Good Boyfriend, Bad Boyfriend: The Game
by Hallie Cantor
HOW TO PLAY GOOD BOYFRIEND, BAD BOYFRIEND
Good Boyfriend/Bad Boyfriend is a fun new game I invented today that can provide you with hours of amusement — hours that would otherwise be spent doing dumb crud like work or socializing. There are two obvious facts you need to know in order to play:
1. In romantic comedies, the female protagonist often starts out with a BF who’s a grade-A bozo and who eventually leaves him for a man who is hotter/cooler/purer of heart.
2. Some male actors have been in more than one movie over the course of their careers.
These facts lead us to the natural conclusion that there are male actors who have played both the Good Boyfriend at the End of the Movie and the Bad Boyfriend at the Beginning of the Movie. Phase One of Good Boyfriend/Bad Boyfriend is all about imagining that these two characters are one and the same.
In 27 Dresses, James Marsden is a babely wedding photographer who helps Katherine Heigl stop being such a whiny pushover by dancing on a bar with her in the rain (shut up, I only watched this movie because it was on TV one time and I was bored or whatever. I definitely didn’t search several websites for an illegal stream of it and watch it while eating a whole bag of Rolos, slowly unwrapping one after the other so the crinkling of the wrappers wouldn’t make me miss any of the awful dialogue in this horrendous movie). He’s a great boyfriend.
But then in X-Men, the very same James Marsden is a toolish dweeb whose big power is that he has to wear dorky sunglasses all the time. Oh, why are you so jealous, Scott? There’s no way Dr. Jean Grey is gonna ditch you for a fucking BAD BOY NAMED LOGAN who is SENSITIVE and gets in CAGE FIGHTS and has ADAMANTIUM CLAWS. OH JUST KIDDING SHE ONE HUNDRED PERCENT IS.
(By the way, I know the X-Men movies aren’t strictly speaking “romantic comedies.” There’s also some boring comic book junk about a plastic prison and exploding jets and whatever who cares, just give us more of the Jean Grey-Cyclops-Logan-Rogue-Iceman love pentagon already! God, I would totally watch a teen drama set in the Xavier Institute.)
So how did sexy photographer Kevin morph into stuffy nerd Cyclops? My theory: after a couple months of Katherine Heigl forcing him to take cute daily pictures of her in bridesmaid dresses for her fashion blog, he couldn’t take it anymore and jammed a camera wire into his own eye sockets. The electricity in the live wire reacted with his eyes [? I dunno, science works in mysterious ways, okay? Get off my back] and gave him his Cyclops powers. He ran away from home and fell in with the rest of the X-men where he posed as a mutant-from-birth to fit in. However, the paranoia of worrying that the rest of the X-men will discover his secret sordid wedding-photography past causes him to overcompensate with bossiness and jealousy towards Jean. THE END!
Of course, your theory may be different. Therein lies the fun of this awesome game.
In Phase Two, we consider all female protagonists as one woman (because, really, with the amount of character development they get, they might as well be) with a string of boyfriends who seem like they might be nice guys but then turn out to be consistently terrible.
Example: In Baby Mama, Tina Fey gets over her Bad (Ex-)Boyfriend Will Forte by gettin’ under Greg Kinnear, who’s like this cool hunky man-of-the-people small business owner who loves making puns about fruit. Basically the dream.
But then in awful-movie-that-was-inexplicably-constantly-on-TV-during-the-years-from-2002-to-2010 Someone Like You, Greg Kinner is a tiny little weenie-man who cheats on Ashley Judd with her boss Ellen Barkin. Which is absurd, because Ashley Judd is a babe and Ellen Barkin like, swans around smugly wearing Greg Kinnear’s giant button-downs and being insufferable for the whole movie. Ugh, she’s exhausting.
Luckily, Ashley finds love in the arms of womanizer-with-a-heart-of-gold Hugh Jackman and wow I didn’t realize until right now that I had such a thing for Hugh Jackman, but he’s coming up an awful lot in this game and I might have to spend some time in Google Images considering this.
Eh, I dunno. I’ll bookmark those pics for later and think about it. But so anyway, then Hugh Jackman is a terrible British cad in Scoop who actually turns out to — spoiler alert — be sort of a serial killer. You can’t get much worse than that, boyfriend-wise.
So by this point, our Fey-Judd-Johannson-Everywoman has gotten over one guy who dumped her for being too into her career by dating a second guy who cheated on her with her boss, and then left HIM for a guy who tried to drown her. To death. As in murder. What is it they say about every relationship being a learning experience for the next relationship? Because this imaginary lady we invented for purely schadenfreude-y reasons is clearly learning nothing. C’mon, imaginary lady. Get it together. We just want to see you happy.
Finally, we have come to Phase Three (expert players only), in which you try to see how long a chain of bad relationships you can create. Ahem:
In Footloose, Kevin Bacon is the big city slicker who wants to tell Lori Singer how beautiful she is and take her dancing, so she ditches her abusive boyfriend (who, WTF, has the nerve to call Kevin Bacon a “pansy” for wearing a necktie? Idiot. Neckties are sexy, dummy).
But Kevin Bacon turns into a major Bad Boyfriend slimeball in Picture Perfect, which was a horrible movie that I hope no one else has seen, for their sake. HE gets usurped by Good Boyfriend Jay Mohr, who I personally think is a little blah, but hey, they can’t all be Jackman, y’know? [Unsubtle wink that turns into eye twitch.]
Then in Jerry Maguire, Jay Mohr is fine okay not TECHNICALLY Renee Zellweger’s boyfriend but I would argue that he occupies the same spiritual and emotional role in the film as her Douche Coworker. She leaves behind his smarmy brand of corporate bullshit in favor of Good Boyfriend Tom Cruise.
Who himself turns out to be a Douche Coworker in Tropic Thunder! And sure okay there isn’t even really a girl character in Tropic Thunder BUT IF THERE WERE (oh God this game is falling apart but let’s just keep moving), she would absolutely dump Tom Cruise for the pure of heart protagonist Ben Stiller.
Then Ben Stiller is a Bad Boyfriend in Reality Bites, whereas Ethan Hawke is a sarcastic poetry-reciting grungy greasy-hair-having Good Boyfriend.
And Ethan Hawke has never played a Bad Boyfriend because he is perfect.
PHEW. We did it. A FIVE-FILM Good Boyfriend/Bad Boyfriend chain (with only two cheats, which we’ve previously established can be excused by the Douche Coworker corollary). Now that you know the rules, I challenge you to join the fray of this honorable game. If anyone can think of a longer chain, I will punish myself by watching the horrible romantic comedy of your choosing.
Although to be totally honest, I’ll probably watch it either way.