BP Double Feature: 10 (1979)/ Anchorman (2004)

“We’ve been coming to the same party for 12 years now, and in no way is that depressing.”

Way, way, way behind so I won’t spend a lot of time talking about two movies that don’t deserve much in the way of substantive criticism.

Blake Edwards’ 10 was my inaugural choice for watching Netflix on TV through my Wii. (Hell, “wii” sounds a little dirty, so why not watch a film that shoots for same level of adolescent naughtiness.) And with Edwards recently passing away, it seemed like a good time to revisit a film that, while not among Edwards’ best work, served briefly as a cultural touchstone, one to which my 13-year-old self (with cable TV no less) keenly paid attention.

They don’t really make American sex farces like 10 anymore; they’re a victim of altered sexual politics. We’ve grown up a little. Dudley Moore’s George seems a bit bemused and befuddled, even on the cusp of the 80s, to discover young women who seem to be in charge of their own sexual appetites and whose definitions of monogamy are as flexible as his.

In fact, the theme–even what you might call the dramatic tension of 1o, the idea of the middle-aged man  on the make in the swinging’ 70s–is effectively parodied in Anchorman. And the cartoonish quality if the latter film underscores how far we’ve come. Where Dudley Moore’s George might be viewed as sympathetic, Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy is simply pathetically self-delusional.

Both men are stuck in time, watching the world around them shift. But where one man plight is cause for pathos, almost 25 years later, the other deserves only ridicule.

Blake Edwards seems badly out of fashion now, but you can give him some credit for believing that middle-aged people going through mid-life crises were worth chronicling. Nor did he shy away from sexuality and nudity. In that way, the Judd Apatow school to which Anchorman belongs is our 21st century equivalent. But where Moore’s character acted like an older man who wanted to turn back the clock, Apatow’s movies concern men who are basically children.

Edwards’ films also are one reason (along with Woody Allen), why the idea of the mid-life crisis seems so stale today. But times, indeed, have changed. Men don’t rule the world as they did–and as a casualty, we, as a culture, care less about their foibles.

In turn, pop culture has flipped.Bo Derek’s sensuous female seems impossibly desirable in 10–until she opens her mouth and speaks cardboard.In the world of Anchorman, Christina Applegate’s character outpaces poor Ro n at every turn. Where Dudley Moore was merely boorish, idly rich songwriter, men today are often portrayed in films, especially comedies, as simplistic neanderthals.

Maybe we really are witnessing the End of Men.


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