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(Click here for the historical "Wars Of The Roses")


The War of the Roses is a Black Comedy from 1989 about an escalating war over marital assets between Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas as the couple of Oliver and Barbara Rose that gets taken to a ridiculous and tragic extreme.

The title is a Shout-Out to the English war between the noble houses Lancaster and York.

Tropes used in The War of the Roses (film) include:
  • Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male: To an extent. Oliver is near equally callous to Barbara, but his acts have far less malice. Barbara however is far more effective and frequently places him through extreme physical torture. Even when he has been pushed to borderline insanity he isn't as successful in landing much physical pain upon her.
  • Berserk Button: See Eat the Dog below. Oliver was petty and childish in his half-hearted comebacks to Barbara, and he even tries to make peace after she nearly (and deliberately) kills him in his sauna, but that event was the turning point that made him every bit as destructive as she was.
    • Not to mention leading him to believe she has cooked his dog and fed it to him, at which point he pretty much goes ape shit.
  • Big Fancy House: Too bad they both want it.
  • Butt Monkey: Oliver, while both spouses commit horrific acts upon each other Barbara is clearly more effective and successful in their Escalating War.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: The film starts out with Gavin smoking a cigarette that he had been keeping in a glass case for several years, vowing to never smoke again if he never smoked that cigarette. As he smokes, he tells a prospective client about why he took the cigarette out of the glass case to smoke it. Another one of his clients was Oliver Rose, who was in a Divorce Assets Conflict with his wife, Barbara. Said conflict turned nasty, including an attempt by Barbara to seduce Gavin. The stress of having Barbara come on to him and yet restraining himself from giving in stressed Gavin out so much that he smashes the glass case to get at the cigarette to smoke it.
  • Closer to Earth: Played around with. It is shown that Oliver's overbearing and inaffectionate treatment of Barbara act as the starting fuse of the couple's bitter separation, by the point the two finally clash however, this has evolved Barbara into a vindictive and unhinged Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Oliver, while still a rather unsympathetic self absorbed Jerkass, maintains some lingering amount of love and sympathy for Barbara even in his dying breath. Barbara, from a very early state, wants nothing more than the guy to just drop dead.
  • Cool Car: Oliver drives a classic convertible. Which Barbara destroys with her own Monster Truck.
  • Destructo-Nookie: Subverted. Part of the climactic fight ends up with Kathleen Turner straddling Michael Douglas, begging him to show her his... "little captain". He does, but it doesn't end well for him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The movie in a nutshell. From both sides.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: The whole point of the story.
  • Eat the Dog: Subverted. After Oliver accidentally runs over her cat, Barbara serves Oliver a pate and heavily implies to him that it's his dog, making him go mad with rage and grief. We see later the dog is alive, but Oliver never finds out.
    • Played horrifically straight in the novel.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: At the end, they both hang *on* it, and then Kathleen Turner reveals that she loosened the screws to drop it on Michael Douglas. Chekhov's chandelier indeed.
  • The Film of the Book: Believe it or not, the movie was based on a novel of the same name. However, the original novel had none of the movie's humor and in fact got kinda creepy toward the end.
  • Footsie Under the Table: Done early in the movie, during a dinner at the Roses' house, by a female guest to Danny De Vito's character.
  • Framing Device: Danny DeVito, playing a divorce lawyer, tells a client the story of the Roses. He convinces his client NOT to divorce his wife. (A non-greedy lawyer? Wow.)
  • I Ate What?: At the end of the book/movie, Barbara Rose makes dinner for Oliver, who compliments her paté. She says, "Don't thank me. Thank Benny." Benny is Oliver's dog.
  • Know When to Fold'Em: The Aesop delivered by Gavin to his client at the end of the movie, after the Rose couple subvert it to high heaven and refuse to let either gain winning ground up to their demise.
  • Murderous Thighs: Barbara Rose grabs her husband in a leg-lock when he's trying to get amorous, squeezing the breath out of him. The next day, the injury causes him to pull a muscle and results in Oliver believing he's having a heart-attack and dying... Which, apparently, inspires him to leave the house to Barbara in his will, which came back to haunt him later on.
  • Oktoberfest: Their housekeeper Susan
  • Only Sane Man: Danny DeVito's character.
  • Pet the Dog: In the end, after they've fallen, chandelier and all, and they both lay dying in the wreckage, Oliver reaches out to his wife to show that he still loves her after all, and dies.
    • Kick the Dog: And Barbara, as her last act, grabs his hand and tosses it away.
  • Rape Is Love: Subverted. In their fight in the house where they are chasing each other around and breaking each other's stuff, Oliver tracks down Barbara and attempts to force himself on her. Immediately, she begins moaning as she did in their first sex scene. However, she only does this to make it easier for herself to perform a Groin Attack
  • This Is My Side
  • Those Two Actors: Douglas and Turner had previously starred in Romancing the Stone and its sequel Jewel of the Nile.
  • Unrequited Love: Dead love example. Oliver still loves Barbara and amist their horrific feud, still wants things to go back. Barbara however wants Oliver out of her life in any way possible.
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