Here we present our top 10 modern rom-com underdog heroes. First, though, a few rules to define our underdogs...
THEY MUST NOT LOOK LIKE:
a) Matthew McConaughey
b) Brad Pitt
c) Johnny Depp
d) anybody who looks like any of the above...or Rob Lowe or Tom Cruise for that matter
e) be genuinely decent...human, flawed, sure...but bottom line, genuinely decent
f) be the guy who traditionally would not get the girl
g) actually make us believe maybe they won't get the girl
h) at the end make us feel to the bottom of our core, all may be and can be right in the world
On to the list!
By Chuck Walton
#10 - Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer
Don't let the '80s mullet fool you. If you're wondering why Adam Sandler always seems to score beauties out of his league, check him out here as wedding singer Robbie Hart. He's a much better suitor for world-class cutie waitress Drew Barrymore than her jerko junk bond yuppie beau. He can pen a funny tune, knows all the great '80s pop songs, and he even has Billy Idol on his side.
#9 - Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump
Lots of funny--and historical--stuff happens to Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump over the course of this decades-long journey. But the throughline for our underdog hero is his relationship with the troubled, beautiful Jenny (Robin Wright Penn). We see it the whole time, but it's most gratifying to finally see her acknowledge what she's got in our man Gump.
#8 - Steve Carell in The 40-Year Old Virgin
Make fun of him all you want, but by film's end, who's not rooting for Steve Carell's Asia-loving, egg sandwich-making, toy figure-playing 40-year-old to finally find some happiness with the opposite sex? Admit it. We've all got an inner geek who loves to listen to Asia. Or Toto.
#7 - Paul Giamatti in Sideways
Paul Giamatti's wannabe author Miles Raymond is more than a little rough around the edges. But at heart, he's a genuine guy with levels of depth, who knows his wine and--unlike his womanizing buddy--understands that it's not a good idea to be shagging and deceiving girls the week before your wedding. At the end, we hope that Miles will find some peace and comfort with lovely Virginia Madsen.
#6 - Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire
Yes, Slumdog Millionaire is not exactly a traditional rom com. But, it does have some funny stuff in it, and it's certainly the love story that's most affecting. Dev Patel may not look like boyfriend material for the stunning Freida Pinto, but for all who've seen this Best Picture, you know exactly why his character--who overcomes incredible odds--deserves her.
#5 - Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles
Girls love Molly Ringwald's ultimate Sixteen Candles crush, Michael Schoefling. But us normal guys hope they also give some props to the classic eternal "geek" Anthony Michael Hall. After all, despite his shenanigans, he did have a genuine heart to heart with Molly in the shop room, and told Schoefling straight up, hey, mess with Molly's heart, and I'm coming after you.
#4 - Michael Cera in Juno
Best Cera moment in Juno...Ellen Page's Juno tells him he's the coolest guy and he doesn't even have to try. Cera's response..."Actually, I try really hard." Such a moment of hilarious, but honest admission says everything about this top dog underdog.
#3 - Wall-E
His vocab might not be the best, but no robot in movie history has a greater heart than our boy, er, bot Wall-E. We love that he'll do anything for his "Eve-ah," and much like his buddy E.T. before him, we're sure we could learn a few good things from our otherworldy friends.
#2 - Steve Martin in Roxanne
While Rick Rossovich's uber fireman is the first thing that catches Daryl Hannah's eye in Roxanne, we're praying she'll see the qualities in Steve Martin's modest and ever-optimistic fire chief C.D. Bales (Cyrano De who?).
#1 - John Cusack in Say Anything...
The movie's tag line said it all. "To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Diane Court is about to know Lloyd Dobler." For all of us Fishbone-loving, boom box-carrying, aloof teens of the '80s and beyond, it was and is a sure sign from the cinema heavens...there is hope for us underdogs, and for great underdog rom coms.