Berlatsky is one of those writers that I eat up like catnip.
Cats eat catnip, right? I'm not a cat guy.
Don't Let Gerard Butler Fool You: Fatherhood Isn't About Being Sexy - Noah Berlatsky - The Atlantic
That is sort of the issue. Feminism has given women a way to deconstruct idealized images on screen, to understand the media's manipulation of bodies, desire, and jealousy as both political and aggressive. Men, though, haven't developed the same analytical resources. You hear about how Bella Swan in Twilight is a bad role model for girls, or how Julia Roberts in Pretty Women is a bad image for women. But men on screen are rarely seen as bad role models, or good role models. They're just more or less attractive fantasies. If you as a man find James Bond oppressive—well, that just shows what kind of man you are. Or, rather, aren't.
You can tell what kind of man I am, then, by the fact that I identified in the film not with that scamp George, but with Stacie's clean-shaven, nice-guy goober second-husband-to-be, Matt (James Tupper). Rooting for Matt isn't easy; the film gives him no abs to speak of, no soccer skills, and the personality of a stump. Stacie tells George at one point that Matt makes her laugh, but we never see him do so—nor do we ever see Matt interacting in any but the most perfunctory way with Lewis. Matt's not world-famous. He keeps his dick in his pants. He involves himself in the day-to-day tasks of raising a child. Ergo, he's boring and no one could possibly care about him. Let's go watch George do something sexily irresponsible again!
The movie does flirt with the idea of having George suffer some sort of consequences for his years of neglect and priapism. But that's just the standard rom-com tease. He's in the title role, he's got that wounded smile—how can he lose? In one of his final lines of the film, George says he's learned the importance of being there—but Matt was there, too, and more often—and, really, could probably be expected to be there more responsibly and consistently in the future as well. George's charm isn't that he's there. It's his athleticism and his good looks and arguably most of all his faithlessness.
If fidelity and responsibility were what mattered, Matt would get the happy ending. But he hardly ever does. Every so often you'll get some sweet guy hero like Lloyd in Say Anything. But more often you're presented with supposedly charming fixer-upers, from Han Solo to Richard Gere in Pretty Woman to Eddie Murphy in Boomerang to, again, that ongoing archetype of rakishness James Bond. It's as if the folks who make movies think that even Matt wants to be George—so much so that the faithful goober will cheer for the star even as said star is pissing on him from a great height.
So, on behalf of all the Matts out there, let me take a moment to piss back.