Sure, it’s a novelty to see Meryl Streep drop the period garb and studied accents and suit up in Gore-Tex and negotiate Class-5 rapids in The River Wild. But there’s at least one aspect of the movie that rings familiar: the leading lady’s wimpy, ineffectual leading man (played by David Strathairn). Here’s a who’s who of some of her others.
ALAN ALDA Movie: The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979, MCA/Universal) Character: Crusading liberal New York senator who has affair with civil rights activist. Wimpy Attribute: Wears super-snug suit vests. Telltale Dialogue: ”How many children can this nation afford to let go hungry? If we’re not here for these children…what are we here for, gentlemen?”
ROY SCHEIDER Movie: Still of the Night (1982, MGM/UA) Character: Cardigan-and-loafers-wearing shrink involved with possible killer. Wimpy Attributes: Drinks Tab, drives Volvo station wagon. Telltale Dialogue: ”Whatever you’re feeling now-guilt, remorse, whatever — it’s human, it’s understandable, it’s something we all share.” A big bear hug follows.
ROBERT DE NIRO Movie: Falling in Love (1984, Paramount) Character: Married building contractor who has affair with married woman he meets in a bookstore. Wimpy Attribute: Buys gardening book. Telltale Dialogue: ”Hey Ed, tell me the truth. You think I’m good-looking?” De Niro asks fellow sensitive guy Harvey Keitel at the gym.
ED BEGLEY JR. Movie: She-Devil (1989, Orion) Character: Nebbishy suburban accountant who leaves shrewish wife and obnoxious kids for glamorous romance novelist. Wimpy Attribute: Bakes cookies while in prison for embezzlement. Telltale Dialogue: ”Why don’t you get some salt and Perrier to remove the stain?”
ALBERT BROOKS Movie: Defending Your Life (1991, Warner) Character: Dead yuppie who meets perfect woman while kvetching in the afterlife. Wimpy Attribute: Sings along to Barbra Streisand in his car. Telltale Dialogue: ”I don’t think I can…. This is already better than any sex I’ve ever had I don’t want to screw it up,” he says, declining Streep’s proposition.