Understanding some flicks is really pretty much a guy thing

August 26, 1999|By Jon Caroulis

AN OVERWORKED friend of mine needed to unwind, so I went to his house with beer and "The Naked Gun."

Thirty minutes into it, his wife, a smart woman in law school, came by and asked what we were watching. I told her, but added, "It's a guy movie."

After a few scenes she got up, said, "You're right, it's a guy movie" -- and left. Something about a guy movie is just so satisfying, even if it packs the intelligence of a candy wrapper.

What is a guy movie? Here's how to tell: Leave your brain at the door. If women like it, it's probably not a guy movie.

If it's a comedy, bathroom humor is a must. A really good action guy movie has lots of explosions, bad guys who practically beg to be killed in a humiliating manner by the hero, and women who come to realize that the big, dumb guy star is actually smart and kind of cute.

Brains and brawn

The ultimate guy movie is "Raiders of the Lost Ark." But remember, Indiana Jones is a college professor who outsmarts his opponents as often as he outfights them. Brains go with brawn in guy flicks.

A real guy movie celebrates life, the triumph of good over evil, guys sticking together to pull through. One very bright woman I know did not see a Jim Carrey movie until "The Truman Show." His "Ace Ventura" movies didn't entice her one bit.

The first "Ventura" opens with Mr. Carrey as a mail carrier holding a package. He pretends the box is a soccer ball, and we hear glass inside crack. Guys laughed. Women said, "I don't get it."

Here's what to get: nothing. The more mindless, the better. So what's the appeal? We need guy films after we've turned 21, when we realize we "can't" be kids anymore, that we have to be responsible, get jobs and act civilized in public.

Yet women can play an important part in watching guy movies. "The Rock" opens with a teary-eyed Ed Harris at his wife's gravesite. He asks her forgiveness for what he's about to do, and leaves his wedding ring atop the stone. Mr. Harris then threatens to annihilate San Francisco. At the last minute, however, he stops, and says he was bluffing. Guys were surprised. "Wow," we said, "he's really a good guy." "Oh come on," said a woman friend. "He was crying at his wife's grave, you think he'd blow up San Francisco?"

She was right. How did we guys miss that? Well, we checked our brains at the door and didn't want to register a scene that involved "feelings."

Movies' lessons

This is why women need to see guy movies: To understand us, and help us understand about things besides explosions or AK47s. In other words, about things that are important when the guy movie is over.

Jon Caroulis is assistant director of public relations at La Salle University in Philadelphia. He wrote this for the Knight-Ridder News Service.

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