This weekend's big release, Guardians of the Galaxy, is momentous for a few reasons. It's the next big Marvel movie, of course, so that's a big deal. It marks Vin Diesel's return to voicing over taciturn and incredibly sympathetic giants. And it's the official kickoff of Chris Pratt: Matinee Idol.
Pratt's already had a few stages in his still very young career. He started out as a teen heartthrob on Everwood. He was re-made into a loveable schmo on Parks & Recreation. This past winter saw the beginning stages of a big-screen evolution for Pratt, as he voiced the lead in the hugely popular LEGO Movie.
Go back to Parks for a second. Remember at the beginning of this past season when the formerly squishy Andy showed up looking like he'd had the cells in his torso replaced with marble?
Yeah, that was for his role in Guardians, where he's all buffed out and hot. Guardians gives Pratt plenty of room to be smart-alecky, but this may well be a crossroads for the actor, where only two choices present themselves: hot or funny? Is he going to be a matinee idol? Or a doofus?
Sure, there are plenty of actors who blend comedic aptitude with physical beauty. But they're always more one than the other. Sometimes it can be very confusing as to whether an actor is a hot guy starring in a comedy or a comedic actor who's looking hot. These are important distinctions! It's crucial that the world make sense!
As ever, we are here to help.
The Case for Chris Pratt as Hot: Okay, okay. On Parks and Recreation Pratt was undeniably on the "funny" side of this debate rather than the hot side, but now that he's transitioning into his movie star phase he comes out on the side of hot for me. He'll follow up Guardians of the Galaxy with Jurassic World, where he will no doubt quip, but ultimately not be "ha ha" funny. Pratt is now operating in an old-school Harrison Ford mold. You'll chuckle when he's on screen because he's endearing and jokey, but that all feeds into his overall hotness. Yes, Chris Pratt may have once been funny. Now he is hot. —EZ
The Case for Chris Pratt as Funny: I'll admit that watching Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy had me wavering for more than a second. He's cut like marble, he exudes so much charisma that he has sexual chemistry with nearby furniture, and he's so adorable you quickly forget all those years Pratt has spent playing cute but doughy doofuses (Parks & Rec, The Five-Year Engagement) or out-and-out jerks (Wanted, What's Your Number). But I still think that Pratt brings it over the line with just how funny he is. He might look like an underwear model now, but we're thrilled about that because he's hilarious and relatable. You're a handsome man, but you'll always be funny first in my heart, Chris. —DS
The Verdict: Chris Pratt is funny ... for now.
The Case for Paul Rudd as Hot: I’m so confident that Paul Rudd has thrown off the shackles of “funny” and fully embraced his new, handsome-centric stage of his career that I’m not even going to mention how pre-Wet Hot American Summer he played primarily romantic doofs in movies like Clueless and Romeo + Juliet and The Cider House Rules and The Object of My Affection. Rudd’s current career blurs the lines much more, but almost all of Rudd’s movies lately have placed him far more solidly on the romantic side of romantic comedy. Yes, even if nobody saw Admission. Yes, even if nobody liked This Is Forty. —JR
The Case for Paul Rudd as Funny: Honestly, I feel the complete opposite way about Rudd. Whereas his work as Cher's adorable ex-stepbrother/love interest—still a little weird—in Clueless endeared me toward him on a purely romantic level, I would argue that ever since he joined up with the Apatow crew around 2004 with Anchorman and 40-Year-Old Virgin he's placed himself on the side of funny. Even in Knocked Up and This is 40, he's more harried parent than sexy object of attraction. Perhaps his work in Ant-Man will change this, but I'm deeming Paul Rudd funny for now. —EZ
The Verdict: Paul Rudd is funny.
The Case for Adam Scott as Hot: I first fell for Adam Scott thanks to Party Down, and from then on he has fallen under the "hot" category for me. His character on that unfortunately short-lived Starz show, Henry, is a sadsack, out-of-work actor, who deadpans his way through life. And, what can I say? It's irresistible. But even since then, Scott has, while frequently appearing in funny things, also taken more of the straight man, romantic lead role. Ben Wyatt came to Pawnee clearly as a foil for Leslie and quickly became her love interest and a certifiable adorable human. —EZ
The Case for Adam Scott as Funny: Adam Scott looks great, but he's rarely granted the lead role. Even on Parks & Recreation, his character's chemistry with Leslie was a bit of a slow burn, first wringing laughs from his awkward budget-y bluntness before revealing that he was a secret sweetheart. In film, his most famous role is still probably as Will Ferrell's jerk brother in Step Brothers, but he's played other such antagonists (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and very few leading roles. He's got that sarcastic twang and might be the best deadpan straight-man out there right now. I'm buying Adam Scott stock, I'm shopping at the Adam Scott store, but it ain't cause he's pretty. —DS
The Verdict: Adam Scott is funny.
