What Makes Good “Guy” Flicks: Why “Bullet to the Head” Hits and “The Last Stand” Misses

Not every motion picture that we want to see has to be “important” to enjoy.  In fact, we believe that going to the movies should be an enjoyable experience, whether you go out deeply reflective upon what you have seen or just smiling ear to ear.  With a movie ticket more expensive than ever (even with a Senior Citizen discount), we think that mixing up your movie-going with some “guy” films is part of a balanced cinema diet!  But “guy” films today are getting harder to find.  Teenage vampire/zombie flicks pretend to appeal to males, but they are really designed so a teenage boy can get a teenage girl to sit near him in the dark so he can try to cop a feel.  Fortunately, there are still a few “guy” films that have action heroes we can relate to at our age and have virtually no appeal to women – and that’s a good thing.  To figure out what makes a good “guy” film work (and where they can fall short), we examine two of the latest offerings, one with Sylvester Stallone and one with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Let’s get this out of the way right up front:  we love both Arnold and Sly. They have given us great cinema moments over the years and we don’t want to start a flame war along the lines of an “Apple vs. PC” feud!  However, both stars have been in more than their share of movie duds along the way that provide awkward balance to their memorable successes.  And since both of these legendary action stars now have well-worn AARP cards in their respective wallets, they must choose their film projects very carefully to best appeal to their similarly mature audience.

We here at Suddenly Solo are more than willing to cut our action stars plenty of slack as they age.  After all, none of us are immune to the effects of gravity and, in the case of movie stars, the harsh light of brutal high-definition photography.  But there are still some basic “must-have” ingredients in a “guy” flick that must now be present in even larger amounts since our macho heroes are battling the effects of Father Time in addition to the evil “bad guys” on the screen.

Sly’s most recent film, “Bullet to the Head,” provides extra-healthy doses of totally gratuitous T&A, explosions, insane fight sequences and politically incorrect wisecracks that made it more enjoyable (for us) than Arnold’s “The Last Stand.”

Arnold is far more willing of the two to embrace the “I’m too old for this” persona than Sly.  Of course, The Terminator is still a force to be reckoned with as he faces off in the must-have man-to-man showdown that appears in both films… but you can’t escape the feeling that Arnold might lose!  A really good “guy” flick should never put us in this position.

Stallone looks positively jacked in his offering.  His veins are literally popping on his forearms (makeup?) with maybe 1% body fat.  He is a hard-drinking New Orleans hit man with an über-hot tattoo artist daughter who clearly doesn’t own a bra.  Arnold, on the other hand, stays more demurely attired as a small-town sheriff looking to downshift his life after a “real” job in the LAPD.  His female supporting cast obviously thinks Victoria’s Secret is some sort of television quiz show, judging by their schoolteacher fashion sense.  “Guy” flicks should always make the hero someone we want to be today, and the film should never spare female pulchritude.  “Bullet to the Head” is the runaway victor in these important categories.

But while Sly’s movie clearly scores more points in the sex and muscle flex categories, “Stand” wins the car-chase war.  Although it is not the latest version, a 1,000-horsepower 2012 ZR1 Corvette provides the adrenaline throughout much of Arnold’s film. GM also strategically puts in a fire-engine red Camaro for a head-to-head duel to help round out the Chevrolet presence.   No really good “guy” flick should be without high-energy vehicle action.  After all, a driver’s license is probably the only thing we have in common with the stars!

Arnold also scores another win in the obligatory “guy” film ingredient, the “side-kick” supporting role.  There has to be an easy rapport with the hero’s partner/assistant/hostage/person to whom they are handcuffed.  The gender of this person really isn’t that important unless they are the only woman in the film, in which case appearance and skimpy attire are more important factors.  That said, Sly’s reluctant detective partner is only the butt of slightly inappropriate racial insults and he doesn’t generate a lot of empathy.  However, Arnold is buoyed with a surprisingly good Johnny Knoxville as an off-kilter townie who has a stash of impressive military-grade hardware.  Give us Johnny’s borderline, joyful insanity here.

To be fair, both of these pictures are good “guy” films in that they are totally mindless guilty pleasures that are aimed solely at those who have both X and Y chromosomes.  But when you do the “guy film” calculus that adds up the sex, explosions, car crashes, fights, shootouts and “that’s-just-wrong” moments, “Bullet to the Head” is the winner.  And as with ALL “guy films,” leave the ladies at home.


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