Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dick Flick Comes of Age

Paul Rudd, the leading male ingénue of the new (or, rather, rehabilitated) genre, The Bromance
I love you, man.

I'm talking about my unguarded affection for that blossoming genre, The Bromance - formerly, The Dick Flick. While The Chick Flick has become stuck in a rut, living up (or down?) to its dubious rep as foolish female entertainment, The Dick Flick (its male counterpart) has evolved, outgrowing its original moniker. It's no longer The Dick Flick.

New and improved - and ever improving - it is now The Bromance. I've no idea if this is what auteur Judd Apatow had in mind when he came up with this seemingly cockeyed idea, but he's owed a deep bow of gratitude. There are precious few pleasurable reasons to go to the movies these days and the recurring Bromance flick is one of them. Actually, the trend started with Adam McKay's hilarious "Anchorman - The Legend of Ron Burgundy" in 2004, starring McKay's male muse, indespensible Will Ferrell.

I've a hunch that the success of "Anchorman" was Apatow's inspiration, leading directly to his own modern classic, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" in 2005, and continuing with a constant dribble of male-oriented comedies either directed, produced, written, inspired or sheparded by Apatow.

To reiterate, I love you, man.

I've loved them all, although my favorites, in addition to "Virgin" and "Anchorman," remain David Dobkins' "The Wedding Crashers," David Wain's "Role Models," Dennis Dugan's "Don't Mess with the Zohan" and McKay's epic, "Talladega Nights - The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." The ragtag (and growing) list includes two titles in which Apatow literally liberated the penis, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"; "Superbad"; "Stepbrothers"; "Knocked Up"; "Pineapple Express," and Luke and Andrew Wilson's little-seen "The Wendell Baker Story."

While either Ferrell, Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson have anchored these titles, the inarugable step-out star of them has been affable Paul Rudd, a talented performer who always seemed too slight to be either a leading man or a dramatic actor (although he is clearly capable of being both). He's just this shy of being "the new Jack Lemmon."

But, let's face it, no one writes Jack Lemmon roles anymore.

After passing time in a series of pleasant roles in pleasant films ("Clueless," "The Object of Affection," a TV version of "The Great Gatsby," in which he played Nick Carraway), Rudd suddenly started to come into his own in titles such as "Anchorman," "The 40-Yeaer-Old Virgin," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and most especially in "Role Models" and John Hamburg's current "I Love You, Man," both deliriously funny and surprisingly astute in their observations of men.

Rudd has yet to co-star with his ideal leading lady, Zooey Deschanel, but he does have great chemistry with the delectable Rashida Jones (above) in "I Love You, Man." He was made to be one half of a screen team.

Someone, anyone, please pair this guy up with Deschanel or Jones again.

BTW, Jones, an alumnus of "The Office," is the daughter of Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones. (That's Rashida, left, with her mom Peggy.)

Meanwhile, The Chick Flick continues to degenerate. Thanks to the "Sex and the City" influence (or curse?), your typical "woman's film" is now preoccupied with expensive shoes, gargantuan weddings and questionable values. The genre reached its nadir with the remake of "The Women" and the god-awful "Bride Wars."

In what has become a disturbing new trend, Hollywood now likes to think of - and portray - women as happy idiots, and the grown women who are patronizing these movies, and who should know better, somehow seem ...

flattered.

7 comments:

jkaiser said...

Loved Jones on "the office", she will popping back up on TV in "Parks and Recreation" with Amy Poehler.

jkaiser said...

Loved Jones on "the office", she will popping back up on TV in "Parks and Recreation" with Amy Poehler.

jkaiser said...

it was so nice, i said twice?

Sylko said...

I am a woman and I don't understand the appeal of most "chick flicks." They are brainless; they are misogynistic. I care for more than shopping, shoes, weddings. In fact, I hate shopping, I own three pairs of shoes--each of which is completely functional--and I spent a minimal amount of money on my own wedding. For me, it was a Jennifer Aniston move, Picture Perfect, that killed the genre for me.

I have a tendency to watch the older romantic comedies rather than the modern. Women were smart in the 1930's movies (Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard--who could play a smart dumb blonde), and in the 1950's they got dumb (I can't stand most Doris Day movies because she seems to be portrayed as a ditz that needs the man to save her), and nowadays, the women are brainless paper dolls.

I don't even know if the movies I like rate as a "chick flick"
Libled Lady
The Women (the original--though I hate the opening credits which are very sexist)
Philadelphia Story
His Girl Friday
The Apartment
Anything with Tracy and Hepburn (even their lesser works)

For modern movies, I don't watch that many anymore (partly because I have small children, so I can only watch movies on television).

I loved Brokeback Mountain, is that a chick flick?

joe baltake said...

Sylko-

I agree wholeheartedly with what you had to say about the continually degenerating Chick Flick genre, dear loyal reader from Sacramento but - Wait! You gave Doris Day a bad, bad rap based on flawed assumptions which, in turn, seem to be based on years of misinformation about her put out by Day haters who are, well, largely ignorant.

I urge you - urge you - to check out her seminal feminist performances in "The Pajama Game," "Teacher's Pet," "It Happened to Jane," "Pillow Talk," "Lover Come Back," "The Ballad of Josie," "Please Don't Eat the Dasies," "The Tunnel of Love," "Young at Heart" and "Love Me or Leave Me."

She was no pushover or helpless woman. More often than not, she stood head to toe with men, confronting and challenging them - and often surmounting them via pluck and braininess.

The critic Molly Haskell was spot-on when she claimed that Doris was/is "Hollywood's most misunderstood commodity."

Check out her films again, Slyko - and let me know what you think.

Sylko said...

I have to admit, I've only seen a few of her films. I'll put her on my TIVO watch list and check her out again.

joe baltake said...

Bt all, means, Sylko, check out "The Pajama Game," "Teacher's Pet," "It Happened to Jane," Back," "Please Don't Eat the Dasies" and "Love Me or Leave Me" in particular. Apolgies if I came on too strong in my defense of Day but, I've been doing it for years - decades - now and have grown a tad intolerant of criticism leveled at her.