Some movies focus so much on machismo that they inadvertently end up dripping with homoerotic tension. There are tons of movies that are just one make-out scene away from being a bromantic love story. It's ironic when mainstream movies aimed at gay audiences have leads with no romantic connection, when some movies about straight characters have sexual tension simply oozing off the screen. These "gay straight movies" provide an outlet for gay men looking for characters that resonate with them, a subtext of romantic relationships, and pure, unadulterated man candy.
Writer/director Michael Serrato created this viral video hit, “Rambo, But Gay” which is a musical retelling of the popular Sylvester Stallone classic Rambo. It’s an interesting take on the thin line between the overtly masculine and homoerotic. After all, Rambo spends most of the 1980s films half-naked and oiled up, so they are ripe for parody.
Here are my nominations for the 10 gayest straight movies of all time.
10. Fight Club
Edward Norton deals with his ennui by staring at a super cut-up Brad Pitt and forming a club where men fight shirtless in underground rooms. Helena Bonham Carter gives a great performance of a woman as a drag queen. Last but not least, a bleach-blond cherubic Jared Leto follows around Pitt and Norton.
9. The Covenant
Why not remake The Craft with boys in Speedos? A pre-Friday Night Lights Taylor Kitsch stars in a movie about the descendants of The Salem Witch Trials that happen to all be men. There’s a ton of time spent in the locker room and arguing about power.
Abs, briefs and awesome gold facial piercings pervade this cinematic comic book. From the looks of it, the war between Sparta and the Persian Empire would have ended if both kings just made out.
7. School Ties
Brendan Fraser gets into an exclusive prep school but he has a secret that he can’t let anyone know. It’s because he’s Jewish, but it does mirror what coming out would be like. It’s chock full of 1990s heartthrobs including Chris O’Donnell, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Cole Hauser. And thank you, filmmakers, for the gratuitous nude fight scene between Fraser and Damon.
6. Dude, Where’s My Car?
Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott have tons of bromantic chemistry. They spend the entire movie being chased by Nordic men in leather. The film also includes gratuitous Speedo and shirtless shots, Queer as Folk star Hal Sparks and an intense make-out scene.
5. Magic Mike
Channing Tatum attempts to make this a heartfelt biopic. Instead, it feels more like a campy romp. Matthew McConaughey spends most of the time shirtless and in short shorts, Cody Horn is the female lead with a boyish body and everyone wears a man-thong. Let's also not ignore the gratuitous use of The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men."
5. Staying Alive
A waxed and oiled up John Travolta channels Pat Benatar in this sequel to Saturday Night Fever. He looks like a member of The Village People in his costume and ends the movie with one of the more boyish of his love interests, Jamie Lee Curtis. (Note: we have never believed that rumor about the lovely Ms. Curtis.)
4. The Outsiders
Based on S.E. Hinton’s book about rival gangs, this movie features all the heartthrobs of its time. Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and Matt Dillon all star in the film. C. Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio play best friends with a little too many sensitive and longing looks.
3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The palpable chemistry between Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), plus elves with hair extensions. What more is there to say?
Cruise as a money-hungry gigolo making cocktails. 'Nuff said.
1. Top Gun
This movie invented the genre. Tons of close talking about "riding your tail," a very butch Kelly McGillis, and three simple words - shirtless volleyball game.
Are there any you think should have made the list?
There are a lot of sayings in the world of storytelling. One of my favorites is "The only thing that matters is the beginning and the ending. And the beginning, not so much." It’s blunt, manly and filled with a kind of old-time wisdom. It's also totally untrue from anything but the cynical perspective of a professional entertainer. Alfred Hitchcock has a better one: "75% of directing is casting." It's similarly blunt, and similarly untrue. But it's close.
Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders, an adaptation of the already legendary novel by S.E. Hinton, boasted a cast that defined the new Hollywood pretty boy: Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, and Tom Cruise. There's also C. Thomas Howell as the lead. They're all sinfully young and there are a lot of bare arms and chests, a shower scene and more three way man hugs than I personally have ever seen. And I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Diane Lane's in it too, and similarly sinfully young, but she's played only as a lilting Juliet note to punctuate the rival boy gangs of the working class greasers and the upper class socs.
If all you've seen of Francis Ford Coppola are the Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders will feel like a filmmaker sleepwalking through a story about brotherly love, family and class. But if you've seen You're a Big Boy Now and The Rain People you can recognize the familiar Coppola obsessions with family, loyalty, rites of passage and fatherhood. Nominally there aren't any fathers in the film, but clearly Swayze's role is that of father to these lost boys.
The magic of The Outsiders is in the way Coppola cast the movie and the way he shot the film. The boys themselves are never alone in a frame. They're always in pairs, groups or trios for those ever-intensifying three way man hugs. The house, run with a strong paternal hand by Swayze, is always filled with these young men, a kind of moving depth of frame that plays every table and chair and doorway as another place where the family might rest. It's a density of love expressed through arm wrestling, teasing and proclamations of eternal loyalty.
If One from the Heart cleared Coppola of the dark jungle sights and sounds, The Outsiders cleared him of the male love as expressed only through the kill or be killed primitivism of Apocalypse Now. The clear lesson of the film is about love, one that lands far more soundly than any of the songs in One from the Heart. Only Matt Dillon's Dallas Winston carries the true primal charge. While the rumble between the greasers and the socs feels a bit sound-stagey, Dallas always has danger inside of him. Which is exactly why Dillon ended up in Coppola's next movie, a kind of B-side to The Outsiders made in the same place with the same crew. Once again Coppola used a less personal studio film to make a smaller, more personal film, also based on an S.E. Hinton story, Rumble Fish. The Outsiders and Rumble Fish are sort of like symbiotic organisms; flip sides of Coppola’s cinematic preoccupations.
Next week: Rumble Fish.
This follow-up to Daddy Day Care picks up with Charlie Hinton (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Phil Ryerson (Paul Rae) running their thriving day care business. With summer approaching however the prospect of camp for their sons comes up and Charlie vehemently opposes to it. He had bad camp experiences you see but when he grudgingly takes his son Ben (Spencir Bridges) to Camp Driftwood he finds that his old rival Lance Warner (Lochlyn Munro) is running the swanky Camp Canola nearby. Camp Driftwood is of course in shambles but Charlie thinks he can fix it up and continue his business into the summer. The first day goes badly so Charlie is forced to call in his father Buck (Richard Gant) to help with the outdoorsy stuff as Lance continues to taunt Charlie and his kids into an Olympiad competition. The story actually provides a strong moral center about fathers and sons communicating while the jokes don't get any more sophisticated than poison ivy and farts. But that's what you bargained for. You can say one thing about Gooding and Rae: They never make you think about Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin the original Daddys. There’s some continuity but Gooding and Rae make these characters their own—for better or for worse. Gooding is a father trying to make a better life for his son who has his own daddy issues while Rae is once again just the goofy sidekick. In the wild moments Gooding prances and mugs like a cartoon character with no subtlety whatsoever but tones it down appropriately in the more serious moments. Gant (Norbit) gives Daddy Day Camp its heart. As the strict military patriarch it’s a little much when he turns all Col. Buck on the kids but it's believable. But then when he slowly breaks down and realizes what an absent father he's been those moments work. Character actor Munro (Deck the Halls) seems happy to once again play the bad guy. Director Fred Savage (yes the same kid actor from The Wonder Years) made the best Daddy Day Camp he could considering the subject matter. All it really takes is setting up one comic disaster after another for the heroes to overcome. Scenes with hordes of screaming kids running rampant are plentiful of course and it couldn't have been easy to coordinate that take after take. But balancing the silly antics with the film's heart is the most impressive task. As much as it may be a chore to sit through unsophisticated kiddie pratfalls you've got to respect how the meaningful scenes play out. There is a real journey in Daddy Day Camp. Sure the kids will laugh at the sloppy muddy gooey gunk but the parents may appreciate the other stuff.
