Man’s man Woody Harrelson

18 Sep

It was quite a stretch to see Woody Harrelson play a gay man’s man in movie ‘Friends With Benefits’ (FWB), he got the man’s man part down pat, whether he is a psycho in ‘Natural Born Killers’ or some happy go lucky animated stoner type dude in ‘A Scanner Darkly’.  The hemp loving actor (for its textile qualities not the THC) is one white guy you wouldn’t mind having as a friend… if he is so approachable in real life as he is in his screen characters. He appears to be so unusual you would think it makes sense that he was white but would still just laugh and laugh and laugh with him on a basic human level… assuming he half as funny in real life. But that is the beauty of Harrelson in virtually any role he plays. The goofier the better, and even if its is a gritty character with only intelligent things to say, its damn near always a firm sale to film audiences because he hardly ever comes across as cynical, preachy, know it all or any of those annoying newly rich/over-educated/incurably arrogant people things.

Now here he is playing a sports journalist for GQ with out a single stereotypical effeminate thing about him, nor is Woody a painfully stylish dresser in FWB. The film’s idea was already done to death by the first stop-it-I-like-it dialogue between Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in ‘No Strings Attached’ or Jake Gyllenhal and Anne Hathaway in ‘Love and Other Drugs’. The ending was always the same never mind the hard choice moments that went with those films (Alzheimer’s in the Jake movie) In fact FWB would have been a more thought provoking film if Justin and Woody also got together in the film even as Justin was trying that whole homey-lover-friend thing with Mila Kunis. Fact is male or female soon as you throw a supply of regular sex with the same partner into the mix it throws the camels back out, the straw that finally breaks that camel’s back is a couple trying to articulate the mutual feelings. Then guess what? Couples (cause that’s what they would be by then) suddenly find themselves deep in relationship territory with no map to get back to where it all started. I am sure in Botswana it is still taboo to openly acknowledge that people are doing the nasty outside of conventional rules such as marriage, monogamous relationships, heterosexual sex, and safe sex even. But it doesn’t stop it all going down every damn day, or the GC Massive from speculating in loud whispers about it.

Back to FWB; the real challenge for the film, and maybe a veritable creative Rubicon of sorts for Justin Timbersnake (… yeah right) as well as the audience, would have been a scenario including the dynamics of a three way relationship with no strings attached. It would be easy at this point to imagine a denouement (resolution) where the three characters come together in the end for a literal ménage a trios (threesome) rather than a hard choice of a single decision which the lead character would be willing to live with…. Rewind… we were at Justin bonking both Woody and Mila, separately, and with the condition that it was just sex. That would have brought up the question of love in a heterosexual affair and a homosexual affair having the same rules; the question of is it cheating if you are dabbling with the same sex at the same time as the opposite sex; the question of how would Justin’s character deal with feeling emotions for a man that were “supposed to be” for a woman and visa versa. Yes, yes, yes, I am sure the gender equality activists will have you know that we are all people inside and it doesn’t matter who you love blah, blah, blah… but I am sure when they put the placards down and take off their toyi-toyi All Stars they also really wonder about it.

Maybe FWB could have been a less funny film with more current and useful lessons had it not tried to ride that men-&-women-can’t-just-be-friends (‘specially if they be thuggin’ on da regular) bandwagon. However it would have been a more relevant film to the 2000 & nows (flash mobs aside) and really the sooner we parents get to grips with the ever evolving social interactions the better. I don’t want to over react if my daughter ever announces that she is in love and moving to America because she can get married at 16 there. Be that as it may, with no disrespect to Will & Grace… only Woody Harrelson can say, “I live in Jersey! I ain’t takin’ no ferry… unless it’s after a dinner and a show. BAM!” And you laugh like a damn fool.

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