Men in Pants
by Eric J Baker
Wilting summer heat and latent homosexual tendencies: Putting asses in theater seats since July, 2011.
If you had said, “Captain America looks like a generic summer superhero movie, though, within its genre, slightly above average,” then you have reason to be excited. That is, if you get excited by being correct. On the other hand, if you had said, “Captain America seems like a highly abstracted remake of Stripes,” you’d be writing for Pure Film Creative.
Consider: Both movies feature unqualified soldiers who, after some comedic side trips, rise to the challenge; an ornery veteran who deep down inside, cares; a sassy female soldier who doesn’t take shit from people and makes her own rules; a super-secret advanced weapon; and, ultimately, a pro-military, patriotic message. Though in Captain America, the secret weapon is Captain America, not Malibu Barbie’s RV with machine guns.
Set during World War II, Captain America: The First Avenger concerns 90-pound-weakling Steve Rogers (a CG-shrunken Chris Evans), desperate to join the army so he can fight the Nazis – the only politically correct villain left in modern cinema – but repeatedly rejected for poor health. His no-quit attitude impresses a benevolent mad scientist (Stanley Tucci) working for the US Army, who puts him in a top-secret superhero oven. Out pops Captain America, ready to serve!
A thought: Isn’t creating genetically modified super soldiers sort of unethical?
No time to ponder that question, as this scientist previously tried the same procedure on renegade Nazi Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), only he had forgotten to set the oven timer and baked him into a super-villain called Red Skull.* And if there’s one thing Captain America hates, it’s a red-skulled ex-Nazi bent on world domination. Naturally, the only way to stop red-skulled ex-Nazis is to blow shit up.
In a stunning twist, the script is fairly coherent. Director Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III, Jumanji), a pedestrian filmmaker who gives Hollywood what it wants – reliable mediocrity – keeps the story trekking along. Most impressive is the production design, with its art deco-inspired sets and a pretty color palette that is reduced to cool silvers and blues during the action scenes.
Chris Evans is surprisingly low key as the hero. Maybe he wanted to prove he’s not the cocky douchebag he appeared to be in the lame Fantastic Four movies. Or maybe he just, you know, does what the director says.
Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time around Killough and Tuttle, but I find Evans more attractive than Hayley Atwell, Captain America’s bland female lead. She just doesn’t stir anything in me the way a lovely brunette movie actress should. But then, I’ve had a mancrush on Evans since his hilarious, self-mocking performance as fictional action star Lucas Lee in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Some people can’t stand the guy. He’s charismatic, arrogant, good looking, and genetically blessed with a perfect physique. The kind of physical specimen you’d use as source material if you were a mad scientist bent on cloning an army of… I don’t know. People who are better looking than the rest of us.
By the way, the mancrush must not be confused with the bromance. The bromance involves two male friends who spend way too much time together, cite Fight Club and 300 as their favorite films, and help each other work out in the basement weight room. Sometimes they say, “We should have a sword fight, bro.” Ironically, they often use the word gay as a pejorative term for anything that isn’t macho enough to be homoerotic. The bromance is the distant cousin to the mancrush in the way that the ring-tailed lemur is a distant cousin to the mountain gorilla. The main similarity here is that they all involve primates.
The mancrush is for the guy who you want to be, not the guy you want to bang. He’s a cool, handsome chick-magnet who never runs out of bullets and, in a pinch, can operate a fighter jet. He always has an expensive tux hiding somewhere, too.
Funny thing is, from my experience, most women don’t go for arrogant, good-looking movie stars. Sure, there are the Jerseylicious types with their vapid musclehead boyfriends, but I’m talking about women with a cerebral cortex. For example, I dated a girl who became a quivering mess at the sight of Crispin Glover, no lie. My current (and future) significant other considers droopy-eyed Simon Baker, star of CBS’s The Mentalist, to be the sexiest thing on two legs. And, of course, there’s everyman John Cusack. I’ve never met a straight woman who wouldn’t throw away her life for an hour with Cusack.
I guess that makes Evans mine, all mine. But contrary to what our blogmaster, Killough, thinks, there’s a lot more than two Cosmos standing between me and a night of sausage grinding. I prefer my mancrushes to remain two-dimensional (I opted out of the 3D showing of Captain America, just to be safe) and to keep their pants on.
While we’re talking about James Killough and pants… Does this guy have to buy customized jeans with extra crotch room to hold his giant balls? Recently he pledged, on this very site, a cash prize of ten thousand dollars to anyone with, er, compromising footage of Marcus Bachmann. Before that, he gave a public and defiant “fuck you” in response to a woman who threatened legal action against PFC if he did not remove a certain story here by the close of business that day.
[For her edification, I point out to the woman – about whom I have no opinion, my lawyers advise me – that the Internet doesn’t actually close. It’s open all day, every day. Free parking, too!]
Anyway, it’s clear that Killough likes to live on the edge. I live on the edge too… the other edge, where nothing dangerous happens and you have health benefits. So, in that spirit, I offer, respectively, my own pledge and defiant response:
Pledge – I promise to give $9.50 to any major film studio or legit independent outfit that casts the above woman in a well-written, wide-release comedy by the end of this year. She’s best known for playing teenage rock-n-roll groupie Knives Chau in (the last time I’ll mention it, I swear) Scott Pilgrim. In real life, she’s 26-year-old cutey Ellen Wong, who, as an unknown playing against film veterans Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kieran Culkin, was, perhaps, the funniest person in the movie. Whoever takes up this pledge can help fulfill a life-long dream, which is for a stranger to see me on the street, point, and say, “Hey. It’s that one guy.”
Defiant response – Some readers may recall The Uncle Floyd Show, a bizarre, cultish kids’ television program for adults that ran from the mid 1970s to the late 1990s. Through strange circumstances, one of the show’s actors, Mugsy, shared a house with my sister sometime around 1987. When he moved out, he left behind a storage cabinet of bootleg horror movies on VHS, one of which was the European cut of Dawn of the Dead.
Mugsy and I shared a love of zombie movies – I had given him the Night of the Living Dead soundtrack for Christmas one year and he told me it was the best gift he’d ever gotten – so I figured he wouldn’t care if I “borrowed” a movie. A couple of years later, I ran into him. He gave me the stink eye and said, “I’m missing a video. Dawn of the Dead. You don’t have any idea what happened to it, do you?” He seemed rather ill-humored, so I choked out a “no” and changed the subject.
Sadly, and I mean that in the most heartfelt way, Mugsy died of cancer in 2005.
But he was hardly the sappy type, so he won’t mind when I say (6 years after his death and enough time for the dust over this lost videotape business to settle) that yes, I took your bootleg European cut of Dawn of the Dead -which was a shitty transfer in EP mode by the way – and did not give it back.
So sue me, Mugsy’s ghost.
* don’t try this at home. You’ll burn your biscuits.