“We’re actually kind of idiots.”
Such is the guiding philosophy of romantic comedies these days, as voiced by a man who gets to star in one of them. With the statement above, Steve Zahn of the upcoming movie Management was adding his two cents to the conversation about the latest stream of male-centered chick flicks. Many of the movies that have debuted recently or will premiere this summer are romantic comedies whose protagonists, the ones with the emotional angst and the happy ending, are men: honest, vulnerable men. Or, you know, bumbling idiots.
In new movies like I Love You, Beth Cooper, Management, 500 Days of Summer (pictured above) and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, the male has lost his swagger. Instead of playing the confident jerk or the smooth lover, actors like Zahn, Matthew McConaughey and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (familiar with the rom-com genre from one of the greatest films of our time) play real guys with real weaknesses, guys who don’t have it all together, and guys who fall in and out of love. We may have seen male characters like this before (Gordon-Levitt did have the pathetic act to a tee back in ‘99), but very few romantic-comedies have been solely male-driven.
For women, it’s probably a good thing— we’ve spent way too long watching the girl-next door get strung along, the scheming seductress bring her man down, or two drama queens fight over a guy with a hysterical superficiality that gives womanhood a bad name (Bride Wars, anyone?) And for men? Well, as nymag.com put it, “the theaters will be teeming with opportunities for you and your buddies to go out and crush some brewskis before secretly crying crocodile tears in the dark for 90 minutes.” Sounds like everyone wins.