Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers in Film: My Fantasy?

Sorta a Dads in Media follow up.

Two days ago, my friend and I were walking around Target, when we got on the conversation of Jack Black. She mentioned his role in The Holiday, so I had to ask,
Me: Who would you have preferred, Jude Law's character, or Jack Black's character?
Her: Oh, Jack Black's, definitely!
Me: Good, me too!
Her: Jude Law's character really did nothing for me. Well, except when he was with his daughters. That was kind of appealing.
Me: Yeah, but even with that, I definitely would have picked Jack Black over him.
Her: So, what movie character would you most want to be with?

Hmm, this was a tough question. I started thinking through my favorite movies, especially romantic movies. Lloyd Dobbler from Say Anything first came to mind, and as much as I love that fillm, I would never ever want that relationship. Then I thought of Glen Hansard's character from Once, but once again, I felt no strong draw toward him. All these young, romantic guys, but none of them seemed to have much depth or maturity to make me actually want to be in a relationship with them. After two strikes, I had an answer.

Me: Maybe Steve Carrell's character from Dan in Real Life?
Her: Really? I could see that.
Me: Yeah, he's funny and romantic, but he's also a great father and really loves his family.

I began thinking through more of my favorite movies . . .

Me: And maybe Mel Gibson's character from Signs, but at the end of the movie, not before then.
Her: Huh, interesting that you picked two fathers. Is your biological clock ticking?
Me: Haha, no, I don't think so. It's just that when I think of younger men from movies I like, none of them seem to have much depth or maturity. These characters are mature*, and have depth, and life experience, and because they're fathers and love their children, you know that they're responsible and capable of being in a loving, committed relationship.
Her: True, you're right. Even Ewan McGregor's character from Moulin Rouge, he's so great, but I wouldn't actually want to be in a relationship with him. He'd be too emotional for me.

Interesting that both these characters I mentioned were widows, and even the one aspect of Jude Law's character that we liked was him being a widowed father. I saw The Holiday in the dollar theatre with this same friend, and I remember the scene where Cameron Diaz discovers about his children, she asks, "Divorced?" He replied, "Widowed," and my friend immediately said, "That's hot!"

It's interesting that whenever Hollywood portrays a father as a romantic lead, he's almost always widowed, not divorced. Can you think of any divorced fathers as romantic characters? Harry from When Harry Met Sally was divorced, but had no children. This probably isn't true to our society, there are probably many more divorced fathers than widowed fathers, but perhaps widowed fathers are more likely to actually be raising their children, whereas in most divorces, mom has the custody. But I think it's more than that, I don't think Hollywood likes the idea of divorced parents with children as romantic leads. There's just too much baggage, the heroine would have to worry about the ex-wife and the kids' mom, just make the mom dead, and all is fair game! Don't worry about whether or not the father and his children have resolved their grief, she's not in the picture, he's a safe and appealing romantic lead. When I try to think of a movie about a divorced dad, I first think of Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, but I don't think he had any romance in the film. Let's face it, widowers hot, divorcees not.

Still, it's interesting to me that the most appealing men in cinema are fathers. Sure, almost every film has some sort of attractive male lead with desirable qualities. But despite how attractive they may be to me, these young, single men always have some deadly flaw: they're too cocky, too emotional, too needy, too scared, too immature etc. But add some children to that hollywood picture, and those flaws are instantly balanced with responsibility, love, trust, and (gasp!) maturity. Even the most noble and heroic men in film (Wesley from the Princess Bride, Aragon from LOTR, etc), exist in worlds so different from my own, while I can easily fantasize about being Buttercup or Arwen (I actually do fantasize about being Arwen, but for spiritual, not romantic reasons), I just can't imagine one of these men here in my world, with me. Seriously, what would Aragon be to me here in College Station, TX? He wouldn't be the rightful king, saving hobbits, racing his horse, wielding his sword. Seriously, what would he be doing? Would he be in the Corps? Heaven help me, please no! Anything that was appealing about him is completely lost in translation.

Same goes with action heroes. Does any girl really have an actual crush on James Bond? Action heroes are made to fulfill men's fantasies, not women's. Though I have to admit, Indiana Jones wouldn't make such a bad partner. Were Indy just a whip wielding treasure hunter adventurer, he wouldn't hold much appeal for me. But no, Indy is also Dr. Jones, the professor. So there we go, my desire for adventure, danger, confidence, excitement, fun, humor, romance, and sex appeal, balanced with intelligence, a little nerdiness, depth, responsibility, making a difference in other's lives, etc. I'm feeling pretty good about this choice, especially if Dr. Jones brought his whip to the honeymoon ;)

*Thinking about it now, I'm not sure that all of Steve Carrell's actions in Dan in Real Life could be described as "mature," though he was a pretty swell father and a loving man.


if walled in climb up said...

That's so funny that both you and your friend dug Jack Black in the Holiday because I ADORED Jude Law! Jack Black was kind of quirky in a too-weird-for-me way. Jude Law was smooth, charming, and deeply loved his girls. Who could resist "Napkin Head!"

I do agree with your choice of Dan in Dan in Real Life. I fell in love with that movie. It asks so many questions I ask of myself, and he was so multifaceted. I want to believe there's that love you "just know" is right, almost immediately!

It is interesting how the romantic fathers in Hollywood are widowers. I never really noticed it before, but it is hot. I think with the divorced ones, there's always this question at the back of your mind: "Would he get divorced again?"

I think it was Dennis Quaid in The Rookie (?) that I loved as a father figure. He was so sexy yet deep, in my opinion, but he also wasn't single.

crackers and cheese said...

You preferred Jude Law over Jack Black? And after we both drooled over James McAvoy as Mr. Tummus in the first Narnia film, I thought we had more similiar tastes ;) But seriously, we just realized three years earlier what everyone else is just now figuring out - James McAvoy is HAWT, whether he's playing a human or non-human character.

I'd forgotten Napkin Head scene, that was pretty cute. Honestly, it was his extreme smoothness that was such a turnoff. He seemed waaaaay too good at seducing women, and that didn't sit well with me. I much preferred Jack Black's fun-loving, goofy, nerdy kinda smoothness, but that's just me. I love my nerds!