Archive for February, 2011

How I learnt to love the western

If you want to see a picture of me in a Stetson and chaps – or if you want to read about how few women there are in Westerns – buy The Times today or go to http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/film/article2902553.ece I know there’s a paywall but it’s cheap as chips and I promise the photos of me trying to look like Clint Eastwood are worth it… 


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We’ve all seen it: unremarkable men – unsightly even – walking hand-in-hand with women so beautiful they could launch more ships than Helen of Troy. Usually, of course, the ordinary fellow who manages to bag himself a hotter bit of totty than his peers has something extraordinary to offer: money, power or, occasionally, just a cracking sense of humour.

But there has been a rather odd development of late, in the way this hot girl/plain man dynamic is dealt with in film. Hollywood has taken to pairing up models with Average Joes who have nothing to offerOr not enough to make their relationship credible, anyway. Take Knocked Up, The Holiday or Couples Retreat. OK, so Seth Rogen’s character is, well, quite nice. But seriously, Katherine Heigl could go out with anyone. In Grey’s Anatomy she plays a model who is also a doctor, for God’s sake. And Kate Winslet and Jack Black? Not only is she at least a foot taller than him, but her last beau was Rufus Sewell . RUFUS SEWELL, people.

When did it become normal for sub-part blokes to get super-hot girls? Call me fattist or lookist if you want to, but I’m not sure I like it. I’m all for people favouring personality over looks. But if grumpy old sods like Paul Giamatti’s character in Barney’s Version, in cinemas now, can pull girls like Rosamund Pike, then which men are left for normal women? Morbidly obese criminals?

Hollywood seems intent on presenting us with a parallel universe where men can get anyone no matter what they’re like. Here, in no particular order, are some of the most unlikely onscreen couples of recent years. If I’ve left any off, share away.

Barney’s Version: Paul Giamatti and Rosamund Pike
She was a Bond girl. He’s made a career out of playing underachievers and weirdos. And he’s not even a likeable weirdo in this film (most of the time). We can only imagine that, since the story is supposed to be Barney’s life seen through his own eyes, he’s just embellishing a tad.

The Holiday: Kate Winslet and Jack Black
We’re not such heartless curmudgeons that we don’t understand the need for the nice guy after having your heart broken. But even the director doesn’t seem to believe in this unlikely pairing, giving the couple a chummy kiss rather than the lustful embraces of Jude Law and Cameron Diaz across the pond.

Couples Retreat: Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis
Favreau – and Vince Vaughn too for that matter – have fallen hard since the glory days of Swingers. Not only are they less funny, they are also less fit. It might have been conceivable that Heather Graham would take a shine to Favreau in 1996. But in this 2009 film he is bloated, boring and a bit of a sex pest.

Hitch: Kevin James and Amber Valetta
She is a model from Manhattan. He made his name as  The King of Queens, an overweight delivery man from, er, Queens.  Apparently she finds his dancing and mustard-spilling skills irresistible.


Zack and Miri make a porno: Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks
We get that this film is in tongue in cheek. We even get that its premise is meant to be absurd (broke flatmates make porn movies to pay the bills, all good clean fun). But we cannot get past the fact that Miri originally fancies Brandon Routh (that’s Superman, by the way) but eventually falls for Seth Rogen.

Knocked up: Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen
She’s a gorgeous, successful TV presenter. He’s an unemployed, unkempt man-child creating a soft-porn website. Really?   


Sideways: Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen
Sorry Giamatti. We know Madsen is marginally less unattainable than Rosamund Pike  but to a depressed, awkward, failed author we reckon she’s still unattainable. 


Cyrus: John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei
John C. Reilly has made quite a lot of money out of playing pathetic losers who are left by their wives- only here his similarity to Shrek, as he puts it, gets him the girl. A very sweet and beautifully-acted film but we still don’t know any women who actually seek out plug-ugly guys peeing into bushes at cocktail parties.

As Good As it Gets: Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt
Jack Nicholson is mean, neurotic and pretty old. Helen Hunt, is beautiful and kind but oh, hang on, she’s a single mother. Well then, no wonder. She probably would have married a bigamous midget now, wouldn’t she?


And a few  in reverse…

Bridget Jones’ Diary: Hugh Grant/Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger
In real life this is a bit more likely – after all thin Zellweger  is going out with Bradley Cooper (whom she allegedly stole from Jennifer Aniston). But the movie Zellweger is about 100 times less attractive than normal Zellweger, and we’re not just talking about her weight. Apparently, Mr Darcy, who is handsome, loaded and surrounded by attractive women, is smitten by her knowledge of British soap operas. 

Muriel’s Wedding: Toni Colette and Daniel Lapaine
What a sheila lacks in the looks department she can make up for in confidence, or at least she can Down Under, where Muriel Heslop, an ugly duckling who has never been on a date,  wins the admiration of an Olympic hopeful. Streuth!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Nia Vardalos and John Corbett
Every girl dreams of a makeover that would increase her level of attractiveness ten-fold. Of course, it helps if you start off with specs because in Hollywood taking off your glasses results in an instant transformation. It’s not really that we don’t believe Corbett would fancy her. It’s more that he seems instantly attracted to her just because she’s got some Frizz Ease.

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