Don’t let the previews fool you—Terabithia isn’t anything like Chronicles of Narnia. Based on the Newbery-Award winning children’s novel by Katharine Paterson the story is more about childhood friendships and the way imagination can quite literally open new worlds. Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) sees himself as an outsider at school—and at home. He really only feels himself when he’s drawing. Then he meets the new kid Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) who has just moved from the big city. Despite their differences—she’s rich he’s poor—they become fast friends. Leslie who likes to spin magical stories opens Jess’ eyes to the possibilities and together they create the secret kingdom of Terabithia a mystical place accessible by swinging on an old rope over a stream in the woods near their homes. Interacting with the Terabithian denizens they’ve imagined both evil and good Jess and Leslie learn to deal with the pressures of their young pre-adolescent lives—and learn what the power of real friendship truly means. The young fresh cast really make Bridge to Terabithia work. Robb and Hutcherson are already veteran kid actors: Robb is best known for stealing hearts in Because of Winn-Dixie (another kid novel adaptation) and popping chewing gum as Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while Hutcherson played the tough older brother in Zathura as well as Robin Williams’ kid in R.V. Their acting experience clearly shows as they make the friendship between Jess and Leslie both genuine and heartfelt. There isn’t a false moment in their performances especially from Hutcherson who at first sends off an I-could-care-less vibe but through his soulful eyes becomes more attached to Leslie and their secret place. And as Jess’ little sister 7 year-old Bailee Madison plays the moppet without any cutesy affectations. As far as the adults are concerned stand outs include Robert Patrick as Jess’ stern dad just trying to make ends meet for his family and Zooey Deschanel as the kids’ music teacher who Jess has a crush on. In 1978 author Katharine Paterson wrote Bridge to Terabithia for her then 11 year-old son David Paterson about a special friendship he had. It was an instant hit. Now David all grown up is able to bring his mom’s touching story to life as one of the writers. Talk about a family effort backed by Walden Media--the geniuses behind Holes and Chronicles of Narnia. Directed by Rugrats creator Gabor Csupo Terabithia truly captures the essence of childhood imagination even I dare say more so than Narnia. Maybe it’s because the idea of Terabithia comes from the minds’ of very real children who are going through very real emotions as they enter into adolescence. Csupo keeps the imagery simple allowing audiences to create a fantasy world filled with mythical creatures right along with the film’s main characters. And if you haven’t read the book you might be surprised by the story’s poignancy. In a saturated field of animated duds and kid films better suited as after-school TV specials Bridge to Terabithia stands out as a one of the better family movies to come around in a long time.
She's a hip-hoppin' be-boppin' mean ol' nanny who whips a mean stew and your butt for not doing your homework—and now she's back! Alas we don't speak of the Mrs. Doubtfire sequel but rather that of Big Momma a.k.a. FBI Agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence). Agent Warner has cut ties with the FBI at the behest of Sherry (Nia Long)—who as you no doubt recall is the granddaughter of the real Big Momma—since she's pregnant with Malcolm's baby. But wouldn't you know that he gets sucked back in after a former colleague is killed. Posing as Big Momma he's hired as a nanny to a suburban family the deadbeat dad of which is involved in the murder and a crime plot. She does it all—cooks cleans dances and even runs down bad guys but it's a race against time to stop the potential national security crisis. That is a race against the film's (mercifully) short running time. Although Lawrence's resume includes some of the dregs of comedy it's hard to argue that he is truly blessed when it comes to physical comedy and comedic timing. He continues both trends here this time without the help of the breakthrough actors of the past two years Paul Giamatti and Terrence Howard who yes both starred in the first Big Momma's House. That means Lawrence's urban mania is truly on its own and absurd and juvenile as the film may be even film snobs can't hold back a few laughs at his Big Momma outlandishness. Longreturns for no more than a select few scenes and to provide a minor conflict in the story. The notable newcomer is CSI's Emily Procter as the sterile mother who hires Big Momma. She does a serviceable job as a suburban Petite Momma. Might she be the next Giamatti or Howard to bolt to bigger and better things in time for the next sequel? No.
