Aaron Eckhart has spent most of his career perfecting his ability to be a smarmy, misogynistic asshole. There's something about his look--blond hair, big chest, chiseled face--that makes you just want to smash him in the pie-hole. Before he did it in Erin Brockovich, he developed it in Neil Labute's films. It's a dangerous combination, Labute and Eckhart, because Labute has the ability to construct misogynistic monstrosities, and Eckhart has the ability to bring them to life.

• Nurse Betty (2000)--Unfortunately, the film's plot hinges on Eckhart's death, so his role as the white-trash wife beater is his smallest in any of Labute's films. The rest of the movie follows Eckhart's wife, Betty (Renee Zellweger), as she chases after her favorite soap star, played by Greg Kinnear. In the meantime, assassins Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock are trying to track her down. It's enjoyable, but lacks the intensity and tone of Labute's first two.

•Your Friends and Neighbors (1998)--Another take on the misogynist. This time, Eckhart's character is a fat, middle-aged married man who would rather jerk off than have sex with his wife. He's a weak person in all respects and is almost entirely unsympathetic. The story is well written, and acted by a great cast, including Ben Stiller, Catherine Keener, and Jason Patric.

• In the Company of Men (1997)--Eckhart plays Chad, a businessman in town for six weeks to work on a project. During that time, he conspires with his friend and coworker Howard, creating a plan in which they simultaneously seduce the same woman, and after the six weeks, reveal to her they were both fucking with her head. The idea is cruel enough, but the fact they chose a deaf woman as their victim only adds to the appallingness of the story. The film is both wildly funny, deeply disturbing, and makes its point so viciously that it resonates in a way most movies rarely do. M. WILLIAM HELFRICH