Where the protagonist's love interest's boyfriend isn't a complete douche

It’s a common theme in movies. The hero meets a sweet girl and falls in love with her, but then he finds out that she has a boyfriend. He meets the boyfriend, and the bf turns out to be a jealous asshole who threatens the hero and cheats on his girlfriend. Sometimes this isn’t immediately apparent. Thus we can feel that the hero is justified in breaking up the relationship and the douchebag gets his comeuppance in the end.

There are many examples of these, off the top of my head The Wedding Singer and Hot Rod are two that fit.

My question is: what are some examples which break the mold? In these, the rival is a really nice guy, it’s just that the girl likes our protagonist better. The only semi-example I can think of is Casablanca, although…

The hero gives up the girl.Do I really need a tag for a film that’s almost 70 years old?

It’s not that well known, but prior to hitting big in “X-Men” Hugh Jackman made a romantic comedy in Australia called “Paperback Hero.” The love interest’s eventually-dumped boyfriend seemed to be a perfectly nice, straight up guy who genuinely likes her for who she is.

Ralph Bellamy in His Girl Friday. In fact, I think this type of character has been called a “Ralph Bellamy”.


“Play It Again, Sam”. Woody Allen falls in love with Diane Keaton, who is married to his good friend Tony Roberts. She dithers. In fact, the ending is a parody of Casablanca, as I recall. Much as he wants her, he doesn’t want to break up his friends’ marriage.

Spiderman 2?

I think we can all agree that Ben Braddock in The Graduate is a monumental creep. We don’t really know anything about Ross’ jilted spouse other than that he likely has better prospects than Ben, but it would be hard to be more of a complete douche than the titular character.

Bill Pullman in the execrable Sleepless In Seattle is the classic “Baxter”, albeit in a particularly inventive twist it isn’t that ostensible suitor Tom Hanks is attempting to compete, but rather, is being stalked long distance by obsessive serial monogamist Meg Ryan. I like to follow this film up with Play Misty For Me, which I like to think of as a thematic sequel.

Also, I hate to shatter your closely-held illusions, but the idea that Casablanca is about two men vying for the love of an innocent woman. Far from it, it is actually about a manipulative gold-bricking temptress who uses Rick–the only man in Casablanca who has the guile and resources–to get herself and her meal ticket husband to the United States, leaving him destitute and on the run. Sorry to break the news to you, but somebody was going to do it sooner or later.


I’m probably being wooshed, but where the hell did you get that idea from the OP or any other post? Lund’s virtue isn’t relevant; Laszlo’s is.

Credit Little Nemo for indirectly pointing towards this page, which has a few examples, although some don’t look like the same thing exactly.

In that case, the love interest is the douche.

How about the recent Ricky Gervais movie Ghost Town? I thought it was really good, but I’ll spoiler-box the plot.

Ricky Gervais plays a misanthropic dentist who is able to see dead people (the ghosts of the title) as the result of an error during a colonoscopy performed under general anesthesia. Greg Kinnear is a ghost who convinces him to break up his wife’s budding relationship with Bill Campbell. But it turns out that Greg Kinnear’s character is something of a jerk who was unfaithful to her, while Bill Campbell’s character is a good guy. And of course Ricky Gervais’s character falls in love with her.

Wasn’t the boyfriend/husband (or whatever) in the last Superman movie an ok/good dude who just couldn’t compete with Supes?

I’d be more precise, but I only saw it once and it’s all hazy.

Oxford Blues. Although in this case the protagonist (Rob Lowe) was kind of a douche and…

he doesn’t get the girl in the end. But he’s OK with that because he has learned a few lessons about life over the course of the movie. And he gets Ally Sheedy as a consolation prize.

But you are correct.

In Enchanted, James Marsden’s Prince Edward is pretty nice guy. He’s a bit self-absorbed, but he has a good heart. He’s a much nicer guy than Patrick Dempsey’s cynical character. Cuter too. I still don’t know why Giselle (Amy Adams) wanted Dempsey instead of Marsden, except to be able to stay in New York. In that same movie, Dempsey’s girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel) seems like she’s going to be a conniving snooty bitch, but turns out to be a nice person too.

Between **Superman Returns, Enchanted **and the **X-Men **movies (where he played Cyclops), James Marsden seems to specialize in these kind of roles, doesn’t he?

Hm, I am tempted to add King Kong, even though it’s more a love triangle; still, Fay Wray’s smaller boyfriend could be considered passive enough to make the list.

I am also not sure about The Quiet American (2002); Fowler is definitely a good guy but Pyle, though the protagonist, doesn’t qualify for hero.

To flip the genders around a bit, Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding

With bonus points for The Notebook, even!

Yep. And Lana’s boyfriend Whitney, in Smallville, was a nice guy.

Casablanca’s a great example; I’ve always had a crush on Victor Laszlo, especially during that Marseilles scene.

I’d say Greg Kinnear’s role in You’ve Got Mail sort of fits, although he is a bit pompous; he’s still supportive of Meg Ryan’s Kathleen and his heart’s in the right place.

Speaking of Tom Hanks rivals, there’s also Chris Noth in Cast Away.

… Tom Hanks’s former dentist who marries Helen Hunt in the years while Tom’s off futzing around on a swanky desert paradise. We don’t learn that much about him, but he seems like a nice enough guy, successful, and of course, played by Chris Noth so he’s also good lookin’. He ends up with Helen Hunt, too…

There’s a pattern here among Tom Hanks movies. Interesting that his roles don’t seem to require the douchey rival. (Though I’m sure there are exceptions in there.)