Naturally, the only reason I watched Brief Interviews with Hideous Men was to ogle John Krasinski. John - since he is #3 on my Celebrity Boyfriend List, I feel as though I earn the right to call him “John” – is most famous for playing Jim on The
Office. Although I enjoyed his work in Away We Go, which he starred in with my celebrity doppelganger Maya Rudolph, he succeeded in capturing my heart once and for all in his charmingly goofy role in It’s Complicated. To steal even a moment of a scene from Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep is quite a feat, don’t you think? But then again John Krasinski has perfected the whole charmingly goofy thing...plus I am an absolute sucker for geeky, funny guys. It’s a match made in stalker heaven.
After eagerly imbibing in It’s Complicated, I just had to go back and watch the first couple seasons of The Office, which I had missed since I’m a Johnny Come Lately to the series. Oh. My. God. The whole flirtatious, push me-pull me, heart-on-his-sleeve thing he has going with Pam the receptionist makes me melt every time. Delicious. So, yeah, I tuned in to Brief Interviews with Hideous Men for the eye candy and his shy smile, I must admit. Plus, John directed and adapted this film from David Wallace Foster’s book, so I figure if I ever have an opportunity to meet John, we will have fodder for our deep and lengthy intellectual discussions. After I make him my love slave.
John’s movie is a compilation of brief interviews with men (duh) being asked about their relationships with women by a young graduate student working on her thesis (played by Julianne Nicholson, who looks a lot like my friend Sarah K.) We never hear the actual question, though most men tend to relate tales of sex and sexual dysfunction. Personally, I enjoyed the interviews, which to me seemed to be improvised (though perhaps it’s due to the fact they are so artfully written?) Many of the actors indeed are improvisers, and they put in compelling performances. Will Forte’s (“Saturday Night Live”) riff on how much he loves women was hilarious though eerie. (I definitely wouldn’t date his character.)
The film opens with Ben Shenkmen’s interview when he confesses his compulsion to involuntarily yell “Victory for the forces of Democratic freedom!” in the throes of passion. (Check out the clip here.) This first interview captures the tippy balance of attraction and repulsion, a theme around which the film circumvents. There is a certain churlish repugnancy to Shenkmen’s character (I certainly would never date him either!) But then the whole “Victory for the forces of Democratic freedom!” is so random and funny that it pulled me back in.
I’m not sure these men are particularly hideous, per se. Perhaps it’s just that they’re telling the truth. Still, it’s hard to watch this movie without thinking, “Men are such [insert intensely non-flattering term here,]” which may or may not quickly be followed up with “But since I’m not gay, I guess we have to make due with what we got.” (The “making of” video presents an interesting series of interviews with the very much non-hideous actors who are contemplating the attraction-repulsion balancing act at the core of the movie.) Though there are an abundance of thoroughly disgusting views perpetrated in this movie, I found myself laughing a lot while watching Brief Interviews of Hideous Men as well as making plenty of pensive “Huh” and “Hmmm” noises as well. Most critics panned this movie, but if it made me laugh, gasp and think, it can’t be that bad. In fact, I definitely recommend it. (Then again, I didn’t read the book, which always helps when watching a cinematic version of a literary work.) I’d love to hear your reactions to the movie – it’s a good one to watch and then spend a couple hours with friends in a café breaking it apart.
Spoiler alert: if you’re watching Brief Interviews of Hideous Men to revel in all that is yummy about John Krasinski, you’ll probably be disappointed. He plays a real asshole who is hard to like. I definitely would not date his character. No way. Icky poo poo. Maybe these men all are hideous after all. But then again…