It’s been a long journey for Ryan Reynolds and my heterosexual man-crash. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the man-crush began, although it obviously went through its formative stage during “Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place.” It hit full-blown status upon the release of Van Wilder, a movie I recently revisited with results so embarrassing that I couldn’t muster up a retrospective review out of fear of reminding Mr. Reynolds of leaner times (seriously: There’s a sequence in it where a bulldog is masturbated to fruition, and his spunk is used to fill the inside of Éclairs).
Because Homeland Security seized Pajiba’s hard drives back in 2006, and because I had to recreate the site from Google caches, there are no accurate dates for posts before May of that year, but it appears that I first confessed my heterosexual man crush around the time that Blade Trinity was released back in 2004. I’ve championed several movies over the years, Waitress, Rocket Science and (500) Days of Summer, are the most notable, but Ryan Reynolds — something of a familiar but not well-known actor in 2004 — would become the first actor I ever championed on the site (Joseph Gordon Levitt and, briefly, Olivia Thirbly would also be minor characters in that category). I saw the potential in Reynolds, even as he continued to make movies seemingly designed for cable, like Just Friends and Waiting …, films which he nearly single-handedly salvaged. (Not even Reynolds, however, could salvage the risible remake of The Amityville Horror). After that, there was a rough patch, highlighted only by Smokin’ Aces, but I continued to carry that torch. I knew that Reynolds would someday be an A-list star, and many were coming around to that realization themselves, though there were just as many who tittered at my man-crush and wondered what my fascination with the man from “The Pizza Place” sitcom was all about.
But I saw it. Reynolds had magic. He also had the best abs in Hollywood, not to mention a deliciously smarmy Jason-Lee brand of sarcasm that has since become a Ryan Reynolds brand of sarcasm — it was charismatic snark.
He also had those abs.
Definitely, Maybe may have been the real turning point, a solid little romantic comedy perfect for date-night DVD rentals. It was sweet, funny, and touching (with a dash of Clinton-era nostalgia), and an unexpectedly minor box-office hit, which he followed up a year later with a small but crucial role in Adventureland, one of my favorite films of 2009.
And then all that man-crushing finally paid off. Reynolds was cast in the minor role of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a terrible X-Men prequel that Reynolds, nevertheless, managed to steal in his extremely limited screen time. And then The Proposal made him an A-list star, and it was after its release that I realized that I could sadly never review a Ryan Reynolds movie again. The mainstream had taken Ryan Reynolds away from us; he no longer needed championing. It was the best thing for Reynolds — my objectivity where it concerns him had been called into question, and praise for his subsequent performances would have to come from other critics here, so there would be no doubt (see, for instance, Buried). It was a sad realization. Reynolds no longer needed my assistance, and though I’ve tried to renounce my man crush since, it hasn’t taken. Now, however, I’m just one among thousands.
But all six years of effort have finally paid off for Reynolds, as he has finally reached the pinnacle — it’s all backlash from here on out. And no: I don’t mean Green Lantern. Or Deadpool. Or any of the other high-profile projects he has in the works (R.I.P.D., Safe House, Most Wanted and The Change-Up). The true pinacle is this:
Ryan Reynolds has been named People’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2010.
Congratulations, R-Squared. I knew with enough effort and determination, we could work together and make this happen. The world finally sees what I, and so many of us on this site, have seen for so long. You’re a star, man. You’ve joined the ranks of only a few others, like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, and Denzel Washington.
You’re on your own now, Double R. Don’t fuck it up. Don’t do Allan Loeb scripts. Don’t do Green Lantern movies until the world is sick of them. Choose your directors wisely. Do an indie film once a year or so. Don’t isolate yourself to genre films — remember your sense of humor. Grow that beard back occasionally and play a villain. Avoid the tabloids as much as you can. Remember your Canadian heritage. Don’t become a Scientologist. ScarJo is not my favorite person, but make that work — don’t be one of those guys that marries and divorces yearly. Remember your self-deprecating charm; even more than the abs, it’s what got you to where you are. Do another movie with Anna Farris at some point. And at the first opportunity, work with Nathan Fillion. Do a stint on “Castle” or cast him in one of your movies. There’s not that much separating the two of you; a right turn here or a left turn there, and it could be Fillion who is wearing the Hal Jordan CGI. Recognize and appreciate.
Most importantly, Ryan: Don’t be a dick. And if you ever need a reminder of where you come from, just rewatch this clip. If you ever win an Oscar or even a Golden Globe, do us a favor and have a sense of humor about it: Don the fat suit again, and sing this at your acceptance speech.