The Softer Side of Guy Movies
So you’re sitting at home watching TV and you notice that one of your favourite movies is on. Unfortunately, it’s one that you’ve always considered a “guy” flick and you’re pretty sure your girlfriend is in the mood for something with a softer focus. Now, much in the same way that you might sneer at the idea of a chick flick and then find yourself tearing up at Love Actually, she might think “guy movies” are brainless and then end up cheering or laughing right along. The hard part is getting her to agree to a viewing. So just like she had to tell you that “the villain from Die Hard” is in Love Actually, we’ve got a few things you can mention next time you find one of these movies on the dial.
Let’s start with a classic one that’s probably easy to sell based solely on the fact that it’s a multiple Oscar-winner she’s probably seen and loved already. To you, this might be an awesome, beat-em-up story of Mafiosos, sharp suits, a horse head and a lot of blood and violence. If you’re dealing with someone who’s averse to that kind of thing, in fact, this is probably the archetype they reference the most when they talk about the mainstream or critical success of violent films or the media’s portrayal of Italian-Americans.
If you need to frame it differently, it’s an elegant coming-of-age story of a young Michael Corleone, who discovers the value of family, romances a young woman and goes on a soul-searching journey to Italy. Dotted with the angst-ridden evolution of Kay Adams, it’s a sweeping drama with a lot of heart.
You might remember this movie as the story of a tough-as-nails cop up against the “terrorist takeover” of Nakatomi plaza, full of guns and one-on-one fist-fights, catchphrases and the unforgettable bro-ship of John McClane, Carl the Cop and even Argyle the limo driver. From crawling around in the air vents to picking glass out of his bare feet, Bruce Willis’ McClane did everything it took to earn him a place in the pantheon of awesome action heroes. But if you think about it—why did he do it?
Sure, he was a police officer and he knew he had to save the day, but remember that the reason he was there at all was to attempt a romantic reconciliation with his estranged wife, Holly, and see his beloved children again. Yippee-ki-yay, devoted husband and father.
You might think it’s harder with comedies and we’re not going to lie and tell you this one’ll be easy. After all, it’s not the most sensitive of films and we’ve seen a lot of movies more respectful of women and all, but it’s worth a shot. If you need to shill for this one, you’ve gotta look beyond the tigers, the Mike Tyson quotient, the screeching, naked Mr. Chow and child negligence and see what’s really at the core of the Wolf Pack.
See, what The Hangover really is is a clever, noir-inspired mystery that sees three men doggedly hunting for their best friend so that they can bring him back and reunite him with the woman he loves. Throughout, they learn valuable lessons about the care and feeding of animals, loyalty and one of them even falls in love with a sweet-natured single mother. If anything, it’s the feel-good movie of the year.
Taken, a.k.a. Liam Neeson punches out half of Paris, is a revenge epic about a one-man army who has ninety-six hours to rescue his kidnapped daughter before she is sold away into the black depths of the slave trade. Along the way, there’s some brutal torture, a shocking shooting that had theatres gasping and, of course, the amazing ‘I will find you’ speech. This one’s pretty easy, we’ve gotta say: it’s right there.
What could be called an orgy of violence can instead be looked at as a tale of familial bonds and the love of a father for his daughter. Early in the film, Neesons’ Bryan Mills attends his daughter’s birthday and sees his paltry gift outdone when the girl’s new step-father presents her with a pony. Eighty minutes and a trip to Paris later, we all learn the lesson that ponies and material goods aside, what’s really important is having a Dad who loves you enough to go full berserker on a ring of criminals.
40 year Old Virgin
Another movie that doesn’t skimp on toilet-humour or crassness, The 40 Year Old Virgin features Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen in a Judd Apatow joint and so you can expect to get a bit of resistance when you suggest it. Fortunately, you can add that it features a strong female character in Catherine Keener and a powerful romance that forms between her and Steve Carell’s hapless Andy. Together, these two form the love story central to the film and we learn that it’s not what you do or how soon you do it, it’s who you do it with.
And if that fails? Well, you can always mention that in the film’s final minutes, the whole thing just turns into a thrilling, lavish musical number. Really.