Yesterday, Jack Giroux over at Film School Rejects wrote an interesting piece on Ten Not-So-Heroic Heroes In Recent Memory. It’s a good list with some provocative choices (Cobb is a d*ck, isn’t he?), but I had a rather predictable reaction. “No ladies on your list, Giroux? Not even one? Ladies can be d*cks too!” But then I thought about it and couldn’t come up with any female heroes who were unheroic. To be honest, I didn’t think long and hard about it because my mind kept drifting to Sucker Punch and that is a deceased horse (an ex-horse, a pining for the fjords horse), that doesn’t need anymore beating. Then my brain started toeing the more typical gender lines and I recalled all the d*ckish chicks in films that have been pissing me off of late. They’re the unlovable love interests.
Listen, the course of true love never did run smooth. There’s bound to be (ought to be) conflict in a good love story. I rather like a difficult women (Shakespeare’s Kate and Beatrice being two classic examples), and one of my all-time favorite genres, the screwball comedy, is chock-full of dames who are excessively zany and difficult. But you know what you need, as an actress, to pull that off? Charm. Mountains of it. Carole Lombard at her ditziest and Katherine Hepburn at her most obstinate were never anything less than charming. It’s not a lost art. Some modern-day actresses have the lethal levels of charm to pull off what ought to be an unlikable character (Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama, Amy Adams in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, Meg Ryan in Kate & Leopold).
But, whether it’s bad writing or a deficiency of charm, I’m sick to death of watching adorable and loving men chase after women who are total wenches. Listen, most of these ladies are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but looks can and should only get you so far. Not present on this list are horrible female characters who are pursued by equally horrible men (e.g. McConaughey/Hudson in How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days or Stewart/Pattinson/Lautner in Twilight: The Saga Continues: Are We There Yet?). Those dreadful folks deserve what they get: each other. Frankly, they’re doing the rest of the population a favor. So here are some women who do NOT deserve to be wooed and wed by such charming fellas. Ladies, you need boatloads of charm to pull these roles off. No, not dinghyloads. You’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Julia Roberts—Larry Crowne: Tom Hanks IS charm. Sure, in this flick he might be Forest Gump mentally-deficient charming. But, still, charming! Julia Roberts character is sour, bitter and only smiles when she is drunk. Not cute “I’m a little tipsy” drunk. Sloppy “I have a problem” drunk. What Crowne sees in her is absolutely mystifying.
Kate Capshaw—Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom: Really, Indy? You went from badass Marion Ravenwood to…this? This childish, useless, whining brat? I am SUPER disappointed, Indy. We, all of us, like the Nazi chick better. You hear that? She’s worse than a Nazi.
Renée Zellweger—Down With Love: This must have been a tough script to work with. Pastiche is a terribly tricky genre and Doris Day’s kitten heels are tough to fill. But while MacGregor knocks it out of the park all cheesy grins and cheeky asides, Zellwegger comes off as smug, abrasive and unlikable. I like ol’ Bridget better than most but not in this film.
Anne Hathaway—Love And Other Drugs: Okay, this is tough, because Hathaway’s character is sick and I don’t like picking on sick people. That being said, dear god is she obnoxious. Gyllenhaal’s character is not flawless, but his repeated puppy-like attempts to win her seem so unfounded. She’s great in the sack…that’s…okay, what else?
Natalie Portman—No Strings Attached: Dear Natalie Portman, I hate you most of all for making me side with Ashton Kutcher. If you haven’t seen this film (I don’t blame you), Kutcher is, against all odds, sort of winning and sweet. He makes her mixes and brings her treats and makes nice with her friends. He’s delightful. She, in contrast, is harsh, callous and unfeeling. I found myself rooting for Kutcher’s character to cut and run. Rooting. For. Kutcher. Seriously, Portman, f*ck you.
Catherine Zeta Jones—No Reservations: The original German film Mostly Martha, is one of my all-time favorites. That film proves that if you have enough charm, you can pull off the kind of emotionally damaged and somewhat frigid character this script calls for. It makes sense in the German version why the exuberantly charming Italian chef would pursue Martha. In the American version none of us can understand what adorable Aaron Eckhart sees in Zeta Jones.
Andie MacDowell—Four Weddings And A Funeral: You think Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell deserve each other in this movie? No way. She’s the dullest adulterer to ever offend me with a series of preposterous hats. Grant’s character isn’t a monster! He just stammers a lot and proposes to a girl he doesn’t love only to leave her on the alt-okay, you may have a point.
Joanna Robinson is starting to wonder if that “looks can only get you so far” thing is a total crock. Do looks get you all the way? Is that the lesson here? Also, she knows there are scads of unlovable male love interests. She urges you to dump on them in the comments.