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“Mrs. Doubtfire” and “When Harry Met Sally” Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2020


Allegedly, one can hardly find interpersonal communication concepts in Hollywood films. However, this notion is misguided because of recent literary analysis on most Hollywood films has annulled this assumption. Apparently, the kind of love, romance, and relationships promoted in Hollywood movies are unrealistic due to its flawlessness. In reality, individuals in a relationship go through challenges due to differing opinions, tastes, and preferences.

In addition, such movies oversimplify the impression that love should be attained easily. Research shows that supporters of such films such as Mrs. Doubtfire and When Harry Met Sally mostly fail to communicate efficaciously with their partners. Many people believe the notion that if someone is meant to be your rightful partner, then s/he should know what you need even before telling him/her. The issue here is that while it is clear that the possibility presented by the films of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, film portrayal still affects more individuals than initially believed.

In Mrs. Doubtfire and When Harry Met Sally chef-d’oeuvre movies, one shared construct of interpersonal communication stands out throughout the film, viz. relationship repair and relationship deterioration. This paper expounds on these concepts, their effectiveness, usefulness, and consequences in relationships.

Relationship deterioration in Mrs. Doubtfire film

Relationship deterioration is one of the most visible concepts in Mrs. Doubtfire‘s film. Relationship deterioration is defined as the duration that a relationship experiences a weakening of the ties between the involved parties. This point also signifies the end of the relationship progress. Just after the father decides to throw a birthday celebration for the son without informing the wife, the audience sees that the mother is unhappy with her marriage. She openly tells the husband that they have grown apart, they share nothing, and they are different. In this case, the audience clearly sees the deterioration of a relationship.

The above reference shows that the characters’ marriage is falling apart. In addition, it shows that they appreciate the situation, and thus they can communicate with each other that their relationship is in danger. In addition, this construct is perfectly used in the film hinges on the view that the audience can witness how the fallout affects the characters as a couple. In addition, it highlights how the separation affects the individuals close to the couple, which in this context are the children. The children’s dreams and future prospects are shattered in the face of their parents’ divorce. Their woes are compounded after realizing that their father can only see them rarely.

The common outcomes of this stage of relationships entail partners having to go their separate ways, thus forced to live in isolation with each maintaining the custody of the children. This stage of a relationship as the cutting of the bond or dissolution stage, where couples disengage all things that bind them. Unfortunately, relationships going through turbulent times may escalate to permanent separation. However, the involved parties may decide to mend their ways and reconcile their differences. Nevertheless, rebuilding trust may take years, and it requires individuals to start afresh, which is tedious.

The pros and cons of going back to a broken relationship will pit against each other, and the winning side prevails. If the involved parties decide that reconciliation is worth their efforts, then they go back to the relationship. However, if the relationship is not worth the time and effort, then the involved parties separate permanently. Unsatisfied partner is the bane of many relationships because the affected party becomes noncommittal, which then affects the other party in the same way. Partners in a relationship, too, have to measure the negatives against the positives and choose if they should mend or separate. However, individuals should always remember that functional relationships require the involved parties to invest time and effort, which culminates in sacrifices and compromise.

Relationship rebuilding in When Harry Met Sally

The majority of examples of interpersonal relationship concepts show in When Harry Met Sally is romantic. From the start, both characters do not agree when it comes to how they feel about the relationships between males and females. However, the movie seems to show both of them engaged in a relationship rollercoaster. The first scene depicts the two characters on a road trip to New York from college. This pre-interaction stage does not exist purely by observation since they both fall for each other abruptly. However, one aspect that stands out is that there are no fake questions, which often happen during this period. The protagonists start revealing their feelings the moment they start sharing on male-female relationships in a normal friendship.

Their interaction and communication stop immediately. They reach their destination. However, in reality, their relationship only continues once they are reunited after they both lose their partners. This aspect shows that the two characters, viz. Sally and Harry have entered the intensification stage of their relationship. At this point, their self-discloser becomes personal, and they start depending on their occasional phone calls. However, it is still hard to determine whether they have reached the intimacy stage of their relationship. However, it suffices to conclude that at this point, they have entered the intimacy stage if viewed from the perspective that intimacy can happen without physical contact. Unfortunately, this point marks turning point in their relationship.

