Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reno 911!

Over the past few years, Jean Reno has replaced Gérard Depardieu as the embodiment of a certain kind of French maleness in Hollywood, so much so that in the new DreamWorks/Aardman feature, Flushed Away, he voices a character named Le Frog.

When Hollywood needs a Gaul, Reno dutifully punches in his time card—except that unlike Depardieu and earlier imports such as Charles Boyer, his characters aren't sexual. I think it all started in ’95 with the horrid Meg Ryan/Kevin Kline vehicle French Kiss, in which Reno played an inspector. Then he was a French secret agent in Godzilla, a French cop in The Pink Panther and The Da Vinci Code, a French Airforce pilot in Flyboys. Lots of manly-man stuff—albeit sometimes of the bumbling kind—but not much traditional sex-ay action. Interestingly, the disappearance of the sexy French stud from American movies (except for Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful I guess) has corresponded with the years in which France has become the symbol of fey European weakness for a lot of red staters Gone are the days of Le Shaggeur, welcome to Le Frog.

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