Unevenly matched

After noting in a post that Reese Witherspoon is threatening to become the next Meryl Streep, Robert Stacy McCain explains the apparently unfortunate dynamic at work:

Here’s the thing about Out of Africa: The girls get to see Robert Redford, one of the most handsome leading men in cinematic history. The guys get … Meryl Streep.

You see what I’m talking about? It’s like every Barbra Streisand movie, ever.

There’s this feminist fantasy film formula where the ugly duckling is paired with the impossibly handsome man. Somehow, with her feisty ways and her quirky sense of humor, she manages to make this sexy hunk of a man fall passionately in love with her. It’s basically Chicken Soup for the Unattractive Girl’s Soul, except it’s toxic.

This kind of fantasy encourages unrealistic romantic aspirations in quite the same way as all those movies where the clumsy schlub magically lands the Playboy Centerfold Dream Girl.

As a clumsy schlub in my own right, I must point out that Streisand actually pulled it off, in Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? Granted, this was 42 years ago, and she was playing opposite Ryan O’Neal, a large sheet of drywall, but nonetheless, she pulled it off. It’s possible to make a case for The Way We Were, with Redford, but I think Arthur Laurents’ screenplay was always more of a political piece than a love story, and the film suffers as a result.





8 comments

  1. Tatyana »

    5 December 2014 · 7:39 am

    I see those “impossible” couples on the street all the time: he – a “sexy hunk of a man”, could have posed for a cereal ad (which is what R. Redford reminds me of…as an actor he does not impress); she – a short, flat-figured, insect-thin bow-legged woman with perpetually irritated expression and brassy manner. This wasp of a female completely dominates her spouse, while he believes himself to be the boss.

  2. backwoods conservative »

    5 December 2014 · 7:55 am

    Robert Redford has impressed me very much as an actor. It’s his shortcomings as a political analyst that has lowered my opinion of him.

  3. Tatyana »

    5 December 2014 · 8:40 am

    Where did he act? It’s always self-conscious posturing and keeping “thoughtful” face.

  4. Tatyana »

    5 December 2014 · 8:44 am

    Looked @ the IMDb: the latest movie is called Truth and he plays Dan Rather.
    How apt!

  5. backwoods conservative »

    5 December 2014 · 8:45 am

    In “Three Days Of The Condor” he acted like a very knowledgeable person. In real life he has proven to be anything but.

  6. backwoods conservative »

    5 December 2014 · 8:46 am

    “Truth” and “Dan Rather” don’t belong in the same sentence.

  7. Tatyana »

    5 December 2014 · 10:40 am

    BC – exactly. And so Mr. Redford and “good actor”.

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