' ' Cinema Romantico: What Would Keanu Do?

Thursday, August 08, 2019

What Would Keanu Do?


I have not seen “The DUFF”, a 2015 teen comedy, though apparently Marcus Mosher, staff writer at The Athletic has, because over the weekend he posted a video on the perpetually problematic Twitter of Robbie Amell, who plays the love interest of the film’s protagonist (Mae Whitman), throwing a football. He is throwing a football because his character, the superbly monikered Wesley Rush, is the team’s star quarterback, though he is on the verge of being suspended for bad grades, which is a problem because, as Chris Thompson outlined at Deadspin, “apparently his only chance at going to college is on a football scholarship, which he stands to earn by virtue of his understanding not just how to throw a football, but how to throw a football well.” In the clip Mosher shared, however, Rush does not look like he can throw a football at all, sort of, like, jesus, I don’t really even know, like when he brings his arm forward it hits an invisible deflector shield, or something, and then bounces off, sending the ball flying off to the side rather than forward, like a basketball player following through toward the bleachers rather than the basket.

As is the Internet’s wont, Amell took a lot of retroactive flack for this actorly failing. I felt for the guy, and it might have been best for him to just log out for the night, maybe for the rest of the month. Mr. Amell did not log out. He instead, as Thompson notes, ruined date night with his wife Italia Ricci by forcing her to stand outside and film him throwing a football to prove he could. Ay-yi-yi. This wasn’t so much Toxic Masculinity as Emasculated Masculinity. It’s not even about taking the L; why should it be an L in the first place? So what if you can’t throw a football?


The Summer of 2019, it’s no secret, has belonged to Keanu Reeves, from his latest exploits of badassery in the new “John Wick” to hysterically playing himself in “Always Be My Maybe” to voicing Duke Caboom, Canada’s greatest daredevil, in “Toy Story 4.” Of course, Duke Caboom suffers from a crisis of stuntman confidence, unable to perform the very extravagant stunts that give him his moniker, which is apt in this context. Because even if Keanu is the hero we need, every hero has a flaw, as Achilles goes to show. And it’s become semi-lore that on the set of 1991’s “Point Break”, where Reeves played an ex-Ohio State quarterback, one who won a Rose Bowl, the actor, in a scene of pickup football on a beach, could not throw a football.

We know this because of the film’s credited “football supervisor”, Rick Neuheisel, a former real-life Rose Bowl winning quarterback at UCLA, who has told the story of being employed by the “Point Break” production team specifically to instruct Reeves in the finer points of throwing a football only to discover that Reeves, despite tutelage, could not throw a football at all. Neuheisel himself, through various editing tricks, throws the passes you think you see Reeves throwing on the beach.

Now, does Summer of 2019 Keanu seem like the sort of guy who if taken to task by good-for-nothing Internet trolls for his poor football throwing form in “Point Break” would enlist, I don’t know, Winona Ryder to go film iPhone footage of him throwing a football straight throw a damn tire hanging from a tree in Laurel Canyon just to show you, to show all of you? No, he doesn’t. He’s cool with who he is, okay, Robbie Amell? And hey, Tim Tebow won a Heisman Trophy and his best pass was one of those rickety jump passes straight out of single-wing 1930s football. After all, who’s to say Johnny Utah wasn’t an option quarterback who won Rose Bowl MVP by running 22 times for 165 yards and three touchdowns? And who’s to say Wesley Rush didn’t earn his scholarship to 2015-era Georgia Tech to run Paul Johnson’s Flexbone?*

*Apologies for this very specific joke

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