As much as we’d like to pretend that actors’ real lives don’t matter, we know it’s not true. We care. We care about how they lost the weight for that role and how they gained it back. We want to know if they loathe their costars, what best-boy grip they seduced during production, and with whom they cheated when nights on the set got extra long. (Unless you’re Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe in “Proof of Life,” in which case, thanks but no thanks. Ignorance really is bliss.)
This weekend, when Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston’s much anticipated comedy “The Break-Up” hits theaters, you can bet that, like last summer’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” audiences will queue up for their tickets with the costars’ personal lives well in mind.
For followers of the Team Aniston vs. Team Jolie struggle, three questions are likely to be front and center: Are Jen and Vince really together? Does Jen ever hassle Vince about what it was like on the set of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith?” (And why didn’t he put a stop to that burgeoning Brangelina hanky-panky)? And finally: How does Vince Vaughn measure up to Brad Pitt?
That last question is unavoidable. After all, affection for Jennifer Aniston aside, Vince Vaughn seems like the Anti-Pitt. This is a man who has made his movie career getting drunk, picking up chicks, and having a rowdy good time. We first met him when he was playing video games and striking out in “Swingers,” never dreaming that he would be thrust into the limelight and held up as the new replacement for Brad Pitt, 1995 and 2000’s “Sexiest Man Alive” — two very competitive years, I might add.
In contrast to Vince’s sophomoric carousing, Brad Pitt has spent his career in search of the Dalai Lama, tracking down serial killers, and playing the sadistic side of Edward Norton. His roles have run the gamut from tear-inducing (“Legends of the Fall”) to edgy (“12 Monkeys”), to unintelligible (“Snatch”), but never — not once in his whole career — has he crashed a wedding or spoken jive in a tracksuit.
The two men may in fact be complete opposites. If only one can triumph in popular opinion, who will it be? Brad Pitt, the ripped Adonis turned United Nations activist? Or the fratty “normal guy” Vince Vaughn, whose antics in “Old School” inspired an entire generation of college women to wrestle in jelly? On this, the opening weekend of “The Break-Up,” and the first weekend of Brad Pitt’s new fatherhood, let us look to a few major categories to determine who has the advantage in the lesser-discussed, but no-less epic struggle of Team Vaughn vs. Team Pitt.
The body While no one knows for certain, it’s rumored that Brad Pitt works out. His body seems like a living pantheon to low carb diet and personal training sessions with a Jujitsu master. The man is a running-uphill-while-doing-one-armed-push-ups-carrying-a-backpack-full-of-anvils brand of ripped. One can imagine that, in happier times, Jennifer Aniston woke in the morning, not to the smell of bacon and eggs, but to Brad splitting a protein shake with a sherpa he met on the set of “7 Years in Tibet.”
Vince Vaughn, on the other hand, represents a much more approachable physical type. He’s a 6-foot-5 teddy bear with just the hint of a belly, possibly earned from days of drinking full calorie beer and skimping on the Pilates classes. Vince is the kind of guy you can imagine putting peanut butter on his pancakes or drinking a Yoo-Hoo. Rumor has it that he’s recently been plying Jennifer Aniston with red wine and desserts in hopes of beefing her up, making him quite possibly the only man alive who truly thinks Hollywood actresses are too skinny.
Advantage: Team Pitt takes it, with a caveat: No one wants to date a guy who thinks he’s doing you a favor by taking his shirt off.
The company a man keeps is important. Brad Pitt is friends with many of Hollywood’s A-list, while Vince Vaughn runs with a crowd slightly more reminiscent of the guys you hated sharing a bathroom with in college.
It’s easy to imagine Brad bringing home George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow, that protein-shake-drinking sherpa, Angelina Jolie’s son Maddox, (who won’t settle down until everyone oohs and aahs over his precocious little Mohawk) and now Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, the baby Brangelina. A child so wonderful that she is simply set in the middle of the room to luminesce, shaming those who rely on overhead lighting rather than the glow of their own genetic masterpiece.
Vince Vaughn comes with an entirely different crew. His buddies include Owen and Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Will Farrell and the rest of the “frat pack.” If he invites the fellows over for movie night, it is basically a guarantee that someone will mistake a potted plant for the W.C., misuse the food processor, or place a prank call.
Advantage: Team Vaughn. Provided you have a carpet cleaner, like to hear “Dodgeball” quotes over and over, and the furniture is covered in two sheets of plastic.
The hobbiesIn determining dominance between Team Vaughn and Team Pitt, the final category is, of course, hobbies. How better to judge a man than by the activities he finds personally fulfilling?
To the casual fan, Brad’s hobbies seem to include: Getting highlights, working out, adopting other women’s children, remodeling houses and making examples of pesky paparazzi in Namibia.
Vince’s hobbies seem a bit simpler: Watching sporting events, Sega Genesis and excessive use of the word “baby” and “money,” top the list.
Advantage: Overwhelming victory for Team Vaughn. While few women want to devote their lives to watching football every weekend (aren’t the Manning brothers some sort of dance troupe?) there’s nothing wrong with macho pastimes, especially if it keeps a guy too busy to run off and impregnate Angelina Jolie.
The advantage in this week’s battle thus falls by a small margin to Team Vaughn — whose frat-boy-next-door charm seems to be winning him fans, even if he has yet to trump Team Pitt in the battle of the washboard stomachs. After all, audiences were so invested in Vaughn’s pairing with Aniston that the “The Break-Up” was rewritten to reunite the pair — a good omen for Vince and Jen, and an even better indication of Vince’s big-screen likeability. Now if only he’d take a jog with Brad’s sherpa…