The leading men are either pumped up and dim or paunchy whiners who still live with their parents. Hollywood actors used to have more range. Even in the hippie era there was Robert Redford, who could do romantic comedy then convincingly portray legendary Indian fighter Jeremiah Johnson. Now we have Zach Galifianakis, Jeremiah Johnson’s ugly brother, playing the type of guy who couldn’t fight his way up to the bar at happy hour.
It’s not only that the current crop contains few men who can play badass, heroic types. It’s that they apparently can’t even play strong, ordinary guys who have to deal with bad bosses, joblessness, poverty and other ordinary problems.
A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis recently wrote:
The male archetypes populating contemporary movies don’t line up with reality, yet they offer clues about what the men of our dreams look like, or at least what moviemakers are trying to sell us. What do men want? What does it mean to be a man? How does a man relate to other men? And perhaps above all, how does he relate to women, who increasingly occupy a separate sphere on the big screen…
OK, there are relatively young male stars with gravitas — Ewan McGregor, Jude Law, Matt Damon and a few others.
But look at most of them — Zach, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Steve Carroll, Ryan Gosling, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Kevin James, Shia LaBeouf, on and on — and tell me what there is that’s admirable or even interesting about the new “archetypes.” Do women really want see movies about homely guys who seem apathetic and lame? Or about guys who can’t assert themselves unless they turn into comic book superheroes? Or are such movies aimed only at male audiences?
Clarification: Yes, every generation thinks the next generation sucks, but in this case the evidence is too damning to allow for any other conclusion. Wanna fight about it? I didn’t think so.
For women readers: Who are your favorite male movie actors?