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The Little Indie That Could – and the Hollywood Version That Couldn’t

Recently I saw the movie, The Five-Year Engagement. I know, I should have known better. It was pretty funny at times, but honestly, with all the talent and creativity on offer, does Hollywood really have to produce the exact same ending every single time?

I hadn’t read anything about the movie before I went, so I was surprised to discover that my very own field of social psychology had a role. Emily Blunt, playing Violet, heads to the University of Michigan to join a lab group that apparently designs experiments by generating totally silly ideas that have no relationship whatsoever to psychological theory or anything else. All a big game. Also, there is no script for the experiment. The professor and the various students mill around behind the one-way mirror taunting one another about who is going to go into the room with the participants and actually run the study.

I cringed all the way through those scenes.

The University of Michigan really does have a terrific program in social psychology, but you won’t see it in this movie.

I thought about blogging about my disappointment with the embarrassing depiction of social psychology and the surfeit of romcom clichés, but thought better of it. That was until I got a personal email about a new indie movie, AshBash: A Love Story.

Here’s the synopsis:

“Why aren’t you married?” The question stalked Ashley for years.

Amusing, unflinchingly honest, and deeply profound, this ultimately inspiring documentary follows one woman’s journey of self-exploration from full-on panic over being single to her epiphany that she does not have to get married; that her single life and all the many relationships in it are worth celebrating – in style.

Ashley hosts the legendary “AshBash,” inviting 200 guests to the wedding reception she never had. Ashley toasts herself (“I know, I know – there’s only a 50% chance this is going to work out”), lives out her dream of playing piano with a live band, and experiences her “first dance” – a hip-hop number she performs with her sister.

Standing the traditional happy ending on its head, the film salutes the power of possibility, connection, and joy.

So far, all I know about the movie is what I learned from the above summary, the trailer and the email. That’s enough to know that there is far more originality in this movie than in Hollywood’s Five-Year Engagement, which probably cost about a zillion dollars to produce.

As Heidi Sullivan, the director of AshBash, told me, the movie is about her friend Ashley’s decision to celebrate her single-by-choice life and her relationships with all of the people who are important to her, and not just one All Purpose Partner.

I’ll toast to that!

Heidi Sullivan also said:

“We just had our world premiere at the AMC Loews Boston Common as part of the Boston International Film Festival – the audience reaction surpassed our wildest dreams – sold-out theatre, spontaneous applause, and a standing ovation!”

Here’s hoping I get to see the whole thing sometime.

Champagne photo available from Shutterstock.

The Little Indie That Could – and the Hollywood Version That Couldn’t

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2012). The Little Indie That Could – and the Hollywood Version That Couldn’t. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 May 2012
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