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Jake Gyllenhaal, the “smart-throb.”

Jake Gyllenhaal, the “smart-throb.”  (photo)

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In an intriguing and moody profile of Jake Gyllenhaal, The Independent‘s Lesley O’Toole introduces us to an unlikely new coinage along the lines of “bromance”: “smart-throb.” This neologism is new to me, but apparently it comes up every now and then: it apparently also applies to David Krumholtz on “Numb3rs” and, long ago, Jonathan Taylor Thomas. August company, to be sure, though O’Toole proposes that the ranks also include the older likes of George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon. (Best not to think about what actors didn’t make the cut.)

What she means, of course, is that Gyllenhaal, who wasn’t initially known for his biceps, has gotten very jacked. O’Toole makes the semi-convincing parallel to Downey Jr. in that he was once sensitive and dark and is now noticeably bigger than when he first got started. But even as Donnie Darko, Gyllenhaal seemed a lot better sculpted than your average teen weirdo; his contemporary Tobey Maguire was no stranger to the weight room, but there’s always been a tentative, unnerving quality around him that might disqualify him.

05142010_downey.jpgThis is by no means a real trend, though it was nice of O’Toole to give us the vocabulary in case it becomes one. It does, at least, suggest that fat husbands with hot wives may be all well and good for network TV, but at the cinematheque, the idea of a wiry action hero is still a definite implausibility; if you’re going to head up a franchise, you’ll still need the six-pack.

Whether or not this actually succeeds in changing Gyllenhaal’s image remains to be seen; public reaction to him as a long-haired, sword-wielding “Prince of Persia” has been muted and mostly confused. But it also suggests we’ve entered the era of the smart big hero who requires both brains and brawn, a departure from the days when most of the action heroes past had whole movies designed to cover up their thespian inadequacies. And there’s a domino effect where otherwise potentially mediocre movies are elevated by casts that are vastly overqualified.

Of course, be careful how far you want to take this logic. Nicolas Cage started embracing it with feverish intensity around 1996, and now he’s only sporadically useful.

[Photos: “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” Disney, 2010; “Iron Man 2,” Paramount, 2010.]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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