POSTED April 20 2012

The Mating Game: Think Like a Man and the Sports Metaphor

For Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. For Steve Harvey, it’s a game. Thus his self-help book Act Like a LadyThink Like a Man, adapted into the he’s-just-so-into-you romance Think Like a Man. You can read my review here.

The retrofitting of pop-psych and self-help books into popular movies is a relatively recent phenom (Queen Bees and Wannabes became Mean Girls; He’s Just Not That into You kept its title when it was made into a film; so did What to Expect When You’re Expecting, due next month).

Framing the courtship comedy as a match between adversaries goes as far back as Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve, where Barbara Stanwyck baits the trap for Henry Fonda, explaining between smooches that “No man ever proposed marriage from natural causes.” All too often female and male characters play a different mating game, with women deploying Mantrap strategies while men take a page from the Defense-Against-Marriage playbook. By thinking about courtship so scientifically, American filmmakers make it a spectator sport while draining the surprise and romance from it.

Still, I admit I enjoy Mantrap Movies (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Two Can Play That Game). You? Your favorite examples of the genre?




  1. Debbie R. says:

    Who needs ManTrap movies? The whole culture is a lesson in ManTrap. Women who oppose abortion don’t want to lose the “Marry Me” card in the Monopoly game. Magazine stories and ads are all about changing your body (and your personality) to catch the man. And what’s with the out-of-control wedding phenomenon?

    Okay,as much as I hated the unnecessary and dragged-out scene with the Czech exchange student in American Pie — it was just sexist porn to get the boys (and men) in the theater — I liked that it at least flipped around the game, i.e., it was a something of a GirlTrap movie.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    How to Marry a Millionaire is a classic, so I’ll go with that as the favorite. But If A Man Answers is tres adorable. And it’s got Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, and the “self-help” book.

  3. Miz Val says:

    Did you ever notice that those “how to get a man movies ” are always about the under 35 set? They are not about middle class,plus sized or hard working females? You wanna push my panic button? Make a movie about women over 40(better yet 50) looking for decent relationship.While you’re at it make the men worth chasing after.Some of the women I know will be so please that there’s still hope.

  4. Horse Badorties says:

    Miz Val:

    Ever see Sugerbaby? A great german movie about a plus size woman chasing and getting her man…Totally unique film..worth hunting for.

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