Many actors are criticized for type-casting (Jason Statham always plays a buff hitman, Mads Mikkelsen always plays a creepy bad guy and Jennifer Aniston always plays Jennifer Aniston), but we often don't notice when actors tell the same stories again and again.
If you think Christopher Nolan's propensity for dead wives is strange, then check out Leo's film history. In 2010, he did two blockbusters, Inception and Shutter Island, in which he played a husband terrorized by his wife's insanity. Neither movie was a compelling portrait of marriage, to put it lightly. The same year, Leo also starred in a drama about marriage, Revolutionary Road, which had a very different tone than the two thrillers, but featured another ole mentally ill ball-and-chain.
Major spoilers ahead: Leonardo DiCaprio plays a mental patient pretending to be a cop. Because Ben Kingsley said it would make him better, and if the guy who played Gandhi told you to pretend to be a cop, you know you would, too.
The most disturbing revelation in the movie is that Leo went crazy because his wife drowned their children. Actually, the more disturbing relevation is that Leo's fake police officer name is just an anagram of his real name. Because that's what the mentally ill do. Scramble up the letters in their name to carefully construct a new name. Instead of making up a completely different name. Something fun, like Marflin McPeepers.
Leonardo's wife in Inception is dead. Before she was dead, though, she was very crazy. But her idea of date night was lying down on train tracks so how did he not see this one coming?
This movie takes place in the idyllic 1950s. Does that protect Leo from a hellish marriage? Nope! Suburbia eats away at this couple's sanity, and, no surprises here, Leo's wife ends up trying to murder one of their kids. Maybe this is what would have happened if Rose and Jack had survived the Titanic.
There can only be one explanation for this pattern: Leo is trying to inception us all to never ever ever get married. Because he knows as soon as we get married, Christopher Nolan's gonna kill our wives!
In Superman Returns, X-Men and The Notebook, James plays the perfectly adequate romantic partner who gets passed over for the hero. He always handles it well, even though he's been dumped for a man who is objectively better in every way. I mean: Wolverine. Superman. RYAN GOSLING. It's just not fair.
James Marsden's character, Richard, steps in when Superman abandons Lois Lane. In Superman's absence, Richard proposes to Lois and serves as a father figure to her son, but when the Man of Steel comes back, Richard is tossed aside. This is especially sad considering Richard helps Superman rescue Lois from Lex Luthor, which is incredibly brave of Richard since he's just an ordinary dude and Lex Luthor's a supervillain.
But how can you compete against an alien with superhuman abilities, one of which is the inexplicable ability to procreate across species?
James Marsden can't use his lack of superpowers as an excuse this time because he plays the mutant Cyclops. His powers are incredibly destructive eyes. Meaning he has to wear sunglasses all the time -- even indoors like a super-douche. His romantic rival, Wolverine, has the powers of super-strength and indestructibility and killer sideburns.
Guess who Jean Grey chooses. (Sorry, Cyclops, I'm gonna guess it had something to do with the sunglasses-on-even-during-sex thing.)
If you've seen this movie -- which you have don't even try to deny it (unless you have Alzheimer's and you forgot it but hey, it's okay because your soulmate will recount the entire thing for you) -- you know that the most heart-breaking part of the story is that Rachel McAdams is forced to choose between her amazing fiancee, James Marsden, and the love of her life, Ryan Gosling. It's so heart-breaking because she nearly knocks Marsden over when she runs out the door after Gosling.
So what is the logical role for the actor who always comes in second? He plays Liz Lemon's soulmate on 30 Rock! He plays a man who finds someone who loves him even though he isn't a specimen of genetic perfection.
It seems James Marsden believes in finding beauty and happiness in imperfection, and that's awesome.
You might remember Rachel McAdams from her rejecting James Marsden. But there's more to her cinematic career than that. Rachel McAdams has starred in three movies in four years in which she played the romantic partner of a time-travelin' man. Like, a ramblin' man. But with time travel.
Rachel McAdams plays a time traveler's wife in the movie whose straight-forward title puts it in the same category as Hot Tub Time Machine. The movie's central conflict is how Rachel's character deals with loving a man who appears and disappears throughout her life without warning. While she experiences their relationship linearly, he jumps around, having sex with her and then meeting their daughter and then meeting her as a young girl.
What do you say to the younger version of your wife: "Hi, it's nice to meet you, I will have sex with you one day. What's sex, you ask? Uhhhh, nevermind, byeeee!"