Big Momma's House 2 is right up director John Whitesell's alley. He's the guy behind such misses—though not necessarily financially—as Malibu's Most Wanted and See Spot Run and he's right at home here. Whitesell doesn't hold back in (literally and figuratively) pulling the robe off Big Momma but he clearly knows that nothing is to interrupt Lawrence's antics not even the thin story line. Aside from that he knows quite well how to execute thinly veiled rip-offs of the aforementioned Mrs. Doubtfire as well as countless other hidden-motive comedies (i.e. Kindergarten Cop Houseguest et al). Because while the main guise is the Big Momma fat suit Whitesell parades the film about as a feel-good/family flick.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars in which the Christians tried to reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslims who had conquered the Middle East in the 7th century. With the battle cry of "God wills it! " thousands of Europeans answered the call and were able to retake the fabled Holy City in the 11th century. Kingdom of Heaven begins in 1186 between the Second and Third Crusades. A fragile peace prevails mostly through the efforts of Jerusalem's enlightened Christian king Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud). But it's difficult to maintain the peace. There are extremists within the Christian brigades--known as the Knights Templar--who want to wipe every Muslim off the face of the Earth. On top of that King Baldwin's health is failing. Once he's gone war is sure to follow. If ever there was a need for a hero this is the time. Enter the young French blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) who is in deep despair over the loss of his family. He joins the Crusades after the father he never knew Godfrey (Liam Neeson) comes back from Jerusalem and convinces him it's a quest worth fighting for. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son he also passes on that sacred knightly oath: to protect the helpless safeguard the peace and work toward harmony between religions and cultures so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. No pressure or anything though.
Orlando Bloom carries his first major motion picture very well easily handling the chores of being such a gallant conscientious and morally upstanding knight. As Balian the Troy costar plays the gamut. He broods over his lost wife and child has father-son epiphanies upholds his knightly duties on a regular basis falls in love with a beautiful but troubled princess and finally bravely defends the Holy City from the encroaching Muslim army thus becoming a legend. Not bad for a day's work eh? There are even times especially toward the end when Balian is standing before the denizens of Jerusalem urging them to fight when you swear you can see a little of Bloom's The Lord of the Rings alter-elf Legolas creep in. The supporting cast also does an adequate job painting a picture of some trying times. Chief among them: Jeremy Irons as King Baldwin's right-hand man Tiberias; Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy) as the evil leader of the Knights Templar; Massoud as the great warrior Saladin; and lovely Eva Green (The Dreamers) as Princess Sibylla King Baldwin's sister who captures our hero's heart but makes some bad choices with dire consequences.
Even if these sword-and-armor epics are all blending together you've got to give props to the directors who make them. These films are massive undertakings and Kingdom of
Heaven with the expert Ridley Scott at the helm is no exception. The Oscar-winning director of course has had his fair share of recreating history first with the classic Gladiator and then with the contemporary Black Hawk Down. But in recreating the Crusades Scott faces his toughest challenge to date and takes on the responsibility very seriously. He is painstakingly meticulous with details even as he is building a 12th-century Jerusalem or corralling 2 000 heavily costumed extras for the colossal climactic battle sequences. And it is always a good thing when a historical film can teach you something you may not have known like what the heck the Crusades were really all about. No Kingdom's biggest obstacle is timing. While it certainly has more substance than Alexander it is not nearly as intense and stirring as The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the granddaddy of them all Braveheart. Too many of its ilk has come before and the concept has unfortunately worn thin.