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Ryan Renolds in a bearded battle. I am, as they say, having a Ryan Reynolds moment. I can’t seem to escape the commercials for his new McConaughey romcom toss off flick, Definitely, Maybe, TNT is apparently on a mission to convince me that Blade: Trinity didn’t suck scissors, a group of friends of mine have become cult leaders of the Smokin Aces RULEZ fan club (more on this later…), and just last night while trolling my geek movie sites, I came across the trailer to Van Wilder’s upcoming dramedy, Chaos Theory.

Ryan Renolds in Chaos Theory.

I was midway through the - right after Sarah Chalke got down to her skivvies and I instantly forgave her for the last two seasons of Scrubs, and right before Ryan said “crappy” about eleventy-billion times to some sad sack Asian guy – when I realized something profound: Ryan Reynolds is a hell of a lot more fun when he’s rocking a beard. Even though his most successful movies have come with him being fresh-faced, his kick-assitude levels skyrocket when he tip-toes the sartorial line (though I tend to like his beard/non-beard movies themselves, equally). Like Chuck Norris and Robin Williams before him, Reynolds turns hardcore whenever he ditches the bic. To quote a wise champion arm wrestler: “When I [stop shaving] it’s like I become a machine. ” And Stallone would know. When he needed to lay a beatdown on Drago to avenge the death of Apollo (cause no one told Drago it was a god damn exhibition!), he unleashed the might of the training montage beard and the result was the greatest piece of workout motivation awesomeness since Schwarzenegger made Lou Ferrigno cry with his Front Lat Spread in Pumping Iron. And if you don’t believe me, I dare you to watch this clip and not immediately start air boxing: I got so worked up watching that I did fifty pushups and then awkwardly ran on the beach with my best friend while wearing dolphin shorts. But back to Ryan Reynolds… The unspoken rule in Hollywood is that leading men only wear a beard if they’re playing a bad guy or a rebel (or in the case of Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, you just happen to need a beard shaving scene in the second act so you can FIND THAT MAN!). Beards are used to indicate rage, despair, intensity (Ryan Gosling’s meal ticket) or in the case of Paul Giamatti, extreme sad bastard nebbish-ness. (The only true exception to this rule is Robert Downey Jr. , who can get away with any hair combination he wants in any movie he does ever. Why? Cause he’s RoDoJu, bitch! Respect. ) But leading man beards just don’t translate into comedy. For example, Gerard Butler pwned the Persians in 300 whilst wearing a ZZ Top beard, yet when it came time to woo Hilary Swank in P. S. I Love you (vomit), the beard was gone (and so were his testicles). The only time a leading man can rock a beard (or goatee) in a comedy and get away with it, is if it’s being used ironically. See: Sandler, Adam in You Don’t Mess With Zohan. But there Ryan was in the Chaos Theory trailer, being funny AND tagging Eliot Reed, all the while not ever bothering to shave. It’s like he’s rewriting the codes for Beard Cinema! Soon Vin Diesel will be crackin wise and killin bitches behind a full-on chin blanket. Brad Pitt may never shave again! Ryan Renolds in a bearded battle. In an effort to fully wrap my head around this Ryan Reynolds Razor Revolution, I went to determine whether or not he has kicked more ass bearded or clean-shaven. Here’s what I found out: Van Wilder - Ryan’s hilarious breakthrough comedy, which only gets funnier after having watched it 412 times on Comedy Central. Ryan gets bonus points for coining such sweet catchphrases as “Write that down”, “Are you stalking me? Cause that would be super” and “Crazy kids with their crazy… VD”. Though he gets a major deduction for the involvement of Tara Reid, even if it was when she was still reputable. The fresh face thing isn’t an issue here; in fact, the beard would have done him a disservice (bearded college guys are either skeevy stoners or boring Lit profs who bang their [] grad students). Like I said, beards don’t translate in comedies. Blade: Trinity – Bearded, utterly friggin yoked out beyond belief and launchin’ legit wit barbs at an increasingly annoyed Wesley Snipes, Ryan officially puts his name down as a “Bearded One To Watch”. His beard rocked the double guns, made me laugh and kept me from thinking about how manly Jessica Biel looked in the flick. No easy task. Would he have been as awesome without a beard? Well, anybody looks cool holding two guns in the air, but I’m thinking without the beard we all just wonder why Van Wilder quit college to go be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Amityville Horror – Still crazy-juiced and rocking an even bushier beard, Ryan goes the full drama route in this dark thriller. I didn’t much care for the flick, but I always like seeing actors go crazy while holding an axe (Though it’s important to note that Jack Nicholson perfected that bit in The Shining and he was clean shaven. ). Did Ryan need the beard to pull off the perf? I’m thinking yes. I just don’t take him seriously onscreen when he’s hairless. Which may be the whole point of this… Ryan Renolds in Smokin' Aces. Waiting… - Ryan is coasting here; aside from his Buffalo Bill tuck scene, I was bored by him. The only thing worth watching here is Anna Faris playing the most ridiculously cute waitress this side of Keri Russell and Emmanuelle Chriqui look lost and hot while wondering when her check is gonna clear so she can go back to rolling her eyes at the antics of Vincent Chase. Just Friends – His first big role back from the beard and he’s playing a complete wuss. Coincidence? I think not. Where before he was wielding weapons and spittin’ hot fire, here he’s playing doofy, awkward and competing for a girl against Chris Klein (Chris Klein!). His Blade Trinity character would have sliced the skeez out of Katie Holmes’s greaser ex in a matter of seconds! Amy Smart is a worthy chase, but the only reason she’s not picking Ryan before the end of act one is because he’s beardless. Smokin’ Aces – The Reynolds beard makes a welcome and triumphant return in this dumb, frenetic, yet highly enjoyable action flick. Ryan steps off the comedic gas and sticks to being intense and action-y, but I’m straight with it. Ryan has some cool kills in the flick, and why should he bother being funny when Jason Bateman and Jeremy Piven are doing all the work. Could he have pulled off this role sans beard? I say no. I can’t move on from this flick without paying homage to what might be the most insanely funny scene ever committed to celluloid. Peep Ben Affleck trying and failing miserably to keep a straight face. Definitely, Maybe – Don’t let his clean-shaven nailing off Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Banks fool you into thinking he’s a badass, he’s definitely playing a lame drip here. Hell, the whole movie reeks of PG-drippiness. Not sure why Ryan gave up the slick action roles to play a bland, lifeless, romcom lead, but my guess is it was the prospect of him getting to fool around with Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Banks. Because it’s a romcom he is forced to go beardless, and I must say I disprove of the choice. He has a Leonardo DiCaprio face, very young looking without facial hair. even at 32 he looks like he could be rachel weisz’s kid (and yet, oddly, at the same time looks like he could be isla fisher’s dad). Final Decision: Ryan Reynolds is better bearded, but it’s a contextual thing. When he’s doing anything but wooing dewy-eyed IT girls, he absolutely MUST be bearded. When he’s doing the schmoopy business, it’s clean shaven station (but fine, I guess). On which one is better, well, let’s put it this way: either fresh faced or scruffy, Ryan Reynolds will always be funny. But slap a beard on him and the chances of shit getting blown up , random boob shots, dudes shooting guns in slo mo and general badassery (all the things you want in a movie) go way, WAY up! Bearded Bangarang! (Follow me on Twitter @)


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