Cinema: Coping with the Cute Factor

Michael J. and Matthew B. try to grow up onscreen

Hard for an actor to cop an Oscar -- or earn a sheaf of rave reviews -- when an audience's first and lasting response to his appearance is "Ooooh, isn't he cute?" His face is a posh prison, his smile a winsome rictus. Because everyone wants to mother him, or date him, or have him for a baby-sitter, nobody will let him grow up. He must remain harmless, asexual, a teen-dream Dorian Gray doll or risk losing the devotion of his millions of chaperones.

A few years ago, America's favorite man-child was Matthew Broderick, star of WarGames in Hollywood and Brighton...

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