The night that the main characters sleep together transforms their relationship tremendously. The relationship develops a distinct transformation that heralds the de-escalation stage of their association. One can state that this experienced change is either reflective or casual, but mostly it relies on the informal aspect. On the following day, they realize that they have started on a dangerous road by making mistakes in their relationship. Their response to this issue is by agreeing that they both feel the same way, but they should pretend that nothing has happened, which is a common response to such scenarios.

In this stage of their relationship, the element of gender disparity sets in, and the audience can feel its role in the scene. Even though words are not used to state the differences, the audience can feel the differences from non-verbal cues. After the tow realize and accept that they have blundered in their relationship, Harry becomes outright in the way he relates with Sally, coupled with being honest towards her.

Given the prevailing environment of presumed openness, Harry decides to state his feelings about sleeping with Sally. On the other side, Sally makes it clear that she feels the same guilt, but her body language and tone pass a different message of commitment and satisfaction in whatever is happening at the time. In the relationship, this aspect signifies her stagnation, since by now, the two are spending less time together. Sally decides to keep the relationship alive.

Progressing through the de-intensification phase, individualism in the movie comes out clearly. For instance, the de-intensification phase comes out clearly when Sally decides to break the traditions and buys a personal Christmas tree. Initially, she used to share such activities with Harry. Once the de-escalation stage is reached in a relationship, it means it cannot be fixed easily. On his part, Harry does not want to be part of the separation, by acting as though he is most hurt. From his perspective, the second formal transformation happens when he intentionally attends the party that Sally is in to express his self-love or love for her friend openly.

Due to this formal transformation that changes their interaction and communication, Sally attempts her level best to create a problem in the situation. From her perspective, assuming that the intention of Harry while proclaiming his love for her is mainly due to the loneliness that accompanies the New Year day. As she tries to walk off and ignore the advances of Harry, he becomes more desperate to fix the relationship by self-professing his inner feelings. As the movie ends, the couple moves back to the relationship progression, thus escalating the stage to intimacy. In an overview, their relationship is a joyride, but like in all such romantic movies, there is always amending of the relationship.


Initially, I thought that all Hollywood films had a happy conclusion of where everyone is felicitous. However, I now realize that this assumption does not apply to all movies. Apparently, the happily-ever-after conclusions in movies cannot always apply in real-life situations. In Mrs. Doubtfire, there is a sequence where an issue arises, there are exhilarating moments, and a result is exhibited. As initially said, the proposed mitigation is not the often-expected happily-ever-after ending, but it helps the family throughout the films. In real life, the scenario of parents sharing custody of the children, but they are not on talking terms with each other, is common in many families. The two films being discussed in this paper highlight a lot of repair and deterioration that children, as well as separating parents go through in normal life.

As explained by the theory of social learning, most people that view these top Hollywood grossing films like When Harry Met Sally are influenced by the perfect soul-mate concept, which is promoted in such movies. The misconception of soul-mate relationships culminates in less development in intimate relationships that may also end up in short and less satisfactory interactions. From a contrary perspective, individuals that often view these Hollywood blockbuster movies like When Harry Met Sally may be forced to follow in progress relationships, which according to family and marriage counselors, is a beneficial and healthy view to support.

On the progress or work-it-out relationships, the above film affirms that fights may often happen in all relationships, but individuals should look for an amicable solution as parting ways is the easiest way out, even though it is an inappropriate option. The interaction and desire of the people to mend a relationship help them to mitigate the issue and overcome it together. The shared concepts of interpersonal communication in the films highlight a realistic depiction of life.

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"Mrs. Doubtfire" and "When Harry Met Sally." IvyPanda, 1 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/mrs-doubtfire-and-when-harry-met-sally/.

1. IvyPanda. "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "When Harry Met Sally." July 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mrs-doubtfire-and-when-harry-met-sally/.


IvyPanda. "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "When Harry Met Sally." July 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mrs-doubtfire-and-when-harry-met-sally/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "When Harry Met Sally." July 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mrs-doubtfire-and-when-harry-met-sally/.


IvyPanda. (2020) '"Mrs. Doubtfire" and "When Harry Met Sally"'. 1 July.

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