vulture lists

Vulture Investigation: Is Matthew McConaughey’s Movie Charm Directly Tied to How Much He Sweats?

The Paperboy will lodge itself in pop consciousness as “the movie where Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron.” Naturally. But based on the trailer alone, the movie belongs in another category, too: Matthew McConaughey Sweat Fests. Maybe more than any other modern actor, McConaughey (currently starring in Killer Joe) is known for his perspiration-soaked roles. He operates on two main axes, charm and sweat, and most of his major movies can be assessed on these merits alone. But is one directly related and/or proportional to the other? Here is our quick survey of McConaughey roles, arranged from utterly soaked to bone dry.

A Time to Kill
Sweatiness: Soaked in sweat. And righteousness.
Charm: 10. This is pretty much the perfect combination for McConaughey: Not too much wide-eyed mugging, but still plenty of hunkish behavior.

Sweatiness: Extreme.
Charm: 6? Ish? This is a terrible movie, and McConaughey’s charisma gets locked in a losing battle with a crummy screenplay.

Fool’s Gold
Sweatiness: Pretty damn sweaty.
Charm: 4. Ugh, what a dud. No one cares about your ancient coins, bro.

Sweatiness: Periodically very sweaty, but also often just wet.
Charm: Tough to assess. It’s not charm, per se — it’s a war movie, for goodness sake — but he’s very charasmatic. Let’s say an 8, but not sexy charm and not drawl charm. It’s a more heroic, serious, submariner charm.

Two for the Money
Sweatiness: Constant exercise-induced moisture. Seriously, he spends half this movie working out.
Charm: 1. Football and gambling are supposed to be fun, aren’t they? Not in Two for the Money they’re not.

Magic Mike
Sweatiness: More just lubed, greased, spritzed, etc. It’s not sweat, but he’s definitely glowing.
Charm: 9. Assless chaps suit him.

Reign of Fire*
Sweatiness: Fairly damp — it’s a movie about dragons! Still, the general temp of the film is colder than you remember.
4. He’s just gruff, mostly.

The Lincoln Lawyer
Sweatiness: A little bit schvitzy here and there, but mostly just oily. Get some blotting papers, people.
Charm: 10. Playing lawyers suits him somehow!

The Newton Boys
Low-level, old-timey dewiness.
Charm: 5. Skeet Ulrich out-charms him.

Killer Joe
Sweatiness: Remarkably dry, considering the film takes place in Texas and he wears black almost the entire time.
Charm: 4. Yes, we couldn’t take our eyes off him, but it was more because he was so compellingly evil.

We Are Marshall
Sweatiness: Almost none. Too much tragedy for sweating.
Charm: 4. Too much tragedy for charm. Marshall’s supposed to seem uplifting, but it winds up feeling more like grief porn than anything else.

Sweatiness: Almost none.
Charm: 8. It’s like The Truman Show, except sweet and funny. Plus Woody Harrelson amplifies McConaughey’s charmingness.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Sweatiness: Negligible.
Charm: 6. It’s a solid enough rom-com, but that’s thanks to Kate Hudson, not McConaughey.

The Wedding Planner
Sweatiness: Zero.
Charm: Zero. What a dud. Sorry, J-Lo.

Sweatiness: None.
Charm: 1. Stop trying to ruin Jodie Foster’s science!

* As the result of an editor’s oversight, the film Reign of Fire — which is about beasts that spout FIRE that is very hot and makes people sweat — was initially not included in this list. Thanks to reader maiden_voyager for pointing that out. We purposefully, however, did not include Failure to Launch. That movie’s the worst.

The Matthew McConaughey Sweat vs. Charm Index