Are Ryan Phillippe's Abs Enough To Convince Audiences To See An Iraq-Themed Movie?

Judging from the TV ads and posters for Stop-Loss, the film looks as if it would be just another teen flick where pretty boys with pretty faces chase some equally pretty girls with equally pretty faces. However, director Kimberly Peirce's first film since Boys Don't Cry is actually a big, serious movie about the plight of soldiers fighting in Iraq. But before you go and tune out the film solely on the basis of it being another one of those dirge-like films, it's worth noting that THR is predicting that this may be the very first movie centered around the War in Iraq that actually breaks through with both critics and audiences:

"The recent boxoffice fate of Iraq movies has prompted Paramount to take a notably careful approach that downplays the war. The movie is being sold as an MTV Films picture with an attractive young cast (Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) that will lure people to theaters for other reasons."

One of those "other reasons"? The chance to see Ryan and rumored marriage breaker-upper Abbie Cornish lust after each other on-screen, a plot line laid on thick in the trailer. Also emphasized are the killer abs of both Phillippe and co-star Channing Tatum. But all this catering to MTV's fan base may not be the dimmest light bulb to go off in a marketer's head. Considering the fates of In The Valley Of Elah ($6.7 million in boxoffice gross), Rendition ($9.7 million) and No End In Sight ($1.4 million), playing up aspects that may appeal to the Us Weekly demographic might just turn out to be a smart move. Even last year's The Kingdom, backed up by non-stop explosions and an A-list cast including Jennifer Garner and Jamie Foxx didn't even crack over $50 million. If abs and tabloid-y love stories are what it takes to get kids in the seats for an Iraq-themed tearjerker, then so be it.