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Friday Night at the (Video Store) Fights

May 17, 1999|BOOTH MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Who has not spent hours in the video store suggesting movie rentals only to have them shot down by a snarling mate? "He Rents, She Rents" (St. Martins Press) is a new book that may offer some guidance, or at least some explanation, for why men and women like different movies.

Written by Chicago Sun Times columnist Richard Roeper and L.A.-based screenwriter-story analyst Laurie Viera, the book is a guide to the 50 best chick flicks and coolest guy movies. Each review includes a brief summary, as well as Roeper's ratings based on drinking, fights, nudity, car chases, gunplay, male bonding and explosions, and Viera's ratings based on romance, smart-talking women, heartthrob men, great clothes and tears.

"He Rents, She Rents" is written in a wonderfully witty style with sidebars on subjects such as Guy-Movie Frauds, Top 10 Naked Babe Moments, Killer Scenes and more. We sat down with the authors to find out more about their gender-specific film favorites.

Question: What are some telltale signs you are watching a guy movie?

Roeper: If there's a gratuitous scene in a strip bar, that's a guy movie. They could go anywhere for the conversation, but they always go to the strip bar. If a woman gets thrown against a wall in the office and has her shirt ripped off and responds by being turned on and not filing a sexual harassment suit, that would be a guy movie.

Q: How do you know you are watching a woman's film?

Viera: If a movie has credits that look like handwritten wedding invitations, that's a woman's movie, or if there's a scene where a woman is crying while brushing her hair and looking in the mirror. Women's films also have strong women characters. They are often about women who come into their power. And there has to be at least one male character in the movie you could imagine yourself having lunch with. If you could imagine yourself kissing him, that's good, too.

Q: What strategies do you use to get around the guy-gal rental dilemma?

Viera: Luckily, my husband is more open than most men. I'll always want to watch a Jane Austen adaptation, and he wants to watch a western. I'll never watch that, except maybe "High Noon." But if I go to the video store and feel like doing something nice for him, I'll pick up an action film. Not Arnold. Well, maybe "Total Recall." It's more of a science fiction film.

Roeper: Here's my trick. I always say to my date, "I'll pick up the movie," because it's such a gentlemanly thing to do. I'll come over with "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "Armageddon." (And I know she's already seen "My Best Friend's Wedding" because I took her to see it a year ago.) She'll say "I already saw 'My Best Friend's Wedding.' I saw it with you!" I'll say, "Oh, that's right! Well, let's try 'Armageddon' then. I think it's a love story with Ben Affleck. You liked him from 'Good Will Hunting.' " It won't work with a guy because he would say, "I've seen the 'Godfather' 15 times, but that's OK, honey, put it in again!" Guys are morons. They would watch the same movie a million times.

Q: What are your top three favorite movies?

Roeper: The guy movie of all time is "Godfather." I mean the first two, not the one with Coppola's daughter and George Hamilton flouncing around. Guys recite lines from that and get a lot of their philosophy of life from that movie. Then comes "Caddyshack." Any guy over the age of 15 can quote that movie more than any other movie, or anything by that Shakespeare guy. Then comes "The Magnificent Seven." The only women in that movie are getting saved.

Viera: "All About Eve" because it is about the best and the worst in women. It's about women who are double-crossing, untrustworthy, have false humility, the kind of women other women can spot a mile away but men get fooled by. I love "When Harry Met Sally . . ." because it is about men and women being friends and becoming lovers. That's how the best relationships come about. And recently, I really liked "Next Stop Wonderland," which is about fate and destiny and love--but without all the saccharin.

Q: So are there any movies to rent that my boyfriend and I can watch together?

Viera: There are a few movies men and women both like to watch, but men and women are so different, it's a miracle we get together at all. This book is about having fun with our differences.

Roeper: The only answer is for all relationships to have two TVs and two VCRs. No one ever says, "Why can't men and women wear the same shoes?" unless you are talking about a Dustin Hoffman movie from the early 1980s. There are a couple of styles you could try if you are exploring that other side of yourself, but by and large you keep to your own shoes. Same thing with movies.

Booth Moore can be reached by e-mail at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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