The terms “macho movie” or “guy movie” mean different things to different viewers, but there are some generally accepted testosterone-laden features that typify the genre: hot cars, do-or-die competitions, curvaceous co-stars, sexual initiations, road trips, and even a little bromance. You’re also likely to find the plots spiced up by raunchy dialogue, aggressive slapstick, endless obscenities, ultraviolent fight sequences with high body counts, and scenes of female conquest with gratuitous nudity. The heroes — and anti-heroes — are often loners and mavericks, destined to be unapologetic about their behavior. Guy films may require you to leave your brain at the door since they’re often devoid of character development and richly nuanced dialogue, but the best of the best will never put you to sleep either.
So what are the most prominent types of guy flicks out there?
1. Action (Also Secret Agent and Martial Arts)
This brand of guy movie is fueled by adrenaline rushes, acrobatic combat sequences, fiery crashes, and major explosions — often played as a race against time. With undercover intrigue complicated by double agents or vigilante plotlines peopled by killing machines and villainous bad guys, the action flick is also notable for its high-tech gadgetry, sexy cars, and sexier women.
Prime Examples: The Bourne Ultimatum, Grindhouse, Casino Royale, Crank, The Bourne Supremacy, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, The Bourne Identity, The Matrix, Mission: Impossible, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Predator, Commando, Rambo: First Blood Part II, The Terminator, The Road Warrior, Enter the Dragon, Goldfinger
2. Crime and Gangster
Although primarily associated with the Mafia, the crime pic can also address activities like drug dealing, heists, cover-ups, gambling, white-collar corruption, and the art of the con. Any tales of retribution often culminate in ugly violence while the rise-and-fall stories are likely to incorporate vendettas, executions, and sometimes even bloodbaths.
Prime Examples: Sin City, Training Day, Fight Club, Casino, Heat, Se7en, The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Goodfellas, RoboCop, Scarface, Taxi Driver, Death Wish, The Godfather: Part II, The Godfather, Dirty Harry, The French Connection, Shaft, Bullitt
Arguably the least violent of guy-movie subgenres, outside of the comedy, sports movies often deal with true-life athletes and always involve male-bonding, friendship, competition, training, coaching, the joy of victory, and the agony of defeat. Other signature elements include drinking, carousing, sex, underdogs overcoming amazing odds, and the nature of obsessive quests.
Prime Examples: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Longest Yard, Remember the Titans, Any Given Sunday, Field of Dreams, Major League, Bull Durham, Hoosiers, The Natural, Raging Bull, North Dallas Forty, Slap Shot, Rocky, Rollerball
Once a celebration of patriotism, the war film has evolved to encompass sociopolitical critiques of honor, self-sacrifice, male-bonding, survival, and war as entertainment and propaganda. Escape films and boot-camp-training films also fit within this category, but, no matter whether the film is pro or con, generally speaking war is hell.
Prime Examples: 300, Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Patton, The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape
Always on the verge of obsolescence, this quintessentially American genre takes place on the gritty frontier of the Wild West, with rugged heroes and bandits wrestling with notions of right, wrong, justice, and revenge, often with a six-shooter, horse, and saloon nearby.
Prime Examples: Unforgiven, The Outlaw Josey Wales, True Grit, The Wild Bunch, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Professionals, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Magnificent Seven, The Searchers
6. Crass Comedy
Whether it’s a coming-of-age story or a simple bromance, the guy comedy is often typified by lowbrow potty humor (toilet gags, intestinal problems) and high-stakes risks taken to lose one’s virginity. Jokes revolve around sex, romantic pursuits, growing pains, partying, trash talk, embarrassing predicaments, and gratuitous sex.
Prime Examples: The Hangover, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Old School, Office Space, The Big Lebowski, There’s Something About Mary, Swingers, Dazed and Confused, Fletch, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, Animal House, Blazing Saddles