The premise for the movie “How to be a Man” is intriguing… The main character (Mark McCarthy)was dying, therefore he decided to make a series of home movies for his unborn son, in order that his boy would learn (especially during critical times of development) what it would mean to be a man.
Through out the process Mark befriends an impressionable, and somewhat lost, fatherless, early 20 something year old (named Bryan) who participates as his sidekick and videographer of his antics -and I do mean antics!
Well, you can’t deny that the “How to Be a Man” movie is a “guy movie”… the main character is just not a “Genesis Man”.
If we were to compare Mark to the Genesis 2 definition of manhood and masculinity (which uses Adam as our example), there would be a few things to say.
First of all the main character displays no sense of moral responsibility. He was unfaithful to his wife, (as I recall, he asked the question, “If you don’t remember being unfaithful, is it still cheating?) He used heroin and cocaine; he swore constantly and was overall fairly crass.
There was no apparent sense of family responsibility, positive relationsips and wisdom. Even with the understanding that his wife was pregnant, he follows his absurd impulses and quits his job. (Would you believe me if I told you that he quit over a disagreement regarding flatus?)
To be fair, he did, however, displayed a sense of mentorship by taking another young man under his wing to help him understand manhood… but Mark’s lessons were questionable at best.
There was no authentic declaration. He didn’t speak words of life into his wife. He cultivated a poor relationship with her. He spoke his own weakness and he spoke his own selfishness. Did he speak into the life of the young man he was mentoring? Kind of. Maybe. (We’ll explore that later.)
So, the million dollar question is, ‘What did he teach about being a man?’ He taught that a man stands on his word and follows his heart. Sounds good but, the whole lesson about his “word” was played out in the most ridiculous of circumstances. In order to prove to Bryan that he wasn’t lying about taking heroin in his youth, he seeks help from an old friend (a recovering drugatic -and incidentally manages to derail his sobriety) to help him get some heroin, and Mark not only uses drugs, but gets Bryan to as well.
He had no job and no purpose (as I could see). Granted, he was a good comedian…
Yes he followed his heart, and dreams but to what extent? Reckless irresponsibility? (Comedy doesn’t pay the bills. Would you quit your job with a child on the way to follow your dream?)
Seriously, the movie was a really bad example of everything, but nevertheless …it was an example of something. He can’t be charged with lethargy.
Upon further reflection, the movie’s portrayal of women were quite unsettling.
The women in the movie were unconnected to the needs of men. They were overbearing and uncaring. (Mark’s wife was the poster child of these qualities.)
Bryan’s mother was also overbearing, and failed at producing a young man with drive and life…he was a “still born man”.
The other female character was rather incidental, and portrayed as nothing more than a sexual experience that used the main character for drugs, and was a target for Mark’s words, lines, and masculine manipulations.
This definitely is the “What not to wear” of pro-masculine movies. It may be about “How to be a man,” but it’s not about how to be a “Genesis Man”. I know, I know, I’ve spent more time being critical about a movie not many people saw, and probably won’t see, and maybe it was intended to be nothing more than a silly film… but at the very least it shines as a commentary of our modern times and an educational experience that must not be ignored.
This movie gets a “C” for trying and an “F” for showing “How to be a man.” I suppose that averages to something like a “D”.
If you want to see a good movie about being a man, watch the James J. Braddock story called “Cinderella Man” starring Russel Crowe. (Who knows, maybe we’ll explore that at another time.)