Movies For Men

ESSAY

September 17, 1995|By Rob Hiaasen

"Jaws" was on TV again last night and again I saw every shred of it. While merrily watching marine biologist Hooper dump shark entrails on the dock, I thought there must be a way to honor such great guy movies as this.

Hollywood should establish a Hall of Fame for Guy Movies. These movies would be films that, when they are on television, men will watch in rapture. Guys already have seen the movies maybe a 100 times. It doesn't matter. Their wives say, "You have seen this movie maybe a 100 times." It doesn't matter.

Our first-ballot nominees would be "Jaws," "Young Frankenstein" and "National Lampoon's Animal House." The movies are on television with all the delicious randomness of the universe. You could be looking for the latest "Nova" or "Masterpiece Theatre" when you find frat brother Bluto, of "Animal House," dumping mustard on his soiled toga.

Wise men return to PBS. Guys stay put. A quiet evening of quality television between two consenting adults is shattered:

"What happened to the Lifetime special on Carly Simon?" your wife asks. Then, seeing a sweating, grunting John Belushi on the screen again, something inside of her collapses in resignation. She leaves the room, leaving you again with one of your favorite movies:

* "Young Frankenstein."

This Mel Brooks parody of the old Frankenstein movies should be on every night after the local news. It's high-guy cinema when Victor Frankenstein is reunited with his prissy fiancee, Elizabeth. He moves in to kiss her. Closer, closer. "No tongue," she whispers. Victor, brought to the edge of ecstasy, is sent to bed alone. Some guys relate to this scene, although Victor's plight is foreign to me, of course.

The movie, however, does offer moments of stunning reality and sophistication, which are the cornerstones of any guy movie. Every time Cloris Leachman's character (Frau Blucher) is mentioned by name, horses rear and whinny.

When analyzing the movie among friends, it's mandatory to yell Frau Blucher! and make horsy sounds. You'll never feel closer to a friend than after making horsy sounds together. Beer helps.

* "Jaws."

The 1975 classic about a shark gulping vacationing New Englanders features the Greatest Guy Cinema Scene: A gang of shark hunters are aboard the boat of shark expert Quint. They are drunk and swapping scar stories. That scene alone would make a great 15-minute movie. Sheriff Brody contemplates showing the others his measly appendectomy scar. We've all been there. Guys with scars love to show them off (see Harrison Ford's chin). Scarless guys don't dare show off their, what, really nasty bruises?

"Jaws" also offers Quint's monologue about a ship called the Indianapolis going down and two-thirds of its crew getting killed by sharks. Robert Shaw, in his Quintiest voice, talks about a shark's eyes: "lifeless things . . . like a doll's eye." Guys relate to sharks because they are big, simple and vicious. Sharks are, that is.

Channel-surfing guys always light on a nature channel, where divers are always caged underwater off Australia's Great Barrier Reef as great white sharks circle and ram, ram and circle. The sharks' jaws are opening and closing, closing and opening, and the beasts have lifeless things for eyes. Like a doll's eye.

* "National Lampoon's Animal House."

A new low. The frat-house comedy opens with a shot of the statue of Faber University's founding father and the motto of the great institution: "Knowledge Is Good." It might be the greatest opening to the greatest guy movie. It surely is the greatest piece of guy wisdom. Knowledge is good.

What guy can't relate to the --ing frat boy Otter? Learning of the death of his date (in a kiln explosion), a weeping Otter asks her friend if she'll go out with him. Of course, she says. "And," Otter says, "could you get dates for my friends?" Now there was a guy who, in a moment of personal tragedy, thought about his fraternity brothers. It's a guy thing.

"It's a guy thing" is used often -- and unsuccessfully -- to explain male behavior. Webster's defines the phrase as an "inexplicable, senseless pleasure that men continue to enjoy long after women see any social or entertainment value in it." That's Billy Webster's definition -- no relation to the dictionary people. Billy works at Jiffy Lube.

Other movies will be eligible for the Guy Movie Hall of Fame as soon as they appear on TV at least once a night, every night until the cable goes out. "Patton" is first-ballot. You won't see George C. Scott anywhere near Madison County. He'd blow up those bridges. And for reasons too glorious and numerous to mention, "The Godfather" is at the top of the list, too. Should be on every Sunday at 8 p.m.

There are other guy movies in the running. As a public service, I will repeat my capsule reviews that originally appeared in the films' national print ads:

* "This is Spinal Tap." "This is perfect satire!"

* "Caddyshack." "In a word, Bill Murray!"

* "Raising Arizona." "Many funny parts!"

* "The Wild Bunch." Didn't see it but heard guys love it.

In time, these movies all will achieve the status enjoyed by the likes of "Young Frankenstein," "Jaws" and "Animal House." We will watch them maybe a 100 times. It won't matter. It's a guy thing.

Frau Blucher!

ROB HIAASEN is a features writer for The Sun.

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