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Our Generation

May 15, 2009

Summer lovin': Male perspectives in movie romance

DERRIK J. LANG

AP Entertainment Writer



LOS ANGELES (AP) — During the summer, romantic movies — comedic or otherwise — have usually been just "he said, she said" counterprogramming to all the robots and superheroes blasting the box office. This season, what "he" said is getting more screen time.

The focus in "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" is on Matthew McConaughey as a philandering photographer who is visited by the spirits of his past trysts — all the way back to his first love (played by Jennifer Garner). It was new ground for McConaughey, who democratically tussled with Kate Hudson on screen in "Fool's Gold" and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."

"Usually in romantic comedies, the girl has the guy by the leash," said McConaughey. "This story isn't a battle of the sexes. It's not about me and Jennifer Garner going back and forth, back and forth. Something I've strived for is to find comedy in not being the guy who thinks he has everything figured out, but being the guy who figures out he doesn't."

In "Management," Steve Zahn plays an aimless motel manager who falls so deeply for a traveling corporate art saleswoman played by Jennifer Aniston that he follows her around the country after their fling in the motel's laundry room. Zahn said he thinks "Management" is more like 1989's "Say Anything" than a typical modern romantic comedy.

"Most guys have pretense, and we walk around thinking we're John Travolta in 'Saturday Night Fever,'" said Zahn. "We're not. We're actually kind of idiots, but I felt this guy was accessible and vulnerable but also very honest and real. He says exactly what is on his mind when he says it. I'd never really read a character like that before."

Also taking an over-the-top shot at love is Dennis Cooverman (Paul Rust) in "I Love You, Beth Cooper." During his graduation speech, the nerdy valedictorian nervously professes his love for the most popular girl in school, Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere). Much to his surprise, she shows up at his door later than night for a crazy night out on the town.

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