The struggle for gender equality in Hollywood has always been difficult. Too often, a female starlet is stuck playing a man who is older than herself. It's a fact of the times that male actors hire attractive "it" girls in hopes that male viewers will buy tickets to see them.
The following examples are not films like Harold and Maude, The Reader, or Lost in Translation, where the narratives consider why someone would choose an older individual. Each of these works would be better if they cast actors with no age differences, or if they eliminated the romantic perspective completely.
As Good as It Gets (1997), by Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt
As Good as It Gets is a funny and well-written relic from the 1990s. Simon, a gay man, was considered progressable 25 years ago, but the scripts humor hasnt aged particularly well, primarily due to Helen Hunt's charming but put-upon waitress, Carol. All of this is exacerbated by Carol's constant need for a considerate, selfish, obsessive-compulsive man-child, who she has to serve every day.
As Good as it Gets is the most recent film to win an Oscar nomination for its performances. Unfortunately, impeccable acting cant seem to suspend our unbelief so much that Carol ends up with Melvin. What a terrible conclusion for such a likable character.
The Fifth Element: Bruce Willis and Mila Jovovich (1997)
The Professional, a film about an 11-year-old Natalie Portman, is a shambles. Three years later, Besson's strange sci-fi epic, The Fifth Element, isn't much of a surprise. Mila Jovovich, in her early 20s, sports one of the most unnecessarily provocative outfits in cinematic history.
When Jovovichs character Leeloo is revealed, it's as if she's born yesterday in a lab, and that she speaks a foreign language that resembles the ramblings of a toddler. There's even a scene where Korben Dallas (Willis) kisses Leeloo while she's sleeping. It's no surprise that many women have accused Luc Besson of being a creep.
In Six Days, Seven Nights, Harrison Ford and Anne Heche (1998)
Six Days, Seven Nights is a fantastic island adventure film about a fashion magazine editor who goes on vacation with her husband (David Schwimmer) and discovers herself fighting for her life against pirates, heat exhaustion, and dangerous wildlife when she and her airplanes pilot, Quinn (mid-50s Harrison Ford) crash-land on a deserted island. The script's many weaknesses add to the movie's obvious flaws.
Quinn does seem to be creepy and inappropriate when it comes to Robin, but she doesn't understand why she's engaged. He's well aware of this, but they don't really care.
Jennifer Autry and Neil Breen in Fateful Findings (2013)
Fateful Findings is the third film directed, produced, written by, and directed by Neil Breen, the current golden boy of so-bad-its-good-cinema, Stu (his fourth film, Twisted Pair, may be the funniest bad movie ever).
Breen plays Dylan, the infallible protagonist, who rekindles a romantic friendship with Jennifer Austrys Leah. When they were eight years old, Dylan and Leah became best friends. Today, decades later, Dylan and Leah find each other once more and instantly fall in love.
The Mummy: Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis (2017)
Tom Cruise has been a prolific contributor to the age disparity between men and women in films. In American Made, his wife is played by Sarah Olsen, who is 21 years younger; in Oblivion, his wife is a slightly younger, 14 years his junior; and in the Mission: Impossible series, his wife, played by Michelle Monaghan, is a slightly younger member of the cast. Annabelle Wallis, who co-starred in the blatant 2017 disaster, is still pushing it far
The Mummy isn't suited to Cruise's wise-crackin, Indiana Jones-style Nick Morton. It's a bit jarring when Wallis is revealed to be his love interest, although it feels like they'd work better as father and daughter. Fortunately, this issue was addressed in this years smash film, Top Gun 2, where Tom's love interest is played by Jennifer Connelly, who is nine years younger than Tom.
For Your Eyes Only (1981): Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet
The Bond Girl is equally as important to the 007 series as high-concept action sequences and complex gadgets, but even Bond needs to be kept in check every now and then. The massive age disparity between Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet is something even Sterling Archer would consider.
Roger Moores Bond's most common criticism was that he looked far too old for the role, but the producers did nothing to do him any favors when casting a lady 30 years his junior to play his love interest in For Your Eyes Only. James Bond is supposed to be a secret agent rather than a babysitter.
Entrapment (1999) by Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones
The apocalyptic late-'90s heist film Entrapment is well-known for its 39-year age difference between its co-stars Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The 70-year-old Connery is actually playing a 60-year-old, so it's really only a 29-year difference. See? Much better.
The chemistry between Connery and Zeta-Jones is actually quite decent until romance enters the picture. Without a love story, why would women even watch a film if they didnt have a romantic subplot intended to make it as safe as possible? Fortunately, the gender age gap is narrowing, but we still have a long way to go.