Mandatory Movies: What To Watch When You Need To Man Up
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It’s hard to be a man sometimes. We all need a little reinforcement now and again to keep on truckin’. Maybe you want to ask your boss for a raise. Or you’re finally going to initiate that breakup you’ve been putting off. Or it’s time to tell your slacker roommate to move the eff out. Whatever the situation, what you need is a testosterone infusion. Mandatory Movies has just the ticket. These 10 films model the take-charge attitude you need to get your life together. Now, we don’t advocate or condone the violence and illegal activities depicted in these films; but we do want to help you vicariously tap into that primal urge to get shit done.
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Conor McGregor is one of the cockiest MMA fighters in the cage today, but it isn’t as if he hasn’t earned the ego trip. This documentary shows the Irishman’s rise from an unemployed plumber on welfare living in his mom’s spare room to a mansion-dwelling, designer suit-sporting, UFC title-winning superstar. If this rags-to-riches story doesn’t inspire you to start kicking ass and taking names, nothing will.
'Hell or High Water'
There’s nothing like the bond of brothers. In this underrated crime drama, ex-con Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) and his younger, more innocent brother Toby Howard (Chris Pine) become bank robbers to save their dead mother’s ranch from being seized by the bank. It’s a clever plan, but we all know that crime doesn’t pay, and when the law comes calling, Tanner and Toby are forced to part ways. If manhood means securing your family’s legacy by any means necessary, these rough-and-tumble Texans have it down.
Manning up means making sacrifices, whether that’s for one’s family or the country. Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) never planned to be a U.S. Navy SEAL sniper, but after an act of terrorism, he joins up and quickly becomes one of the sharpest shooters in his unit, amassing 160 kills over his careers. Multiple deployments take a toll on his home life, however, so he changes course and helps veterans instead. Just when you think you’ve hit the happy ending, tragedy strikes. This true story will make you reconsider not what your country can do for, but what you can do for your country.
The first day on the job is always rough, but for undercover narcotics officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), his first day on duty is almost the last of his life. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) is the head of the unit, and he ushers Hoyt through the underbelly of Los Angeles, testing Hoyt at every turn by putting him in moral, ethical, and legal double-binds. Is it true that you have to be a wolf to catch a wolf, as Harris states? Or do good guys abide their conscience and follow the rules? This action flick will have you holding your breath as Hoyt figures it out.
To protect and to serve. That’s what S.W.A.T. officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) must do in this adrenaline rush of an action film after a madman (Dennis Hoper) rigs a city bus with a bomb that will detonate if the speedometer drops below 50 miles per hour. With the help of his partner Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels), Jack must figure out how to save the passengers – including cutie-pie brunette Annie (Sandra Bullock), who inadvertently ends up in the driver’s seat. Reeves has never been so convincingly macho as he is here with his buzz-cut, bullet-proof vest, and plenty of fire power. Buckle up. This is one wild ride.
For anyone who thinks brawn beats brains, this trippy psychological drama will be a wake-up call. Edward Norton plays an unnamed insomniac and depressive with a support group addiction. After meeting soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), he joins a fight club that quickly spirals out of control, culminating in a shocking twist that will leave you questioning everything you just witnessed. Consider this a cautionary tale about how too much manliness is deadly.
Masculinity and muscles go together like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hollywood. In this classic ‘70s bodybuilding documentary, manning up means getting as big and strong as possible for the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions. If you want to get ripped, this is your cinematic motivation. The young Schwarzenegger is like a victory-seeking missile who will stop at nothing to come out on top. (And, yes, he does compare the rush of weightlifting to coming.) Insert obscene grunting noise here.
When a group of thugs gathers to pull off a diamond warehouse heist, personality clashes, stupid mistakes, and grievous injuries ensue. While the violence in this film is so excessive you might need a barf bag, what you’re really watching for is the dick-swinging chutzpah and the witty repartee, both qualities that a man must possess and use to his advantage when needed.
Sometimes manning up means taking care of your loved ones and staying true to your dreams. That’s what Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau), an up-and-coming Lakota Sioux bronc rider, does after a head injury prohibits him from returning to the rodeo. While Brady tries to figure out his next move on the impoverished Pine Ridge reservation, he cares for his autistic sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau) and visits a former rider friend, Lane Scott (as himself), who’s paralyzed. Despite the risks, Brady just can’t quit being a cowboy and by the end of the film, he's literally back on the horse.
'Dead Man Walking'
Taking responsibility for your wrongdoing is the test of maturity in a man. Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn), a convicted rapist and murderer on death row, isn’t quite there yet when he meets Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon), the nun chosen to be his spiritual advisor ahead of his execution. Sister Helen doesn’t fall for any of Matthew’s charming B.S. and challenges him to own up to his crimes. Through a series of gut-wrenching conversations leading up to his death, Sister Helen teaches Matthew about righteousness, love, and forgiveness.
Real men care – about themselves, their friends, and the next generation. Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is a shy kid growing up in a bad neighborhood in Miami in the ‘80s. Chiron seeks refuge from his crack-addicted mother with Juan (Mahershala Ali), a friendly drug-dealer who takes Chiron under his wing, teaches him to swim, and tries to instill some wisdom into him. As Chiron grows, he grapples with self-esteem, his sexuality, and making amends, all essential steps on the path to becoming a well-adjusted man.