38 Thoughts I Had While Watching ‘Purple Hearts’ on Netflix

Before I start this recap, I should just get it out of the way that I am not a film critic. I’m not even a film writer with a particular gift for criticism. I fell asleep watching Citizen Kane; my favorite movie is Miss Congeniality, for God’s sake. I would never knowingly judge another human being by their film taste—but defenders of the Netflix rom-com Purple Hearts, well…they’re a different story.

The premise of Purple Hearts is simple: An aspiring musician agrees to fake-marry a troubled Marine for military benefits. But—and I don’t say this lightly—the execution is jaw-droppingly terrible, even for a movie that very openly tries to wring romance out of the absolute shandeh that is the present-day U.S. health care system. Anyhow, let’s dive in!

  1. We’re at Camp Pendleton, and baby, we are about to romanticize the hell out of the military-industrial complex.
  2. Sorry to bring up U.S. Army negligence immediately, but…come on.
  3. A young Megan Fox-type ingenue named Cassie is doing a truly painful bar rendition of “Sweet Caroline” that I imagine I’ll look back on fondly as this movie throws new hurdles my way.
  4. Okay, so Cassie and her friends wait tables at the bar but play music when it’s dead? That’s actually kind of fun.
  5. “I can’t with this” is an entire spoken line in this movie.
  6. Some Marines show up at the bar and act like dicks, but one of them—Luke—comes over to apologize.
  7. Luke makes fun of Cassie for daring to…have opinions without actually being a soldier?
  8. Did a computer write this movie?
  9. Hey, there’s a queer person in this thing, so I guess it’s fine. (Irony!)
  10. While we’re here and watching Cassie try to either ration her insulin or pay for it out-of-pocket to stay alive, please consider donating to a mutual aid fund.
  11. Luke is clean now, but still owes $15K from his drug era.
  12. Cassie is wearing a “The Future Is Female” shirt, and I am having a nervous breakdown about it.
  13. Cassie’s friend is heading back to base camp, and she asks him to marry her for the military benefits, but he’s not down.
  14. LMAO, Luke is extremely upset that Cassie would go so far as to defraud the U.S. government. What a cool, hot renegade!
  15. Lot of shots of Luke running contemplatively.
  16. Don’t worry, everyone, Luke has a sister-in-law and nephew to humanize him.
  17. Luke is still in hock to the least threatening-looking drug dealer of all time, so he decides to marry Cassie to get extra money from the military to pay him off. Is that, uh, how military benefits work?
  18. Oh, they’re planning a whole fake romance.
  19. I want to die.
  20. “Marriage should be for love. And where I come from, it’s for life.” Gag me with a spoon.
  21. Luke hits Cassie with the classic burn: “What does your tattoo say? Socialism now?”
  22. Things get, uh, extremely racist when one of the soldiers cheers to “hunting down some goddamn Arabs.”
  23. Pronoun joke! Everybody drink!
  24. Oh boy, a whole discussion about the liberation of Iraqi women.
  25. You see, Luke’s whole family was in the Army, and Cassie’s entire personality is wanting to be a singer, and now that they know this about each other, romance can happen.
  26. At least Cassie is getting health care, I guess?
  27. Cassie writes a brand-new song for Luke and the other Marines, and just like that, war is over (if you want it).
  28. JK, war is not over.
  29. Cassie performs at a real concert!
  30. This entire sequence of the Marines patrolling an unfamiliar area to the strains of Cassie’s band is making me feel like I’m on mushrooms. (Or, at least, cough medicine.)
  31. Luke gets wounded in combat, and Cassie’s friend Frankie dies 🙁
  32. Oh yeah, a major part of this plot I forgot is that Luke’s dad is Military Police and will turn them in if he finds out they’re fake-married.
  33. Cassie and Luke move in together while he does supervised PT.
  34. If I were Cassie, I would have fled by now, but go off.
  35. The druglord tries to blackmail Luke about being fake-married, and Cassie is rightly furious that he didn’t tell her he was a wanted man.
  36. Just as Cassie is about to play the Hollywood Bowl (???), Luke is charged with fraud re: their marriage.
  37. Luke takes full responsibility and gets discharged, and, as it turns out, he and Cassie are actually in love. 
  38. I have never seen a longer or more convincing advertisement for universal health care than this movie.

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