I was confused by the ending line of the following sentence from the article titled, “The last, disposable action hero” in the February 28th edition of Time magazine:

“American movie market now makes up less than a third of global box-office receipts, studios tend to favor projects featuring explosions, car chases and doomsday scenarios — a universal language of violence that translates easily in China, India, Brazil and Europe. Almost without exception, the movies stars some beefcake with pecs that make Ben-Hur’s seem puny.”

Oxford Advanced Learners’ English Dictionary defines beefcake as:

Noun: (slang) men with big muscles, especially those that appear in sex show and magazines.

But the text drops a "be" verb between 'the movie stars" and "beafcake." It doesn't appear to me somehow flow smooth.

Is “beefcake” being used here as a verb to mean showing off their big muscles?

Why is the word “some” necessary, after emphasizing “Almost without exception,”? What meaning does the word, “some” add to here?


As hindsight, I came to realize that “the movies” is the subject, “stars” is the verb, and “(some) beefcake” is the object. In my above question, I took “the movies stars” a subject as I thought it should be “star,” not “stars,” if the ‘star” is a verb, because the subject (the movie) is in the plural form. Is “The movies star*s* some beefcake with pecs” grammatically right expression?

  • 1
    I think your PS is the correct parsing with stars as a transitive verb.
    – Henry
    Mar 1 '14 at 10:38
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    It ought to be "the movie stars" or "the movies star". "The movies stars" is probably a misprint which has thrown you off in interpreting the rest of the sentence.
    – tobyink
    Mar 1 '14 at 11:18
  • The NY Times version here uses "star". Mar 1 '14 at 11:23
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    Update: That beefcaking session lasted much less time than anticipated. Almost no sooner than it started, my wife told me to “stop goofballing around.”
    – J.R.
    Mar 1 '14 at 12:18
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    @JR. I concur. My wife keeps telling me "Stop english-stackexchanging at your age. You’re PC-bounded. We don’t have much time left.”
    – Yoichi Oishi
    Mar 1 '14 at 21:37

No, I think in this case the movie star IS "some beefcake with pecs that...", so beefcake is used as a noun. It has the same usage as the word "man" or "dude" or "hunk".

The original writing is a bit odd. It would have been more clear if they had said "Without exception, the star is some beefcake with pecs that make Ben-Hur's seem puny."

If you wanted to use beefcake as a verb, you could use beefcake or beefcaking, as in "hey, look at that loser over there trying to beefcake 500 lb barbells. Or look at that dude over there beefcaking the 500lb barbells. Or even "Oh, my, he is so beefcakey!"

These aren't typical usage (usually a noun), but with a word like beefcake (which I think may have been invented in a South Park episode [apparently this is not the case]) I'm pretty sure you don't need to worry too much about typical usage. At least not in speech or informal writing.

  • 2
    I think "stars" is a typo for "star", which makes much more sense in context. Also, you say: "beefcake (which I think may have been invented in a South Park episode)" -- I'm aware of at least one usage that predates South Park (in the song Loser by Beck). I doubt this was the first.
    – Jules
    Mar 1 '14 at 10:13
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    @Jules - I think "stars" might be correct, and is used as a verb. So "...the movie stars some beefcake..." would be the same usage as "...the movie features some beefcake...".
    – Eli
    Mar 1 '14 at 21:17
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    yes, but I think it's intentionally using "movies" in plural to mirror the previous sentence which was referring to "projects", so should have "star" for the 3rd person plural verb form.
    – Jules
    Mar 1 '14 at 21:32
  • @Jules either that, or it should have said movie. In fact, given that I corrected another typo in the quotation it seems likely.
    – David M
    Mar 1 '14 at 22:34

You would not use beefcake as a verb. You could (as with any noun) but it's not particularly common.

In the usage you've highlighted it is being used as a noun.

The word beefcake is not meant as a compliment. It carries an implication that someone has more muscles than intelligence.

In other words what they are saying:

Almost without exception, the movie stars some muscular guy with huge pectoral muscles that would make Ben-Hur's seem puny.

Ben-Hur is a reference to Charlton Heston in the movie by the same title.

To answer your second question, some in this context means any old or a random or it doesn't matter which. The inference is that there are a lot of guys with big muscles out there who star in these movies, and it doesn't really matter which one you get because their acting skills aren't all that different or important (so long as they have big muscles).


"Cheesecake" is a traditional slang term for photos (or other images) of attractive women, especially movie stars and most especially those photos which show the women in seductive poses or less than fully clothed. Presumably this comes from the analogy of something sweet and soft.

In recent years, the back-formation "beefcake" has been introduced as the masculine equivalent.

Properly, both cheesecake and beefcake are adjectives applied to characterize the images in question. But in context they are sometimes used as nouns, meaning an image of this type. The usage may also be generalized to refer to movie scenes, or indeed to individuals seen "live".

The closest thing to a gender-neutral equivalent that I can think of is "eye candy", which is sometimes used to refer to a visually attractive individual.


Calvin seems to think it is ok to Verb Nouns :-) http://briangirer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/cnhVerbingWeirdsLanguage.gif

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