Monday, June 25, 2007

Dear Insert Name of Traditionally Comical/Light Actor, Stop.

We are taking a brief hiatus from our series of dispatches on the Crescent City to address an element of cinema that has troubled me for several years. I first noticed this disturbing trend several years ago (actually, I probably became subliminally aware of this when I saw all of Arnold's movies in 1992), but it wasn't until yesterday that it was brought to the forefront, when I found a video next to the garbage downstairs and brought it up to the apartment to watch. It was one of those "For your consideration" tapes that award show voters get in the hopes that they'll be blown away by whatever performance the movie is showcasing, ensuring at the very least a nomination for someone. In this instance, it was a "For your consideration" in support of Drew Barrymore for Best Actress in 'Riding in Cars with Boys.' According to imdb, she was only nominated for a Nickelodeon Teen Choice Award - beaten by my BFF Natalie Portman for one of the Star Wars movies - so I'm thinking the Best Actress campaign fell on deaf ears.

At any rate, I watched the movie yesterday and was inspired to compose a list of actors and actresses who are generally known for comedies or light fluff romances, but are actually very good in a dramatic role and for some reason choose not to pursue that line of acting. To me, this is one of the greatest tragedies of mankind.

1. Drew Barrymore.

I'll go on record as someone who doesn't like Drew Barrymore. I don't like two star romantic comedies that keep Jimmy Fallon in the public eye, and I don't like recovered drug addicts who aren't nearly as fun when they're sober and not making movies called "Poison Ivy." That said, she should have been nominated for about 50 movies in the mid-1980s, notably "Cat's Eye," and it should come as no surprise that when she buckles down and tackles roles that don't require inane giggling and hair twirling, she's legitimately fun to watch. In Donnie Darko, she plays a cynical English teacher who specializes in Graham Greene idolatry and provides an intellectual foundation for the supernatural shizzle that permeates that movie, and totally nails it. I would contend that the same is true in "Riding in Cars with Boys," which, for all the Lifetime themes swirling around the storyline, succeeds because of Drew. STOP MAKING CHARLIE'S ANGELS MOVIES.

"This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that 'Cellar Door' is the most beautiful."

2. Robin Williams.

Question: If I knew I had the ability to act, and act well, you know what I wouldn't do?
Answer: Jack, Flubber, Jakob the Liar, Patch Adams, Bicentennial Man, Fathers' Day, RV and about 20 other truly shiteous films that were widely released for some reason.
Robin Williams is a great, great actor when he's not hamming it up and waving his bear arms at everyone like a mad man. I have to think that this has to be about money, because he probably makes 10 times as much for something like Mrs. Doubtfire (which I did like) than for a less commercially viable endeavor like One Hour Photo, and I'm sure the fanbase he has acquired with his shtick provides even further incentive to keep the dramatic roles at a minimum. But think of the possibilities! We know he has this legitimately dark, drug-addled side - if he could channel that annually into a movie like Insomnia dot dot dot.

Even if I saw Robin Williams out of character on the street - I wouldn't let him NEAR my disposable camera.

3. Chris Tucker.


3. Jim Carrey.

I've never been able to figure out if Jim Carrey became a comedic box office draw because he possessed genuine timing or if it was a natural byproduct of having the most elastic body since Stretch Armstrong, but, like Robin Williams, pet detective crappola and mentally retarded characters with Madonna tooth gaps bring in the audience, hence forays into drama being rare occurrences. But the guy can truly act - being around our good friend K-Wizzle is clearly a benefit for everyone, and if he didn't pick such lame-o projects to explore his more sober side - cough, The Majestic, cough - maybe we could avoid the inevitable third installment of the Ace Ventura movies.

"ALLLLLrighty then!"

4. Whoopi Goldberg.

She doesn't have eyebrows, but she can really lay into Winona in a mental hospital. If you ever play the Movie-off Game, where you pick an actor or actress and go back and forth naming their movies until someone runs out of titles, you want to pick Whoopi, and you want to save Girl, Interrupted for the end because she's so unassuming slash amazing in it that NO ONE remembers she was even in it. Admittedly, this is partly because Winona was even better - to the point where her greatness emanated out of every kleptomaniacal orifice and was mistakenly assumed to come from Angelina Jolie, but that's another post entirely. I would also contend that another truly great dramatic performance that often goes unheralded for Whoopi is her incredible portrayal of an alpha female hyena in The Lion King who tries to kill Simba several times with her gynormous incisors and repeatedly falls short. I blame Ed.

I will conclude with a picture of a canine relation of an actress who almost NEVER makes comedies.



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