I was reading the paper today, and an article really jumped out at me. The writer was talking about the general gist of male roles in recent films, particularly how they aren't men so much as overgrown boys.
I've thought about some recent movies, and I think she's right. When did being self-centered and immature get to be considered cute, attractive and/or desireable in male characters?
Exhibit A -- Failure to Launch. Six pack abs do not make up for the fact the "hero" still lives with Mom and Dad. A friend tried to explain to me that the main male character has committment issues. To which I say, so what? I don't care if a guy like that finally gets the girl or not. Give me Russell Crowe's gladiator, who's so committed to his wife and son, he takes on the Roman empire.
Exhibit B -- You, Me and Dupree. YUCK! was my honest reaction to the trailer, and it hasn't changed since. I mean, who cares what happens to a character like Dupree? What does he do, other than mooch and make his friends' lives a living hell? I'm supposed to be amused? I think not.
Lest you think I'm picking on the guys, women aren't spared, either. How else to explain My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Girl with super powers has a hissy fit. Wowzers! (And no thank you!)
Superman Returns. When he gets back and finds out his ex has a new fella in her life, he's peering in the windows? I enjoyed the movie, but that? Creeped me out, and hellooo...not mature. (And was it just me, or was Superman shot through a soft lense, like an aging Gloria Swanson? Weird!)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: Now, what does it mean that as I tried to think of a mature male character in recent films, Captain Jack Sparrow was the only one who came to mind? He's not exactly oozing machismo, but it's no surprise to me that Kiera Knightley's character finds him more appealing than Orlando Bloom's boy. Man's got a past, ya know?
The Devil Wears Prada: I actually forgot there was a guy in this (except for Stanley Tucci), until I remembered the boyfriend, who's consigned to the sort of role usually reserved for "the girlfriend." More mature than the heroine, but not on the screen much.
Those who come up with these boy-men will say, "We're making comedy here, not Gladiator or Braveheart." To them I say, what about Cary Grant? That guy was no little boy in a man's body, yet I seem to recall he made several fairly decent comedies. And Tom Hanks never struck me as a little boy trapped in a man's body...well, except for Big, and that was the plot, not a characteristic.
I find fewer things less attractive than self-centered self-interest, and I sure don't want to pay money to see such characters, unless they're the villain. To me, this explains why so many so-called "romantic comedies" are box office flops. Give us men, not overgrown, self-centered boys, no matter how cute or handsome or ripped they are! Give me the next Cary Grant!
Hold the phone -- I just thought of somebody who might fit the bill. Hugh Jackman. Whaddya think?