All of the best movies from the Golden Age Of The RomCom – the 1990s – have one thing in common. No, it’s not Meg Ryan, and it’s not Julia Roberts either. Give up? It’s a little boy with a bowl cut. Sleepless in Seattle: little boy with a bowl cut. Father Of The Bride: LBWBC (that’s our abbreviation for Little Boy With Bowl Cut, but I’m sure you caught that). She’s All That: LBWBC… the same LBWBC as Father Of The Bride. All of these little boys with bowl cuts have grown into men by now, so let’s see what they – and their bowl cuts – are up to today.
Sleepless In Seattle
The little boy with the bowl cut: Jonah (Ross Malinger) is a wise-beyond-his-years tot who calls a radio show to find love for his widowed dad, Sam. Jonah is best pals with Jessica, a miniature Gaby Hoffmann. The most badass bowl cut in the genre, little Jonah flies cross-country to help his Pops meet the lady of his dreams.
Was it a good bowl cut? LOOK at this freaking bowl cut. Perfectly follows his head contours, rich brown coloring, neither too puffy nor too limp: this is the bowl cuts all other bowl cuts aspire to be.
Where is he now? Little Jonah attended three different schools during his fourth grade year, as Sam and his main squeeze Annie tried to decide whether to live in Seattle, Baltimore, or somewhere in the middle (which was short lived, because the middle was Kansas). He and Jessica briefly dated in high school. Jonah now works as a travel agent.
Does he still have a bowl cut? I could see that. That full, tidy helmet of a bowl cut is too beautiful to waste.
One Fine Day
The little boy with the bowl cut: Sammy (Alex D. Linz, the most celebrated Boy With A Bowl Cut of the mid-90s) is the child of harried single mom, Melanie (Michelle Pfeiffer). Melanie has a hectic meet-cute when she accidentally swaps cell phones with the harried single dad (George Clooney) of Maggie (an itty-bitty Mae Whitman, whom we now know and love as Parenthood’s Amber). Sammy is a bit less precocious than Jonah. The Sleepless In Seattle bowl-cut boy meant to help his dad out, but this kiddo just keeps tying up his mom’s schedule so that she keeps running into Clooney. Important thing to remember about this movie: it was long enough ago (1996) that the mere fact that both adults had cell phones that they used outside of emergencies meant that they were very busy and important.
Was it a good bowl cut? It’s a bad bowl cut. Not bad in the “not good” sense but bad like hardass and dripping with danger. Look how ruffled and sun-bleached it is. It’s a bowl cut on the edge, and neither comb nor convention can constrain it.
Where is he now? Like most neglected children, Sammy is a pretty happy kid because nobody’s keeping tabs on him. He’s also a pretty hellish teenager. The adults manage to make their relationship work, and Sammy and Maggie spend high school smoking and drinking and throwing parties during their parents’ frequent business trips. Inspired by his stepdad’s career, Sammy goes to J-school and gets nepotismed into a low-status section of the New York Daily News, before ultimately getting downgraded to a staff blogger.
Does he still have a bowl cut? No way.
You’ve Got Mail
The little boy with the bowl cut: Matthew Fox (Jeffrey Scaperrotta) is the little half-brother of Joe (Tom Hanks), the heir to a book megastore dynasty. Together with Joe’s aunt Annabel (a little girl), Matt serves the purpose of making Joe seem more kind-hearted and appealing to children’s bookstore owner Kathleen (Meg Ryan).
Was it a good bowl cut? Yeah, it’s fine.
Where is he now? After Annabel’s father dies (because he is like 80), she moves in with Matt’s family and becomes his sort-of sister. Then Matt’s father dies too, not because I have a particularly bleak outlook on things but because those virile Fox men fathered children into their 70s. Anyway, they both move in with Joe and Kathleen, and there’s no real family strife. Their fake mom runs a children’s bookstore and Matt wears turtlenecks, for goodness sake. They’re perfect. Matt’s biggest rebellion is choosing the Boxcar Children over The Bobbsey Twins. In the present day, Matt heads up the children’s division of Fox Books. Kathleen maintains an infuriatingly cute mommy blog/ Pinterest account. You saw how cute her shop is.
Does he still have a bowl cut? Oh, he absolutely still has a bowl cut.
As Good As It Gets
The little boy with the bowl cut: Spencer (Jesse James) is our most delicate Little Boy With A Bowl Cut. You can tell because his bowl cut is blond and tousled, not a robust brunette bowl cut like the healthier Sammy or Matt. He has an unnamed, mysterious disease which worries his waitress mom Carol (Helen Hunt), but not enough to keep her from hooking up with an old guy (Jack Nicholson).
Was it a good bowl cut? You know how, when a human dies, even if you were lukewarm on them before, once they’re dead they were your favorite and the very best? Well. This bowl cut was my favorite and the very best.
Where is he now? RIP. That mystery disease was bad news.
Does he still have a bowl cut? No. Because RIP. That bowl cut was a fair flower, not long to blossom in this world.
Father Of The Bride
The little boy with the bowl cut: Matty (because boys from RomComs are named Matthew) is Annie’s kid brother (because women from RomComs are named Annie). When she comes home from Europe and announces her engagement, the whole family falls into a tizzy planning the wedding, as dad George (Steve Martin) struggles to let go of his little girl. In the sequel, Father Of The Bride Part II, Matty’s mom (Diane Keaton) and sister are both expecting babies at the same time
Was it a good bowl cut? No, it was the WORST bowl cut. Lank and flat, like whatever the less-full version of a bowl is (colander maybe?).
Where is he now? After watching his father wax nostalgic about playing basketball with big sis Annie – seemingly forgetting that he still had a small child at home – Matty realizes he’ll never measure up to his sister. Instead, he focuses on being the best big bro possible to Baby Megan. There was recently a rumor that Steve Martin would be filming a sequel where he plays the father of the groom (an all-grown-up Matty!) in a same-sex wedding. I like that. Let’s go with that.
Does he still have a bowl cut? I have never seen a bowl cut on a gay man, although I’m sure they must exist. So, in a word, no.
She’s All That
The little boy with the bowl cut: Your eyes aren’t fooling you, you’ve seen that bowl cut before! Kieran Culkin, the baby brother from Father Of The Bride, is the baby brother once again. He and his sister Laney are raised by their single dad after the death of their mother. Unlike Laney, Simon realizes that Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a trashy garbage dude-bro. Simon also has hearing aids, for some reason. On one hand it’s very cool to have a disability that isn’t an issue in a movie, on the other hand WTF just tell us what’s up with his hearing, you know?
Was it a good bowl cut? With all due respect to those great PSAs, it gets worse. It’s PARTED. There’s a tendril on his FOREHEAD. It’s like a limper version of Dorothy HAMILL.
Where is he now? Trudging through every family Christmas with his much-hated brother-in-law Zack, playing with his nephews Brayler and Kylan (because of course that’s what Zack The Bro would call his children), doing something in I.T. probably. He got cochlear implants, not that anyone really noticed or cared about Simon’s hearing anyway. Or Simon in general.
Does he still have a bowl cut? Nah. He only had that to cover his hearing aids.
Bowl Cuts: An Epilog
The craze (?) for Little Boys With Bowl Cuts continued into the romantic comedies of the early 2000s. The golden age was over, but lustrous bowl cuts still made appearances in About A Boy, Love Actually and Raising Helen. With the post-9/11 economy and Great Recession, the cost of maintaining bowl cuts became too much to muster. The bowl cut may have died, but as long as we have Netflix or Cable TV, they will live in our hearts and screens forevermore.