A pivotal aspect of most films that spans genres from comedies to thriller movies is romantic relationships. But in some cases, rather than making viewers swoon, audiences cringe whenever the supposed romantic couple appears. These six movie couples are no different, and while they're part of excellent movies, the thought of these couples is responsible for cringeworthy moments.
Agree or disagree with my picks? Let me know which couple you think is cringe that I haven’t mentioned in the comments below!
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John and Claire — 'The Breakfast Club' (1985)
Heralded as one of the most classic films from the John Hughes era, “The Breakfast Club” is an undeniably fun teen comedy. The movie explores typical high school stereotypes and how they're inaccurate depictions of who people are, and ultimately brings together unlikely people. One pairing from the movie audiences are meant to root for is John Bender (Judd Nelson) and Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), but after everything the two went through together throughout the film, they don't exactly make a compelling couple.
Right from the start, John antagonizes and harasses Claire, falling into assumptions about who she is based on her appearance. He calls her offensive names and then sexually assaults her. This movie may have been made at a different time, as this type of behavior would certainly not occur in film in the same manner now, but it was still reprehensible. In the end, there's an allusion that the two end up together, which isn't believable at all. The movie tries hard with the opposites attract trope but falls quite short.
Cher and Josh — 'Clueless' (1995)
A pairing that would absolutely never happen in 2023 is a protagonist being related to her love interest. Yes, that's right — in the cult classic film “Clueless,” Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) has a crush on her ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd). The logistics of him still living in the same house as Cher barely makes sense, considering his mom split up from Cher's dad. The writers practically jumped through hoops to make the storyline work, which begs the question as to why they didn't do something completely different with a storyline where the two aren't related.
Sure, Cher and Josh aren't technically related but being stepsiblings is much too close to incest for comfort. It's clear that Silverstone and Rudd have excellent chemistry, but knowing that these two were once family taints every interaction. This is a perfect ’90s movie in every other aspect, but it takes completely overlooking that relationship to enjoy it.
Ben and Alison — 'Knocked Up' (2007)
“Knocked Up” is a quirky movie with a fun premise: What happens when a one-night stand goes wrong? Ben (Seth Rogen) and Alison (Katherine Heigl) are complete opposites, with Ben being a directionless slacker and Alison being very Type A. A one-night stand is the only place this couple makes sense, but when Alison accidentally becomes pregnant, the two are forced together.
The movie tries so hard to make these two a couple, but they're completely unbelievable. They are incompatible and fight constantly. Rather than allowing these two to become friends, they try too hard to bring romance into it. By the end of the film, the illusion is that they lived happily ever after with their baby, which makes no sense at all. There’s no world where these two people somehow learn to live harmoniously simply because they have a baby.
Edward and Bella — The Twilight Saga (2008 to 2012)
While some people may herald Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) as one of the most romantic couples of the aughts, their relationship is actually problematic when you consider their codependent relationship. Throughout the film series, Bella's intense and all-consuming love for Edward is evident and she's willing to make a significant sacrifice for the sake of their relationship by giving up her own human life to become a vampire. Her emotional well-being becomes heavily reliant on Edward's presence, and she struggles to find happiness or purpose when he's not around.
For Edward's part, he exhibits protective and controlling behavior towards Bella by frequently making decisions for her, like dictating her interactions with her friends and family and often overriding her wishes for her safety. This control creates a power imbalance in their relationship, further reinforcing the idea that Bella's happiness and safety are inextricably tied to Edward's decisions and actions. Their highly codependent relationship is misconstrued as passionate, but for those who see it for what it really is, it's nothing but cringey.
Harry and Ginny — Harry Potter Film Series (2001 to 2011)
In the Harry Potter book series, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) as a couple work very well within the storyline. However, translated to the screen, that attraction is woefully missing. A combination of the writing and lack of chemistry between the actors is largely to blame for creating a truly cringeworthy couple.
Admittedly, one of the biggest difficulties here is that these two actors were cast in their roles as children, long before their characters would interact romantically. It's difficult to foresee the chemistry these two actors would have together. Unfortunately, it simply didn't work. Not only that, but the whole movie series did such a disservice to the Ginny character in the books, and that likely played a role in how poorly this couple was portrayed.
Amy and Nick — 'Gone Girl' (2014)
A book-to-film adaptation that was done quite well is “Gone Girl,” starring Rosamund Pike as Amy and Ben Affleck as Nick. Unlike the other couples on this list, the cringe factor of these two characters was intended and extremely well executed. The two have about as toxic a relationship as it gets, with the movie centering on Amy going missing only to discover she plotted to run away and fake her murder because she hated her cheating husband.
As a viewer watching these two together, you know they don't belong together. They bring out the worst in each other, and when Amy finally shows up, despite the couple putting on a front for reporters, you know they're done. But that's not what happens. In an incredibly irksome end, we learn that Amy is pregnant, having deceptively impregnated herself, and the two stay together.