… for not pairing yourself off with one of the young-and-lovelies in your latest movie, The Internship.
I’m so thoroughly sick and tired of leading men of a certain age being romantically partnered in movies with women who are just much too young for them. Men may age more gracefully than women (although, truly, how much is this because we’ve been conditioned to think that grey hair on men is distinguished while the same on women is old-croney; and that men with lines around their eyes show character while the female equivalent is called ‘crow’s feet’?) but for those of us with eyes in our head, it’s still jarring to watch a romance unfolding on screen between a man who’s clearly way too old for his female counterpart.
I suppose it doesn’t help that I’d just watched Hugh Laurie (aged 54) get jiggy with Leighton Meester (aged 28) in The Oranges. I really admire Hugh Laurie’s prodigious talent, which is saying a lot because I grew to so loathe his persona in House that I stopped watching it; but even taking into account Meester’s character’s aggressive sluttiness in The Oranges, it was still pretty icky to watch her kissing the old guy from next door (who happened to be her father’s best friend – double-yeuch).
I was thoroughly put off these ‘May-December’ onscreen matches back in 1992, when the reptilian Michael Douglas, already then a somewhat scaly 48, played opposite the sizzling Sharon Stone, a truly stunning 34, in Basic Instinct. When he donned that ridiculous V-necked sweater (which showed his nasty old man boobs and wrinkly neck) to rub up against Sharon Stone (looking like a goddess in gold) in the nightclub scene, my eyes threw up a little.
A similar thing happened for me in Up Close and Personal a few years later, when a grizzled 60-year-old Robert Redford locked lips with Michelle Pfeiffer – one of the most beautiful women in the world at 38.
I was under 30 years old myself back in those days, and had been freaked out by my fair share by ‘old men’ coming on to me at nightclubs – to be fair, anyone over about 35 I considered to be ancient, but the principle stood: I wasn’t impressed by their hip-and-happening-ness, hanging around clubs and bars on the weekends with people half their age; rather, I wondered why they weren’t home with their wives or helping their kids with their homework.
Anyway! The movie The Internship is very silly, but I really enjoyed watching it. It’s a great underdog-makes-good story and the fact that it was filmed on Google’s actual campus in California made it even more appealing. The one thing that prevented me really getting into it was waiting for the inevitable moment when one of the male leads (Vince Vaughan, 44 and looking it; and Owen Wilson, 45 and hanging on by his fingernails to that tousle-headed surfer-dude look) hooked up with one of the very young female interns. I was gigantically relieved that didn’t happen, although Owen Wilson’s character did get together with Rose Byrne’s workaholic manager (Rose is 34 in real life) – so they didn’t quite manage to sidestep the temptation to pair one of their older male leads with a much younger female star.
Harrison Ford, that icon of midlife crises (when he hit his 50s, he got his ear pierced and married Calista Flockhart), was also recently paired with an unbelievably (literally) younger woman: in Firewall, his grizzled 63 years are cozied up against the luminous Virginia Madsen’s 44 – a yawning 20-year age gap that made me grind my teeth. And there are plenty of other recent examples of this mismatching: Denzel Washington (pushing 60) and 35-year-old Kelly Reilly in Flight; 49-year-old Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley (27) in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World; and 61-year-old Liam Neeson and 29-year-old Olivia Wilde in Unknown.
The only onscreen older female/younger male equivalent that jumps to mind is Kim Cattrall, the ever-older woman in Sex and the City – and her almost unfailing ability to lure younger men into her bed is unashamedly attributed to the fact that she’s prepared to do anything sexually; basically, she’s a big fat slut.
So, once again, thankyou, Vince Vaughan, for not getting off with an implausibly younger female in your latest movie. And please don’t do it in any of your future movies either.