My favorite parts of “Bridesmaids“—well, besides the Wilson Phillips reunion—were Jon Hamm as Kristen Wiig‘s jerky and totally self-absorbed hook-up buddy and Melissa McCarthy as her twisted, tell-it-like-it-is fellow bridesmaid. So I am pretty excited that these two actors will be reuniting—under the direction of “Bridesmaids”‘ Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, no less—for a new comedy. In the flick, Jon and Melissa apparently become “unconventional lovers.” The plot description doesn’t tell us much, but I assume the unconventional part is that Jon Hamm is an all-out hot hot hottie while Melissa McCarthy, who stars in the show “Mike & Molly,” is adorable but heavy.
As we all know, Hollywood isn’t about overweight. It also doesn’t like ugly or, gasp, average. When it comes to romance on screen, it usually only happens between exceptionally good looking people with traditionally great bodies.That said, over the years, we’ve gotten used to seeing not-as-attractive men find love with stunning women. Perhaps we have Woody Allen to thank for this for since he always cast himself opposite young, beautiful things. Judd Apatow has also contributed to this phenomenon, pairing up on-screen couples like Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl in “Knocked Up.”
But it’s exceptionally rare in a movie to see an average woman end up with a mega-hot guy. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it all day and can only come up with a few examples. “Hairspray,” where, in the original (1988), hot Link Larkin falls for plump Ricki Lake, and, in the remake (2007), Zac Efron makes eyes at Nikki Blonski. Then there’s “The Truth About Cats And Dogs” (1996), where Janeane Garofalo plays an awesome radio DJ who is insecure about not looking like her good friend, Uma Thurman. But given the choice between the two women, super cute guy Ben Chaplin picks personality and falls for Janeane. (Why is it presented as if you can only have one—either looks or personality—when they often come in the same package?) And finally, there’s “16 Candles,” in which Molly Ringwald lusts after Jack Ryan, a super gorgeous senior while she’s a (supposedly) unextraordinary sophomore. In the end, they kiss over that birthday cake and … sigh.
Usually, when a movie wants to make the point that a guy is able to “see a girl for who she really is,” they pull a “Hollywood homely.” This is when they take a gorgeous actress, give her glasses, mess her hair up, put her in unfortunate clothing, and make a point of adding in dialogue about how unattractive she is. The key here is that, at some point during the movie, she’ll get a makeover and—how convenient!—her outside will be just as gorgeous as her inside. Think Benjamin Bratt falling for Sandra Bullock in “Miss Congeniality,” after she morphs from grizzly cop to beauty queen. Or Freddie Prinze Jr. crushing on Rachel Leigh Cook in “She’s All That,” after she gives up the art geek duds for makeup and a sexy dress.
This type of pairing—a hot guy and a “Hollywood homely” girl—happens all the time on TV. And so we have Tina Fey and Matt Damon on “30 Rock.” And Cynthia Nixon dating the George Clooney-esque Detective Stevens on “Sex and the City” and talking about he’s too good-looking for her. The only problem—Tina Fey and Cynthia Nixon are both stunning.
All this is to say, I think it’s fascinating that Jon Hamm and Melissa McCarthy will be paired up romantically on-screen in this new movie. Because in real life, while the norm is that people tend to find partners who match them, people of varying sizes, appearances, races, ages, IQ scores, incomes, etc, etc, etc, do fall in love.
I have no idea what the plot of this new movie will be. It could do something undermining—like making Hamm a habitual chubby chaser or playing McCarthy’s size for laughs—to make me regret ever thinking it was a good idea. But I’ll choose to expect the best here. Who knows? Maybe it could help normalize the thought that the average woman can win in love.