Halloween is fast approaching, and that's the time of year when we like to kick back and cuddle up in the crisp weather and scare ourselves silly with creepy movies. Me, though? Yeah, sometimes I'll watch scary movies. But mostly, not so much. And if a movie is truly frightening, I probably won't like it much because I'm a coward and I'll lose sleep if I'm disturbed. So instead of late night fright-fests, I trick out the season by indulging in my kind of treats. Last night, for instance, I was up 'til 3 in the morning, watching a movie, simply because I couldn't resist the appeal of one of my all-time favorite hotties in action. And it got me to thinking about trying to pin down the ultimate flick for my favorite actors.
So I figured I'd start this off with the one that actually kept me up last night. It's not a secret that I've harbored a long standing crush on Keanu Reeves. Before it came to be known as a "bucket list," I often put that as one of my primary goals in life -- to kiss Keanu Reeves. Believe me, I know it's never gonna happen, but a girl has to dream. I don't harbor fantasies about hooking up with him or anything like that. (Though, sometimes, in the middle of summer on a hot day when I'm not feeling up to the task, I do daydream about having him cut my lawn. I guess it's the "hero" thing. Or just that I still imagine he'd look the best sweating in a white t-shirt. Whatever.) But just one smooch, even on his cheek, and I'd be pretty happy.
Keanu is a strange specimen. He's aging curiously, almost preternaturally well, so it's hard to say if he even has hit his actual peak yet as far as his looks. But he also doesn't always make it easy to adore his movies, because he waffles between offbeat-borderline-bizarre roles and sometimes over-the-top sentimental dreck. But he has, though his many critics would deny it, also managed to bag a few choice gems over the years. It's hard to turn down the surfer fun with Gary Busey in Point Break, and, of course, The Matrix was a feast for the eyes not just because of the introduction of bullettime effects. But even with those in the running, it's still 1994's directorial debut from Jan de Bont that races to the lead. Speed blows past the others.
Not only did Keanu finally cut his hair, but he also showed off an easy charm that kept the action hurtling along without ever derailing the audience with cringe-worthy line deliveries. (Okay, one or two slip in there, but mostly at the end, when he's really emoting, dude.) The movie boasts a simple plot with a tight script and all the right smart flourishes to keep it a classic among action flicks, but Keanu does carry the flick. Instead of the cocky swagger that Bruce brought to the modern action hero template, Keanu grounded his do-gooder with a decided lack of pretense or depth which worked in his favor.
There was no nagging tragedy in his backstory, and instead of smirking at his own cleverness, it was scripted right in that Dennis Hopper, between his mustache-twirling antics, would often mock Keanu's Jack Travers for not being fully cocked in the brain department. And it worked. His forearm muscles rippled while he flirted with Sandra Bullock and managed to figure out all the right moves, and he undertook his death-defying tasks with a mix of gum-chewing cool and stoic resignation. But he even delivers the required smart-ass line at the end --when he speaks of the villain's fate -- with a deadpan gravity instead of twinkly-eyed wit. And he does deliver plenty of crinkle-eyed smiles along the way, but they're all directed with an earnest intent, not laughing at his own jokes, but reacting to Jeff Daniels or Sandra's quips. And it's precisely those unguarded, light moments that catapult this movie to the top when ranking Keanu-eye-candy moments. He always looks great, but in most of his roles, he's confined to his "brooding" or "intense" looks, carrying a dour demeanor. But his smile unleashes his happy-go-lucky demeanor, and it knocks my socks off, allowing him to accomplish the seemingly impossible -- become even better looking.
And his looks are nothing to scoff at. Frankly, I'm not sure a man can be made any better looking than he is. He is the very definition of tall, dark, and handsome, and yet, somehow, he never seems to allow even a recognition of his physical appearance to manifest onscreen in his manner, let alone ever give off a whiff of typical macho/preening/smug attitude. And that's not vapidity, as many of his detractors would try to say. Plenty of vacant people still recognize -- and wallow in -- their own good looks. But instead of narcissism, he, particularly as Jack Travers, absolutely drips approachability. Which is perhaps why I put him, and not Nic Cage, on my to-do list to be kissed.