Friday, September 14, 2012

My Top 14: Gerard Butler Movies

So you want to watch a Gerard Butler movie.

And why wouldn't you? The man is a feast for the eyes!

But there's one little problem... ol' Gerry has a lot of movies to his credit. And some of them aren't worth your time. They're not even worth the time for the folks at Netflix to ship them to you. Or for the mailman to open the door of your mailbox. Really, not even that.

So here is a guide to help you decide which Gerard Butler movies are worth a viewing, and which are best swept under the rug. I've chosen my 14 favorite. 

And here we go.

Reign Of Fire 

Reign Of Fire stars a young, mopsy-haired, Scottish-drawling Gerard alongside Christian Bale (pre-Batman, but still made of awesome) and Matthew McConaughey (who kind of looks like he's made out of of play-dough). They're in a post-apocalyptic drama about the eternal struggle against the world's most ferocious of beasts: dragons. Yeah. Dragons. Those fire-breathing reptilian things. And while certain things about this movie are cool -- the action scenes, Christian Bale's acting -- even more things are just a bit crazy. It's certainly good enough for one viewing, just don't expect anything great. Unless you happen to especially enjoy post-apocalyptic dramas about dragons. Then -- yeah, okay.

The Ugly Truth

There's something a bit disconcerting about Gerard playing an American. I mean, he may be a crackerjack actor, but when it comes to accents, he can do Scottish, Irish, and a sort of neutral, well-this-might-be-what-the-Huns-sounded-like lilt fairly convincingly. However, his American accent just sounds a bit... strange... like broken Scottish. And broken Scottish is no good. Anyway, this film is your average, love/hate-relationship-leads-to-something-more romcom -- but as it is miles, miles better than Gerard's other semi-famous romantic comedy (that being The Bounty Hunter) it makes this list on pure principle. It's a bit raunchy (so don't watch it with your grandmother -- although why you would...) and don't anticipate dying of laughter, or even coming close to laughing more than about three times.


This... is... the film that really put Gerard in the public eye. He was the star, the guy who got to kick a guy into a pit and yell: "This! Is! Sparta!" (a complete breakfast!) Not only that, but he got to rock a badass beard throughout. So the whole thing's kind of violent -- heads getting lobbed off here, there & everywhere -- but at least the blood looks somewhat cartoony. You'll probably walk away from a first viewing pumping your fist and going "Yeah!" with a kind of carnal grunt. Second viewing... it loses something. Third... this movie's kind of a bore. And (spoiler alert), 299 of the 300 soldiers die. So you can guess Gerard's odds of survival. They ain't good.


Haha, "Braveheart with a 21st Century Twist." What? WHAT? That's a joke, right? They didn't mean to type Braveheart. Maybe the Brave Little Toaster? The movie, I'm sorry to say, is a bit of a mess. It's got a promising premise -- time travel! the middle ages! -- but there's just too much going on and the movie's a series of one bad thing happening after another. HOWEVER, Gerard gets to use his Scottish accent, and his scenes make me melt. So really, parts of it are redeemable. Grab your remote and speed through the boring parts to get to his scenes and you'll get your rental's worth out of it. Oh, and I guess the time travel stuff is kinda cool.

Beowulf & Grendel 

Two movies about Beowulf were made around the same time. There was the Robert Zemeckis one where everything was done with motion-capture and had Angelina Jolie running around in there somewhere, and then there was the Gerard Butler movie. Take your pick. I know! I know! DUH. Okay, I used to be a HUGE Robert Z. fan, but when you put those two movies together, this one takes the cake. It's not phenomenal, but at least it's better. As a bonus, it also features Sarah Polley, who ought to be (in a perfect world) ten times more famous than Angelina Jolie, but whatever. If you just HAVE to see a Beowulf movie (you know, to avoid actually reading it) go with the Gerry one. Watch out for people's arms getting hacked off, though. That's just Beowulf for you.

Law Abiding Citizen 

So the first thing I need to mention about Law Abiding Citizen is this: in the past year, I have randomly overheard two separate conversations among middle-aged women regarding Gerard Butler. And in both convos, I heard a variation of: "Gerard Butler! I love him! Law Abiding Citizen, oooh lala!" And I was surprised because, really? Why this movie? But I guess it holds some appeal to certain folk. Me? Well, it's definitely put together well. It's a fun, action-packed, cat & mouse-type romp, sort of akin to The Fugitive... if, you know, The Fugitive had Harrison Ford deciding to stop trying to find his wife's killer and instead go utterly psycho and brutally murder a bunch of people. You can perhaps understand how it might be difficult to root for the guy. Here it is the same. And there are a couple of really disturbing scenes. But... still... I can see why the ladies like it. Gerard is pretty awesome. Gross... but awesome.

