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Sunday, February 13, 2011


Certain actors seem to be ubiquitous. A while back Tommy Lee Jones seemed to appear in a lot of movies (five in 1994 alone), and managed to diminish his appeal that way. He was a ruggedly handsome guy, but seemed to have about as much dramatic range as his former college roommate Al Gore. So theatergoers tired of his gruff-but-good-hearted coot act, and he now appears in fewer movies. 

More recently, Ben Stiller has been Zelig-like. From 2004 to 2010 he appeared in 22 movies. He's actually underrated as an actor, utterly fearless and without vanity. But despite those two admirable traits, he, too, has suffered from overexposure. Look for his output to diminish.

Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in 132 movies (including voice only roles). This is overexposure by any standard. Filmmakers seem to rely on him for all their strident black man roles, and he always obliges. (Al Pacino takes the rest of those roles.) As a result it's hard to repress an "oh him again" feeling whenever Jackson marches onscreen and starts talking/yelling in that stentorian voice.

Most recently, it has been Jennifer Aniston. Most of her movies have been critically panned. But she keeps managing to snag roles by trading off her popularity from Friends and, perhaps, off the public's sympathy for her as the "wronged woman" in the Aniston-Pitt-Jolie love triangle. She is unwilling to take risks as an actress, and appears in one unfunny romantic "comedy" after another.

The other day it hit me who she is: the new Doris Day.

A few decades from now moviegoers will laugh at us for ever having been able to stomach a bland actress of such modest talent and beauty.


Anonymous said...

You're being unfair to Doris Day. Day could sing and, frankly, she was a lot better looking than Aniston.

She also had a more interesting personal life. She had an affair with Maury Wills, for goodness sake!

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
Ha! You're right, now that I think of it.

Just looked up Wills, though, and found that though he claimed to have had an affair with her, she claims it never happened, and was just a publicity stunt orchestrated by the Dodgers.