Adam McKay, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Brad Pitt, bromance, cinema, film, George Clooney, homoeroticism, Julia Roberts, Kenneth Branaugh, Luke Wilson, Matt Damon, movies, Oceans Eleven, Old School, Paul Rudd, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Pirate Radio, quickies, Richard Curtis, Ron Burgundy, Steve Carrell, Steven Soderbergh, Todd Phillips, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell
Pirate Radio (dir. Richard Curtis, 2009) – As movies go, bad. But, it’s another example of the mythologizing of the 60s, as seen in other rock ‘n roll period films like Almost Famous and Taking Woodstock. Like those, this one centers on a male youth who’s a fish-out-of-water, an audience stand-in that helps us relate to the wild world of the then. The era is remembered with fondness, a time of innocence and blossoming, letting loose our scruples and letting our wild juices flow. It’s decidedly overly utopian, even when it does acknowledge an opponent out to get them. In this case, it’s Kenneth Branaugh, whose character is such an irredeemable villain that the audience has nothing to grab a hold of. He has no humanity, no motivation, no incentive other than taking down people who like contemporary music. We’re never shown his underlying affections, only his rampant hatred. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
Old School (dir. Todd Phillips, 2003) – It had been awhile. This time more than ever, was overwhelmed by the presence of phalluses. This is a textbook case of the bromance, or the dickflick, after all. Women so don’t matter in this world. The men all move in with each other. They kiss each other. They hug each other. They treat each other with the kind of affection they are incapable of showing to women (“You’re my boy, Blue!”). They hate Dean Pritchard, as does the film itself, which is interesting. He plays a gay-ish character, while the rest of them are defined simply by their homoeroticism. The former is shameless and consummated, while the latter is closeted and defined only by desire.
Oceans Eleven (dir. Steven Soderbergh, 2001) – Pure entertainment, for the most part. It’s not a “bromance,” technically, but it’s an all-boys show for sure. Julia Roberts is the token woman presence, which functions, of course, as an excuse for all the guys to get together and take down a man who’s defined by lack of community, unlike this crew. It’s also a celebrity-fest, obviously. The men here are portrayed as the sex objects they are in “real life,” with Brad Pitt in particular wallowing in own beautiful image. He does here what Sandra Bullock used to do all the time (maybe she still does; who knows?): eat constantly while maintaining a beautiful figure and complexion, stirring a raging jealousy in us alongside a desire both to have him and to be him.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (dir. Adam McKay, 2004) – While it mightn’t immediately jump to one’s mind as a bromance, this is the real deal, no doubt. Multiple and lengthy sequences exist in which male members of the news crew both express their undying affection for one another and their undying loathing for the addition of a woman to the staff. An interesting feature of the bromance, which is reflected in Anchorman, is how the films themselves work as opportunities for male bonding in the viewing experience. The films not only depict repressed men in love with one another, but they encourage homoerotic bonding in male viewers and completely reject the possibility of allowing female viewing pleasure as a woman. To appreciate the comedy of these films, a woman must deny herself and assume a male position. The way female characters even speak in these movies causes wonder as to why an actress would accept such a role. The dialogue forces her to speak solely for male pleasure, catering to the misogyny (however ridiculous it may be suggested to be) of the male audience.