As one of the few female contributors to this site, I felt it was my duty to represent the other side of superficial this week. Attractive women are fine and dandy, and I also admire and enjoy the lovely ladies Todd opined about in his previous post, but come on. The men are where it's at! Ladies, gay men and the bi-curious straight men out there, you know what I'm talking about.
One of the wonderful advantages to Hollywood's ridiculous attitude when it comes to beauty is that often, horrible movies and television shows can be made imminently more watchable by throwing in a few attractive actors. I have been known in the past to continue watching something I hate on all other levels except the attractiveness of the cast. There's a reason I stuck with The O.C. through the doldrums of season three, and it had everything to do with how hot Benjamin McKenzie looks in a wifebeater. Seeing as male full frontal is a rare occurrence due to the prudish nature of the MPAA, the gold standard for male hotness these days has to be the bare chest. Below, find five of my favorite performances by pectoral muscles that have made even the worst movies or television shows watchable.
1. Channing Tatum in She's the Man
(You can skip to to 01:03 to go directly to Channing, or you could stick around for the whole thing and enjoy the bevy of different shirtless men that make up the film's credits. You're welcome.)
Due to random circumstances, I had the opportunity to accompany a friend to the premiere of She's the Man. I knew nothing about the film going in except it was based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, it was a teen movie and starred Amanda Bynes. Well, I think Amanda Bynes is just the cutest overacting young comedienne in the business, and we all know how I love teen-themed entertainment, so I was fully on board. As we left the theater, though, all I could ask was "Who was that mysterious boy with the amazing chest?"
You see, Channing is shirtless in this film. A lot. A lot a lot a lot. And he looks divine. Needless to say, I now own this movie and willingly pop it in every so often to see his glorious chest. Oh, and Amanda Bynes is pretty cute in this as well. But whatever. CHANNING'S CHEST!
Channing has sort of made a career out of displaying his workout ethic. Other outstanding performances by Channing Tatum's chest include:
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints:
Here's hoping the upcoming G.I. Joe remake is similarly bare chested, because I have a feeling it's going to need it.
2. Ryan Reynolds in The Amityville Horror
The current trend of remaking classic horror films is pretty disheartening. The new ones have no nuance, no actual creepiness -- just gore, grittiness and hot, sweaty young bodies. Yet, sucker that I am, I've seen them all. House of Wax? Terrible. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Ridiculous.
That brings us to The Amityville Horror. Glutton for punishment that I am, I agreed to accompany a friend on opening weekend. We saw it in the awesome Arclight Cinerama Dome, and it was pretty packed. Then it happened. Ryan Reynolds appeared on screen wet and shirtless, clad only in tissue paper-thin pajama pants...and there was an audible gasp in the theater. 500 people (well, minus a few straight and proud men I am assuming) admired that chest all at once, and it was a beautiful thing. I love it when a group of random strangers has a common experience. It makes me feel like a part of the human race.
Another outstanding performance by Ryan Reynolds' chest:
I fell asleep every time I tried to watch Blade. I didn't even bother with Blade II. Yet after seeing The Amityville Horror you bet your BEHIND I rented Blade: Trinity. I mean, damn.
3. Young Americans
(The shirtless bonanza starts at 06:00 in the pilot (above) and lasts for the entire 8 episode run of the series, which available on YouTube in its entirety.)
Once upon a time, there was a network called The WB that was known for its teen dramas. One day, an executive at that network had the bright idea to spin off its most prized jewel, Dawson's Creek. Enter a random childhood pal of Pacey Witter on an episode to give his back story and draw in all of the viewers, add a complete sponsorship from Coca Cola to underwrite the whole thing, and you have Young Americans, the worst summer counter-programming that ever was.
The problem with this genius plan? The Creek viewers didn't follow, and the show was canceled after only 8 episodes. During those 8 episodes, however, you can find some of the most shameless displays of teenage skin in the short history of the network. Men, women, extras, regulars...everyone stripped down at one point or another. And it was a beautiful thing. Who needs good acting, writing, and story progression when you have nubile skin? (This show pretty much launched the careers of Kate Bosworth and Ian Somerhalder, so if you are fans of either this is a must-see.)
4. The volleyball boys of Top Gun
This one is a little bit of a cheat because I enjoy Top Gun as a whole, but the absolute transparent intentions of this scene meant I couldn't leave it off the list. I mean, they're playing volleyball on the beach. Oily, sweaty, hot volleyball, clad only in jeans and sunglasses. It's shameless pandering, and I eat up every second of it. My friends. No matter your feelings about what Mr. Tom Cruise has become, you can't deny that he used to be great, and this video is definitive proof of that. Throw in Val Kilmer at his physical peak and the always adorable Rick Rossovich, and you've got a great shirtless scene. Watch, enjoy, and try not to sing "Playing with the Boys" for the rest of the afternoon.
Summerland (also of the late, great WB network) was definitely an equal-opportunity pleaser. If you could look past the ridiculous storylines and cliched dialogue, there was a hot, bathing-suit clad actor to suit everyone in America. A teen girl looking for nonthreatening hotties? You have heartthrobs Jesse McCartney and Zac Efron. A teen boy looking for cute and quirky girls your age? There's the adorable Kay Panabaker. For those with more mature tastes, Lori Laughlin, Merrin Dungey, Ryan Kwanten, Shawn Christian and Taylor Cole provided ample ogling opportunity (guest stars Carmen Electra, Simon Rex and Sara Paxton added to the hot body count as well). Because the titular family lived on the beach, everyone was wet and scantily clad, at all times. Seriously, there hasn't been an example of a family-oriented drama with this much skin before or since, and if they release this puppy on DVD I will be the first in line.
Okay, folks, it's your turn. What's your favorite performance by an actor's rock-hard abs? And no fair picking things like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Of course he's smoking hot, but that movie is actually good. (For inspiration, try the Wikipedia entry for barechested or my new favorite site, squarehippies.)