The Case for Dave Franco as Hot: Sure, Franco can make you giggle – like a schoolgirl, because he just smiled at you and picked up his pencil and oh my god he’s so cute! Did you see how adorable he looked in glasses in Neighbors? But he’s not just a puppy dog; he looked plenty hot in his Neighbors sex scene (NSFW, obviously). —KO
The Case for Dave Franco as Funny: Dave Franco, despite his looks, has made his career playing ridiculous, funny characters. Plus, I have trouble taking that Franco smile seriously. It's my fault. —EZ
The Verdict: Dave Franco is funny.
The Case for Channing Tatum as Hot: Tatum is hot—don’t fight me on this. The guy’s known for Step Up, Magic Mike, and 21 Jump Street, and the only consistent factor in all those films is his hotness, no matter how funny—intentionally or otherwise—the plot. His hotness contributes to his humor. His hotness is his career. His hotness matters. —SL
The Case for Channing Tatum as Funny: 21 Jump Street changed the Tatum game. He's not just funny in the way that you laugh at the hot guy's jokes to make him feel better. He's genuinely a hilarious presence in the film, building a strong and complete character who still manages to crack us up. He's been funny for a while – She's the Man, anyone? – but we can finally appreciate him for the finer things, not just drool over him. (Though drooling between bouts of laughter is totally acceptable.) —KO
The Verdict: Channing Tatum is hot.
The Case for Jon Hamm as Hot: The problem with Jon Hamm on the hot/funny scale is that he doesn’t necessarily work on “hot” projects; it’s all super dramatic performances or caricature-like appearances in comedies, nothing in between. So even though he doesn't mean to be hot, he just is. After all, Don Draper's appeal comes from his sexy mystery, suave speech, and cowardly backstory. Wait, scratch that last one. —SL
The Case for Jon Hamm as Funny: If a gorgeous hunk of man like Hamm can make a sex scene hilarious – as he did so deftly in Bridesmaids – it’s a sure sign that he’s broken the hot barrier. He’s full-on funny now, to the point that trying to rest on his looks in movies like Million Dollar Arm doesn’t work. You’d rather laugh with him than look at him. —KO
The Verdict: Jon Hamm is hot.
The Case for Zac Efron as Hot: Efron wants to be funny, you can bet on it. He desperately wants to be seen as more than six pack—nay, infinite pack—of abs, so much so that he's pivoted to starring in a film with Seth Rogen (Neighbors) to do so. But that’s the problem: He’s starring, so his hot factor still matters. If he wants to be properly funny, he should go the route of younger Franco and play the secondary doofus, the Rob Schneider to Adam Sandler. Not that Sandler ever reached the hot end of the scale. —SL
The Case for Zac Efron as Funny: Have you seen what’s been happening to Efron? Dating Michelle Rodriguez, frolicking in the wilderness with Bear Grylls? These are not the marks of a man known for his looks. This feels like Efron is ready to loosen up and have some fun with us. —KO
The Verdict: Zac Efron is hot.
The Case for Nathan Fillion as Hot: Look, I’m proud of Nathan Fillion for continuing to have a career. Good for him! Everybody needs to work. But the fact remains that in popular culture (or, fine, in geek culture, but at this point aren’t those the same things?), Fillion is Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the Serenity, a firefly-class space jalopy roaming through the unincorporated corners of the universe, having rootin’-tootin cowboy-type adventures. He’s Mal. He’s always going to be Mal. Mal was crazy hot. Argument over. —JR
The Case for Nathan Fillion as Funny: Yeah, Mal's hot, but is Mal remotely likable if Nathan Fillion isn't winking at the camera the whole time? He's a handsome man with twinkling eyes, but plenty of beefcakes could have taken that role and driven it straight to nowheresville. Fillion has had such an enduring career (with relatively late success) because he's charming and funny. Nathan Fillion looked like this when he was younger. Perfectly handsome for a soap star (which he was in the mid-'90s) but not enough to vault you to huge success. It was only once Joss Whedon tapped that wry, Han Solo sense of humor vein that he really took off. —DS
The Verdict: Nathan Fillion is funny.
The Case for Bradley Cooper as Hot: Throughout his career, Cooper has been the straight man. Recently, in movies like Silver Linings Playbook, he’s tried stretching his dramatic muscle, making him even less funny. You know what every good, unfunny straight man is? Hot. Cooper’s got gorgeous eyes, a smile to make you squeal, and all of them abs. Why would you laugh at that gorgeous face? You monster, he’s here for your visual enjoyment, not to make you giggle. Have some respect. —KO
The Case for Bradley Cooper as Funny: Timing is on my side on this one, as Cooper currently stars as Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy, a comedic role in which Cooper provides merely the voice. If we’re not even exploiting his body anymore, how can he be considered hot? —JR
The Verdict: Bradley Cooper Is Hot
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.