The Earnest Fumbling Manchildren Of Film Make Crappy BoyfriendsHollywood Elsewhere's resident crank Jeffery Wells wondered earlier this week if Michael Cera's career is on the wane, in part because he plays the same role over and over again. While I'm excited to see Cera in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist when it hits theaters Friday, I have to concur that he is playing the same hypersensitive, passive, awkward semi-loser that he portrayed in Superbad, Juno and Arrested Development. And furthermore, this character, whom I'll term the Earnest Fumbling Manchild, is not someone I'd actually want as a boyfriend.Sure, he's cute for the 120 minutes of a movie, but how annoying would it be to make all the decisions while a hoodie-clad yes-man stands sweetly off to your side? Actually, there's a pathetic paucity of boyfriend material in film these days, and it's because the men of romantic comedies are forced into one-dimensional stereotypes just as often as the women are. We're always railing against Hollywood for forcing women to choose from roles that are either hookers, victims, doormats or pixies, but the options for men are similarly limiting. There are three categories of men in romantic comedies. They're either EFMs like Cera, Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill and Zach Braff in Garden State, personality-free perfect cyphers like James Marsden in 27 Dresses, Colin Firth in Bridget Jones's Diary (don't let the fact that it's Firth fool you. This character is not well developed or realistic!) or Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going on 30, or stonery slackers like Seth Rogen in everything or Kal Penn in the Harold and Kumar movies. I tried to think of dudes in romantic films with fully developed, complicated, non-stereotypical characters whom I'd actually want to date/screw in real life, and the list is pretty flimsy:
  • Ryan Reynolds in Definitely, Maybe or Just Friends
  • Ryan Gosling in The Notebook
  • Paul Rudd in Clueless
  • Taye Diggs in The Best Man
  • Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride
  • Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in Y Tu Mama Tambien
  • John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank
I can't even include Cusack in Say Anything, because Lloyd Dobler is borderline EFM. Is there an untapped well of boyfriend material that I'm missing? Where are the Paul Newmans of this modern world? Help a girl out! On The Brink [Hollywood Elsewhere] Earlier: Manic Pixie Dream Girls Are The Scourge Of Modern Cinema Cool Hand Paul: Thinking Woman's Sex Symbol