It's bad enough to be dating when you're middle aged. But in the new comedy Cyrus, poor John (John C. Reilly) is trying to start up a relationship with the warm, smart, beautiful Molly (Marisa Tomei) and having to deal with her clingy, fully grown son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). It's hard enough to win over a manipulative toddler, pretty much impossible when the kid's old enough to drink and drive, not to mention his mom's best friend.
While Cyrus may not be your typical 21-year-old, he's got plenty of big-screen company — not surprising, really, given the comedy gold of immature hijinks fueled by disposable income (and reality). From these swollen man-child ranks, we've picked our 10 favorites.
10. The Waterboy (1998)
Insert your own New York Jets gag here.
has a unique ability to tap into the rage that may well boil just below the surface of your average, American man-child. Simple bayou boy Bobby Boucher is all sweet affability and professional commitment when he's delivering liquid refreshment to thirsty football players. Taunt him too long or too hard, though, and the beast comes out — a good thing for the coach of a struggling college team (Henry Winkler
) who's seeking any kind of competitive edge. Everybody else might just want to get out of the way.
9. Being There (1979)
His worldview is restricted and two-dimensional. Good thing he's in D.C.
When his lifelong employer dies, gardener Chance (Peter Sellers
) has to fend for himself. That's a bit of a problem, since the quiet, withdrawn man has never ventured three feet outside of his benefactor's home, or had a friend who didn't come to him via the cold glow of a television screen. Cast out onto the streets of the nation's capitol, Chance is pitted against the cold, cruel world. Since lack of substance can be mistaken for depth of character in D.C. (we'll leave you to draw parallels to the politician of your choice), don't be too quick to give advantage to the cold, cruel world.
8. Big (1988)
First rule in dating: Get over the fear of cooties.
Youthful innocence looks good on Tom Hanks
. Maybe that's because, within this man-child lot, he's the most normal representative: A regular kid who just wants to get a jump on the whole growing up thing. Thanks to the intervention of a magical fortune-telling machine, the boy winds up in Mr. Hanks' body and eventually nets himself a lucrative career, a great apartment, and a hot girlfriend. That's one helluva jump-start — most of us are still hoping to have one
of those wishes come true.
7. Baby Boy (2001)
Does he understand that jail is not synonymous with "time-out?"
Not every case of arrested development is grounds for comedy. Jody (Tyrese Gibson
) is a young man who still lives with his mother (A.J. Johnson
), has fathered two children by two different women (Taraji P. Henson
and Tamara LaSeon Bass
), and can't quite steel himself to assume the responsibilities of the adult world. The clock is ticking on the guy — something his mother's new boyfriend (Ving Rhames
) sees all too clearly — but from Jody's point of view, it's nothing that can't be put off with a bit of jealous clinging and a bagful of Fatburgers.
6. Step Brothers (2008)
Good Housekeeping? Man, you should check out Real Simple.
One guy who refuses to grow up can be a handful. Get two of them together and you'd better hope your Valium prescription is up to date. The marriage of Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen
) to Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins
) finds Bob's live-in son Dale (John C. Reilly
— yup, he's been there himself) saddled with Nancy's equally grown Brennan (Will Ferrell
) as a roommate. That both step-siblings are petulant, privileged layabouts means that the relationship will move from adversarial to fraternal to downright toxic with blinding speed. That each "kid" comes to the conflict equipped with stuff like night-vision goggles and katana blades means that everybody will be lucky if the resulting wounds are only emotional.
5. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
They try to solve problems by putting their heads together. What's two times zero again?
And while we're talking lethal pair-ups, how about that Harry Dunn (Jeff Daniels
) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey
)? On the plus side, they can support themselves — not well, but well enough. Then again, for good buddies, they're exceptionally competitive and vindictive when it comes to pursuing the woman of their dreams (Lauren Holly
). Combine that with their natural lack of impulse-control, and it's probably best to hide the pointed objects and the high-octane laxatives. Things could get messy.
4. Tommy Boy (1995)
He should travel with a first aid kit, bail money, and a fire extinguisher.
There may be no scarier incarnation of the boy in a man's body than Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley
). A ball of impetuousness, Tommy never met a random whim that wasn't worth indulging immediately. That may have been fine when he was in college (for seven years) and getting drunk with frat buddies. But when that reckless enthusiasm launches a cross-country, last-ditch effort to sell 500,000 brake pads to save his father's company/keep the bankers at bay? Well, there's no real crossover between automotive supplies and a one-man wrecking crew.
3. The Errand Boy (1961)
We can think of at least three producers he's more mature than.
Clearly, there's a certain level of commitment an actor needs to sell his portray of a boy in an adult's body. That said, Jerry Lewis
definitely went above and beyond by allowing his hapless errand boy character, Morty Tashman, to be lulled to sleep by a magically called-to-life clown puppet. It's one thing to pay tribute to childlike wonder. But if that much regression is needed to regain your innocence, we'll stay old and jaded, thank you.
2. About a Boy (2002)
He could inspire Peter Pan to leave Neverland.
There are few people as secure in their irresponsibility as Will Freeman (Hugh Grant
). And why not? He's handsome, rich, and has a suitable line of b.s. for every occasion. With all that going for him, there's no shortage of irony when Will gets pulled from paradise by a 12-year-old boy saddled with more responsibility than any kid should have to face. The upshot is that you get to watch two people come of age at the same time. Unfortunately, only one of them can legally resort to hard liquor when the going gets rough.
1. Forrest Gump (1994)
He met Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and revived the Whitman's empire.
Can pure innocence prevail over the adversities of the '60s, '70s, and '80s? If the innocent in question is Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks
), hmmmmm, maybe. Director Robert Zemeckis
used special effects to get his protagonist into the most turbulent moments of the late-20th century, as well as to set up confabs between Forrest and several U.S. presidents. Throughout it all, Gump's blithe ingenuousness helps him overcome challenges that have bested even the most erudite and experienced. Maybe BP should get him working on that oil leak.