P.S. I Love You

This is the story of a woman (played by Hilary Swank) who loses her husband (guess who) and is very sad, but fortunately, said husband knew he was going to die and had arranged to send Hilary all kinds of letters and surprises post-mortem. P.S. requires a bit of viewer patience -- and don't forget the Kleenex, because it's a bit of a tearjerker, too. Still, just when the film begins to teeter on the edge of "ugh, stop" you get Gerry, in Ireland, singing his precious heart out. And it's adorable. So I dig it. 


I really never expected to like a movie about sex, drugs, rock & roll, and crime. But this dark comedy is a fun, wild ride. Gerard's character, One-Two, is funny, handsome, clueless, and brilliant. I really enjoyed the way the story was told, too. Sometimes things would play out in the present tense, where the characters might be doing something on Monday. Next thing we know, it's Wednesday, and the characters get into a conversation and suddenly we're flashing back to Tuesday. And while parts may be kind of kooky and uncomfortable, it's rarely boring. Plus it has the hot middle brother from Prince Of Persia in it. So yeah. Bonus.

The Phantom Of The Opera

Every Gerry fan should see this movie, if only for one reason: he sings! A lot! He's also quite badass and evil (or is tormented? A victim? You decide!) The one major flaw? You only ever get to see half of his face! Shyeah... even when Christine (spoiler alert!) pulls off his mask, all you see is his deformed-ness. So... you get the singing, but you don't get the hotness. And tormented victim or no, the Phantom is kind of a jerk.

Mrs. Brown

So. The reasons I think Mrs. Brown should be on the must-see Gerard Butler film list are as follows:

1. It was one of the first, if not the first, movie he ever did, so he's super young.
2. His role is huge! He plays the brother of the main guy.
3. Scottish accent.
4. Seabathing scene. (If you don't mind also having to look at a 55-year-old Billy Connolly).
5. It's actually a good movie!

Yeah, it's a historical dramance. It's about Queen Victoria. It's not everyone's cup of tea. But even if you can't get into it, you can totally get into the Gerry scenes, which, I am pleased to report, are some of the best, acting-wise, of his career. What a way to start out, huh?

Nim's Island

Okay, so what we've got here is a movie that's mostly about Abigail Breslin's character (Nim) defending her territory, and Jodie Foster's character (she-Alex) overcoming her OCD-driven fears. Then there's Gerry, who plays Nim's dad and Alex's alter ego (he-Alex). So you get to see 2x the Gerard fun; you get to witness him acting all fatherly and nerdy, and then see him as an action hero in she-Alex's wildest fantasies. SO. Add it all together and it makes for a pretty good amount of eye candy, and the movie's not half bad either. Plus, this is one of the few you can safely watch with kids. 

How To Train Your Dragon 

This movie's nuts because Gerry does the voice of this huge, beefy, red-headed viking who for some reason has a Scottish accent. His character is kind of a jerk at first but turns out all right in the end. The reason this film makes #3 is because it's actually really well-animated, well-written, and... shoot, just well-made! Plus it's funny without having to rely on bathroom humor or a bunch of whizzing-over-the-kids'-heads adult jokes. And for a non-Pixar movie, in this day and age, that's mighty impressive. So way to go, movie! 


Attila earns two distinctions on this list. One, it's the first Gerry movie I ever saw. Second, it's probably the one I've seen the most times. I kept renting it from Netflix, accidentally cracked the DVD, had to pay for that... then just went out and bought my own copy. Attila was actually a TV miniseries back in 2001, and it's pretty dang epic. Gerard plays Attila the Hun, and he's just about the most badass thing since... well... Indiana Jones? Jason Bourne? I was going to say Russell Crowe, but no, Russell's never quite achieved ultimate badassery. Keep trying, amigo. Naw, but Gerard is just fantastic in this. Press your finger over the fastforward button whenever Tim Curry comes on the screen and you should be fine.

Dear Frankie

And so we come to the best of all the Gerard Butler movies. It's not an action flick, it's not a romcom, and it's not a kids' movie, so what is it? It's a love story. And a drama. And it's funny and charming and sweet and sad and just really cool. Gerry doesn't show up till quite a ways in, but don't skip any scenes. If this movie doesn't make you feel something, then I don't know what to say except work your way back up to the top of the list, watch 300 three hundred times, and call me in the morning. At which point I kick you in the face. Over the phone.

I would explain the plot, but I don't want to ruin it, so just go rent it. Now.

* * *

So that's the top 14. But he's made a lot more movies than fourteen! you say. Yes, yes. Well, I've already mentioned The Bounty Hunter (terrible). There's also The Cherry Orchard (a major drag), Dracula 2000 (sooo cheesy... but lots of Gerry!), The Game Of Their Lives/The Miracle Match (tolerable, but he's barely in it), Harrison's Flowers (ditto), Lara Craft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life (more like CRADLE OF DEATH, ya jerks), Machine Gun Preacher (one of the only ones I have not seen -- too violent), Coriolanus (couldn't get through it), One More Kiss (dreadful), and Tomorrow Never Dies (never seen it.)

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