Rachel McAdams plays the girlfriend of a time traveler once again, but this time she doesn't struggle to cope with his time traveling ways. She doesn't mind his time traveling because she's too busy cheating on him. Oops, spoiler! Wow, never thought I'd do a spoiler warning on Dorkly for a Woody Allen movie.
At this point, Rachel McAdams has made it clear she has a type: she wants a man who can defy the laws of the universe, okay? Is that too much to ask? Rachel McAdams is once again wooed by a time traveler. He isn't very suave, but he doesn't have to be because he has infinite number of chances to seduce her.
Rachel, we get it. We all want to travel back in time to the early 2000's when Ryan Gosling and you were in love, so we totally understand your obsession with time travel.
Speaking of time travel, Bruce Willis keeps traveling back to the same time: when he was younger. Willis has appeared in several movies where he meets his younger self.
Bruce Willis is an image consultant, which is a fancy job that I thought only existed in Shonda Rhimes shows. The irony is Willis helps others better their image, but he never takes a good, hard look at himself. The moment he decides to reflect on what a shithead he is, some ambiguous, convenient magic happens and he comes face to face with his 8 year old self.
For some reason, meeting his younger self makes Willis realize what an asshat he's been. Meanwhile, the negative feedback he's received from friends and co-workers for years has had literally no impact.
Bruce Willis is not an image consultant but a convict-turned-time traveler, which is a much more plausible career. He's sent back in time to prevent a dangerous virus outbreak and to hang out with a handsome, charming maniac (Brad Pitt doing what he does best). Throughout the movie, Willis remembers that when he was a young boy, he saw a man shot to death in an airport. The movie closes with Willis running through an airport and sacrificing his life to try to stop the virus as his younger self looks on, completing the time loop, meaning that nothing has changed and the virus is still gonna kill everyone. But, hey, at least he gets to look Jimmy Buffett-cool as he bleeds to death in a Hawaiian shirt and handlebar mustache.
Bruce Willis's younger self is just not impressed with this airport gunfight. He's seen better airport gunfights before.
When Bruce Willis meets his younger self in Looper, what he should have said was, "Not you again." Willis ends up reuniting again with his younger self because of another implausible career: hitman/time traveler or "looper." Future criminals come up with a brilliant scheme: if you want someone to disappear, send them back in time to be assassinated by a looper. Being a looper is a sweet gig except each looper must assassinate his future self, closing the loop. The only person who escapes this fate? Ole B.W., of course.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's amazing performance as younger Bruce Willis puts all the previous child actors who played younger Bruce Willis to shame. Those child actors were amateurs.
I think it's safe to assume that Bruce Willis can't let go of his youth. He keeps doing the kind of action movies he did in his twenties and thirties, and he keeps shaving his head. And who has hairless heads? Babies. You guys, Bruce Willis wants to be a baby. Don't believe me? He voiced the baby in Look Who's Talking! I can't wait to see Bruce Willis's next blockbuster: A Good Day to Diaper Hard.
Leslie Mann's husband, Judd Apatow, is known for writing potty-mouthed characters, but based on her film career, it's Leslie who's obsessed with potties.
After her sister accidentally becomes pregnant, Leslie Mann's character, in an effort to express solidarity, takes a pregnancy test. This was the first time film captured Leslie Mann sitting on the toilet and little did we know, it would not be the last.
The movie's premise is like Freaky Friday except slightly less disturbing because a daughter doesn't inhabit the body that birthed her: Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman swap bodies after peeing into a public fountain together (the classic bonding ritual of bros everywhere). Instead of letting all their friends and family know that magic is real and the universal laws of reality are wrong, they decide to temporarily live as each other. That terrible decision leads to this memorable moment, captured in the movie's trailer, in which body-swapped Ryan Reynolds watches his best friend's wife experience what I like to call the Running of the Bowels.
This movie is more of a montage than a traditional plot-driven flick. But it's not one of those happy montages set to good music. It's one of those depressing montages that show how growing older and getting married and having kids and pretty much everything is really awful, as demonstrated by this scene when Leslie Mann corners her husband in the bathroom and accuses him of pooping to escape family time.
Leslie Mann's potty-centric scenes are often used to demonstrate how marriage affects the romance in a relationship. What I think it demonstrates is Mann's in a romantic relationship with a toilet. Or she just thinks toilets are really, really funny. Which they are.