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From ‘Fear and Loathing’ to ‘Life Aquatic': The best unconventional guy movies

What makes a movie a “guy movie” you ask? There are several qualifiers for this term. Of course, these qualifiers are all broad assertions based on stereotypes, but who cares? Let’s have some fun.

A guy movie has: action, preferably some nudity (humorous or otherwise), boldness, ridiculousness, and Bill Murray. Okay, they don’t always have Bill Murray, but they should. Which brings us to the main point, most guy movies have a character that the man watching can look up to or emulate… like, just for example, Bill Murray. This list will not be the most conventional, but it will focus on the guy movies that don’t always get categorized as such. In other words, don’t look for The Godfather or Die Hard on this list.

The Life Aquatic (2004)

We weren’t kidding about the Bill Murray thing. But really, this movie has it all. There are intense action scenes, including a violent pirate ship-boarding, awkward sex scenes, strong male leads, and plenty of ridiculousness. One of the best things about this movie is that it lets a guy indulge in their whimsical side without it feeling like a chick flick. Starring talented actors/actresses like Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett, and Anjelica Huston, you can’t go wrong. It’s also directed by Wes Anderson, which is just icing on the cake. If that wasn’t enough, the soundtrack is Ziggy Stardust, as performed by Seu Jorge in Portuguese. 

The Life Aquatic

 25th Hour (2002)

Fight Club was a little too obvious, so here’s another Edward Norton classic. This movie depicts the life of a man who has 24 hours before he goes to jail for drug trafficking. His best friends, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper, rally around him in his time of reflection. His girlfriend is played by Rosario Dawson, who delivers a strong performance (and looks amazing). This is a Spike Lee joint, which means you’ll get plenty of philosophical asides and tense moments. This movie is great for anyone who wants something with some violence and nefarious content, but doesn’t want to watch something completely mind-numbing. 

25th Hour

Oh, Rosario…

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Any guy who’s seen this movie knows what we’re talking about. This movie is the quintessential rebellious movie, based on the life of Hunter S. Thompson, and it makes any guy who watches it think about what it would be like to really let loose. The film stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro in their harrowing journey to capture the spirit of the American dream. There are drugs, strange women, hilarious encounters, and unforgettable quotes. Take a trip to bat country.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

“No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.”

Down by Law (1986)

This movie is one of the few Jim Jarmusch movies that people are familiar with, and that’s because it’s a terrific film. As is usually the case with Jarmusch films, the plot is pretty simple. The story follows three men in prison who are plotting their escape. The quality of this movie that makes it unforgettable is the way Jarmusch directs it, with a keen understanding of how to make dull moments pop out.  One of the most comical aspects of this movie is Roberto Benigni’s performance as a foreigner who has trouble communicating with the two other prisoners, played by Tom Waits and John Lurie. “I ham a good egg,” as Benigni would say.

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 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

 A Jack Nicholson classic. This movie really dives into the confines of the male mind, sometimes in tragic ways. It’s the story of a rebellious man who ends up in a mental institution and causes a ruckus among the patients. His antithesis, Nurse Ratched, eloquently portrays the figure of a strong woman that the male lead must contend with. This movie has: crazy people, epic confrontations, alcohol, innuendo, and so much more. It is often cited as one of Nicholson’s best performances. 

Credit: MaryEllen Mark.

Credit: MaryEllen Mark.

Band of Outsiders (1964)

This is the only foreign film on the list, and it is an amazing film. Directed by the infamous Jean-Luc Godard, this movie follows two small time crooks in their attempts to get a beautiful, young student to help them commit a robbery. The movie also shows Paris in the 1960’s, which is a treat to see. Because the movie is directed by Godard, it is very cerebral and dives deeply into the ramifications of a man’s actions.

band-of-outsiders

North by Northwest (1959)

Every man wants to, or should want to, be Cary Grant. Grant is the epitome of what every woman wants: bold, suave, confident, attractive, and witty. In this Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Grant is faced with the problem of being mistaken for a spy by a group of shady men, and has to evade their attempts to end his life. The most memorable scene in this movie includes Grant being chased by a single-prop airplane, which is pretty insane for its time (and even by today’s standards).

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“That’s funny, that plane’s dustin’ crops where there ain’t no crops.”

Honorable mention: The Big Lebowski

This one fits the conventional idea of what makes a guy movie a little more than the rest, but we had to draw a line in the sand somewhere. One of Jeff Bridges’ most notable performances is the story of a man who just wants to get his rug back from the nihilists who stole it from him. This movie will be quoted for many years to come so we better get used to it.

Big Lebowski

“Sometimes you eat the bar…”