As a life-long typical guy (I have the birth certificate to prove it) and movie fan for nearly as long, I’ve acquired a long list of personal heroes, most of them cartoonish tough guys whose onscreen characters always reflected the kind of cool I wanted to be when (or if) I grew up. I think the first was Charleton Heston after I saw Planet of the Apes, and later Earthquake, The Omega Man and Soylent Green. I know most people think of Heston as the larger-than life superdude from Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments (also quite cool), but for me, Heston was coolest when he played everyday folks forced to kick-butt when he had to. In reflecting similar heroes of my youth, I gotta add Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and (of course) Clint Eastwood. With hindsight, none of these guys made many ‘chick flicks’ or faced moral dilemmas in their movies (back then, anyway). They just took action, consequences be damned. They were just plain cool.
As a teen, cool was redefined by Kurt Russell in Escape from New York and Mel Gibson in The Road Warrior. Both true anti-heroes if their ever were any, their antics weren’t too far removed from very the bad guys going up against them. Not only did they look cool, dress cool and act even cooler, they hardly talked. If I learned nothing else from these two characters, it’s that truly cool people don’t sit and debate endlessly about an issue. Why debate with some idiot when it’s easier to just punch their lights out or blow them away?
I still love those types of movie characters even now, even though I’m well into my forties. While Bruce Willis may be a fine actor, equally adept at comedy and drama, I’d much rather see him kick the crap out of bad guys in the latest Die Hard movie than demonstrate his dramatic range in The Sixth Sense. There’s nothing cooler than a guy who, not only blows people away, but always has the perfect line afterwards to punctuate his actions. I’m sorry, but Shakespeare in Love, as fine as the movie is, just doesn’t give you that kind of rush. That’s what guys like me love, and we never outgrow it, for the same reasons we will always think farts are funny.
Think I’m wrong? Then name the last Harrison Ford movie, where he isn’t kicking-butt, saving the world or living off the seat of his pants, that’s worth seeing a second time.
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