This Again?

Eight days after my 3.20 Hunger Games review and six days after posting an insincere mea culpa, and after getting slapped around by bloggers and tweeters for saying that Jennifer Lawrence “seems too big” for costar Josh Hutcherson, and that “she’s a fairly tall, big-boned lady,” L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein has stepped into the fray.

Maybe if I try clarifying things again the idiot wind will relax into a breeze. I never said that Lawrence being “fairly tall” and “big-boned” was a problem of any kind. I said that in a romantic context she “seems too big” for her pint-sized costar Josh Hutcherson. (Which she is, comparably-speaking.) Columnist Nell Minow suggested that instead of saying Lawrence is too big for Hutcherson, I should have said Hutcherson “is too small for her. ” So I said that also.

And that was it. I have no problem with tall. (I’ve always chuckled at the catcall line “tall…and that’s not all!”) On her own semi-statuesque terms Lawrence is totally fine.

I think the line about Lawrence being “too big” for Hutcherson came from a line in The Big Sleep when Humphrey Bogart‘s Phillip Marlowe tells Elisha Cook Jr.’s Harry Jones that his girlfriend Agnes, played by Sonia Darrin, is “too big for ya.” (To which Jones replies, “That’s a dirty crack, mister.”)

  • JBM…

    Did this reaction happen when you said essentially the same thing regarding Abbie Cornish in BRIGHT STAR?

  • RoyBatty Returns

    That’s a very specious connection you are trying to make in trying to lump what Goldstein is referencing and what you wrote, no matter if he does quote you in the piece.

    There’s a huge difference between bemoaning an actress’ body sized because she is simply not a waifish model and criticizing the casting because it doesn’t make sense logically for a supposedly starving character to instead look rather well-fed.

    This comes from a man who is an unabashed fan of more voluptuous bodies to begin with.

  • RoyBatty Returns

    Another angle on this is that several female writers and critics have complained about this fairly straight-forward bit of logic by also pig-headedly trying to make this about body image with the old battlecry of “you wouldn’t say this about a man!”

    Uh, actually, I think there are plenty examples of male actors (Dennis Quaid for WYATT EARP, Christine Bale for THE MECHANIC and, obviously, Tom Hanks for CAST AWAY) who understood the needs of a physical transformation to better serve the character’s depiction, so how is this not holding Lawrence up to the exact same standard?

    Personally, none of the pictures I’ve seen suggest that Lawrence was miscast in this respect to my mind.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I’ve never said and I don’t feel that Lawrence is miscast or inapproppriate in terms of shape or size to play Katniss Everdeen.

  • dharth presley

    as captain brittles so wisely said “never apologize, neve explain… it’s a sign of weakness.” 😉

  • Eve

    You k now what’s funny is that I’m reading The Hunger Games right now and Peeta is sort of the “gentle giant” type. That’s overstating a bit, but in the book he is described as “broad-shouldered,” and the reader gets the impression that he is a bigger guy. Katniss notes that he’s in decent shape because he has to haul around heavy bags of flour, etc., and also says that he was a decent wrestler. So I’d say going by the book, Hutcherson doesn’t quite match the physical description. But I haven’t seen the movie — perhaps he bulked up.

  • Jesse Crall

    The problem with going p.c. and referring to overweight women as “big girls” is that it makes it difficult to describe Lawrence. By saying she’s big-boned, it sounds like you’re calling her fat. But of course, she IS big-boned, totally toned, great body, but big, solid…Nothing wrong with saying that. Going all nice and using code words like “stocky” “big” or “alternatively attractive” can be pretty problematic because when you use those terms to describe, say, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Lawrence, and Rooney Mara, it makes it sound like a dig at them because of how twisted descriptive adjectives have gotten.

    I disagree with Jeff’s critical assessment of The Hunger Games, but he wasn’t inaccurate in regards to Lawrence.

  • Stewart Kline

    All this talk about Lawrence being big boned? I’m still trying to get over Charlize Theron jumping on Tobey Mcguire’s back in The cider House Rules.

  • HJV

    Eh…I dunno Wells. Maybe its just because I didn’t get that big boned vibe at all when I saw Hunger Games, but this sounds similar to people who called Winslet “big boned” in Titanic (Leo was smaller than her but was it distracting?). Pointing any kind of attention to the rare non-anemic female star helps propel the already unhealthy outlook towards women in hwood. If its any consolation, Manohla said the same thing you did in her NYT review. It went something like “Go Katniss! Your a female hero who transcends the pitfalls of male dominated cinema! But Lawrence needs to drop 30”. See the problem?

  • Krillian

    This reminds of a survey I saw a while back. Drawing from vague memories here, but according to women, being a size 2 was the ideal sexy size, according to men, the woman being a size 8 was the ideal sexy size, and the average woman is actually a size 12.

  • Jack Razor

    I can’t be the only one that thinks this was done on purpose, right? That franchise is a female power fantasy, showing a World where women are equal or superior to men physicaly. Personaly I love round women but the concept was to demean the guy, showing he was weaker.

  • The Thing

    While I don’t disagree with how you described her Jeff, I will say the problem lies with her costar, not with her. Even if she was 30 pounds lighter, at that height, she would still look weird next to Hutcherson. The more accurate statement would have been to say that Hutcherson is too small. I know you mentioned it, but the focus was really on Lawrence’s size over Hutcherson’s.

    Either way, I’d definitely wouldn’t mind looking at Lawrence in more movies in the future.


    I’ve seen the same study, and your numbers are about right. I remember F ideal – 2, M ideal 6, Actual – 8, but it’s all relative.

  • Floyd Thursby

    I miss the 50s: Monroe, Russell, Mansfield, Lollobrigida, Ekberg, Loren, Van Doren, etc.

  • Eve

    @Jack Razor — No, it’s not a female empowerment fantasy. No, it is not a world where women are superior to men, at all. I’m reading the books and can tell you that much. It’s about a society getting ready to rise up against an authoritarian government, and it so happens the central figure, the main character, is a 16yo girl. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but Lawrence seems about right for Katniss from the stills and trailers I’ve seen.

  • Joe Gillis

    As for Jennifer Lawrence’s attractiveness, I’d like to jump in with a long-awaited reply of LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK



    Sorry. Thought we all needed that.

  • Sasha Stone

    That awkward moment when you have to read sex-starved male commenters try to talk reasonably about female body size. Look, there is a reason they put Bogart in platform shoes to star opposite Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. That’s the point Jeff was making.

  • gazer

    Below (linked) Letterman interview with Ms. Lawrence just shows what a charming, funny, and genuinly “real” woman she is. It rubs off on her on-screen characters as well, I find, which kinda makes all the talk about her “size” utterly moot.

  • Gaydos

    I hope this settles this discussion and we can move on:

  • The Thing


    This settles the discussion

  • Dances with Smurfs


    This is probably the only thing I actually agree with Jeff on. I never thought that Jeff was saying that Lawrence was “fat”, just that in relation to Hutcherson she is big. The guy has to be taller than the girl. Otherwise it just looks weird and the whole thing is destined to fail. Also kudos to Stewart Kline for bringing up Theron jumping on McGuire’s back in Cider House Rules. Good lord I thought she was going to crush him.

  • HJV

    “That awkward moment when you have to read sex-starved male commenters try to talk reasonably about female body size.”

    That awkward moment when Sasha tries to make a point but comes across as merely judgmental and condescending (and empty of a clear argument)… try articulating instead of barking, honey.