Next Friday, when the Wachowski’s long-delayed space opera Jupiter Ascending comes crashing into theatres, another chapter in horrible men’s grooming in movies will have been written. Like anyone whose ever had to say “Nice chin strap bro!”, I know awkward grooming when I see it, and Channing Tatum’s bleached facial hair easily qualifies. Originally slated for a release last summer, Ascending was reportedly held back to complete special effects work, yet no one had time to fix Tatum’s hair. Because of it, he looks more like a young Guy Fieri than an intergalactic bounty hunter. In honor of this questionable decision, here’s a look at some other leading men who set the precedent for bad onscreen hair days.
John Travolta in Battlefield Earth This is famously one of the biggest cinematic trainwrecks of all time, bankrupting the production company responsible for it and nearly derailing John Travolta’s career. Set in a future where an alien race/drum circle group called the Psyclos enslave the human race and employ them as gold miners, this adaptation of Scientology found L. Ron Hubbard’s sci-fi novel sees Travolta as the villainous Terl, an alien security officer in charge of earth. Sporting dreadlocks more tangled and convoluted than this film’s plot, Travolta looked more like a stinky Australian backpacker during his third year abroad than the oppressor of the human race. “Hey mate do you know where I could root any earth girls?”
Gary Oldman in The Fifth Element If you want to predict the future, look into the past. A wise bottle of Fruitopia once told me this, and an easy way to establish a futuristic setting in any film is to pepper it with a mixed bag of retro trends. In Luc Besson’s space opera he chose to give the emo goth look a cybernetic second chance in the form of Gary Oldman’s villain, Mr. Zorg. Sporting a straightened combover and Skrillex side shave, Mr. Zorg appears to have leapt to life from a tumblr of bad tindr profile pics. That’s one of the famous pratfalls of being a bad guy though; everyone’s too sacred to tell you how shitty your hair looks. But by far the most distressing part of this dystopian future is that soul patches have somehow remained in style.
Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code The brilliance of Tom Hanks is that he almost always just plays Tom Hanks in his movies. With his signature curls and soul-warming chuckle, he needn’t do more than show up and eat a Twix to give the performance of the year. So when he departed this winning formula to grow out the long, shiny comb-back hair of Harvard professor Robert Langdon, I really felt it. He suddenly morphed into every divorced man you’ve seen reading those Dan Brown novels on an airplane who nudges you creepily whenever the stewardess passes by. Yuck.
Jean Claude Van Damme in Hard Target I really believe that JCVD was only doing his best to make sure people didn’t think he was a pastis swirling European pansy by donning this iconic mullet for John Woo’s American debut. Unfortunately, Van Damme’s chances of playing a convincing American action hero were instantly obliterated by his character’s name, Chance Bordeaux. The film focuses on a group of wealthy psychopaths who hunt homeless people for sport, and understandably set their eyes on Van Damme’s incredibly rare hairpiece as their next prize. For all his efforts, I have to award the Muscles from Brussels simultaneously with worst grooming and best mullet of all time.
John Travolta in From Paris with Love John Travolta is back and cleaned up enough to fly to Paris where his goatee starred opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his own fake tan in this dismal action flick. If the character didn’t look so much like his favourite activities were bar fight’s and sending dick picks, it might have been a little more tolerable. But look at it. Doesn’t this goatee remind of you of the asshole who still makes people over twenty-six show their IDs?
Kevin Bacon in Wild Things The erotic thriller held the promise of a make out fight between its stars Neve Campbell and Denise Richards, but what the film’s marketing didn’t reveal was there was also something for the ladies: Kevin Bacon’s untrimmed bush. You all remember it, don’t you? Right when he walked out of the shower? Wait, You actually looked? JK we all did, andd then pathetically got a ruler, figured out the screen to inch ratio and used it as a standard for the next five years.
Text by Aidan Johnston