide and he can't prevent them from hearing each other address him familiarly.
So both women go right into their deliveries at the exact moment they find out that they're married to a liar and a cheat. In the ensuing chaos, he gets rejected from both delivery rooms, and the women deliver alone. Afterwards, the women have some time to talk to each other and they reach an agreement. They call Rob into one of their rooms and they tell him, together, that they want a divorce and that he will be forbidden from ever seeing their daughters. Dejected, he leaves.
Next is a series of scenes of Rob trying to sneak into his daughters' lives, like racing from tree to tree to hide and spy while Micki walks her daughter in the park. Eventually, he gets caught, has an emotional scene, and ends up hooking up with both women again because, in spite of the betrayal, everyone really does love each other. Cut to another scene of him lamenting to his best friend in the bar where he once again promises to tell them both the truth. Rob does this frequently throughout the movie because his best friend acts as the Jiminy Cricket of the story. Each time, the friend pushes for honesty and convinces Rob that he has to tell both women what's up.
And here's the second redeeming feature of the movie. We cut to a scene of Micki taking the stand as a judge, then of Maude playing the cello in a huge orchestra hall, and the final scene with Rob sitting on a park bench, surrounded by a pack of children of varying ages, all calling him "Daddy".
The movie doesn't explicitly say whether he continues his lying or if he honestly manages a relationship with both women, or even if he only manages to keep one. But the sheer number of kids calling him "Daddy" implies that he is maintaining SOME KIND of relationship with both, and that scene implies an honest agreement because, otherwise, surely he wouldn't mix the kids up into one big bunch, would he? One way or another it would get back to their respective mothers that some other set of kids was also calling him "Daddy".
I suppose, if one were cynical (as I am wont to be), one could surmise that he simply continued his pattern of sleeping with them both, lying about it, getting caught, getting dumped, and then getting back together to make another baby. But the lack of details in that scene and the aura of happiness of each of the characters gives me enough freedom to think of it as a happy poly ending. Back when the two women have their first babies but before Rob manages to hook up either one of them and he is still estranged from them, the women form a close friendship of their own. Throughout the movie, Rob's best friend had been telling each of the women that Rob loves them both too. So I like to think, and the ending strongly suggests, that Rob ends up with both women, whose careers take off in the directions they always wanted them to go, and he is the happy, stay-at-home dad with the huge family he always dreamed of.
And, regardless of anyone's like or dislike of bedroom farces, that makes this a poly-ish movie.