Monday, June 11, 2007

Celebwatch: The Owen Wilson Trajectory

I've thought more than once about blogging on a little thing I called the Owen Wilson career trajectory. It's an interesting phenomnon to see a once funny, smart and highly crushable actor gradually circle the drain of mind numbing medicority.

But why would I tell you about this when I fear someone else may be able to do it for me. Over to you Mr Steve Carell. Oh okay shut up, I'm not saying he's there yet but I'm slightly chilled by the fact that he is starring in the coming sequel to Bruce Almighty - Evan Almighty - a film that, honestly, does not need to be made. (And yes I know this casting news has been out there for ages but, you know, I'm pretty busy and important).

To most people not acquainted with The Daily Show, Just Shoot me or, you know, Curly Sue, Carell came on to the radar with Anchorman - an overrated but pretty funny movie.He cemented his position with the highly amusing 40 Year Old Virgin and the pretty well acclaimed American series of The Office. (I haven't personally watched it because Ricky Gervais will always be David Brent for me but I hear almost only good things.)

I think Carrell plays very well as part of an ensemble cast, even when he's in a leading role, but I have borderline grave concerns about what will happen now that he seems to be moving into that territory where his movies are "the new Steve Carrell" movie rather than anything identifiable or memorable. For instance: in 40-YO he had the inestimable Paul Rudd and that other guy from Freaks and Geeks to play off - In Little Miss Sunshine he got to be the dark humourist in an otherwise slightly sickly sweet story. In The Office I assume the quality of the ensemble is as good as the UK one, which is a leg up indeed. In Evan Almighty I imagine it's just going to be him and... well, hopefully more laughs than the first installment.

Carrell should take a good, long look at his ol' pal Will Ferrell who is currently locked in a death grip with Owen Wilson to see who goes down the plughole first. (Ben Stiller, meanwhile, is looking on from a distance and preparing to fight the winner).

The Owen Wilson trajectory (or Will Ferrell trajectory if you like)has followed a different course for these two actors, probably because they both took different routes to success - one via Saturday Night Live and a series of slightly mental roles; the other via some work on-screen and behind the scenes on some cult, borderline under-the-radar movies. Wilson will forever be my Butterscotch Stallion for his work with Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and (shut up) Shangai Noon (I said shut up: you know you loved it too).

I have considerably less love for Will Ferrell but he was great in Zoolander and um, you know some other stuff. These days Ferrell is cruising on a series of increasing "zany" and "mad-cap" roles in decreasingly less funny movies. Wilson, too, is looking increasingly depressed and depressing with middle of the road stuff like Wedding Crashes, Shanghai Knights and Cars and the downright shite like Around the World in 80 Days, You, Me and Dupree and Night at the Museum.

For me, Carrell is taking the first step towards this slow death by mediocrity by agreeing to be in a sequel with the basic premise of 'let's try to milk the dead cow'. I'm not saying it's time to sound the death knell for Carell yet (I still have hope that he and Wilson, in particular, can get it together and team up for something awesome) by any means.

But I am waving the red-flag and calling him in for a pit-stop, some refuelling and a tough talking to.


Dave said...

The American version of The Office is painful - it's not necessarily bad, it's just, well, American.

Bolton said...

Actually Thom and I watched Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction last night (you know the one where his life is being narrated by Emma Thompson).
We nearly didn't get it because Thom hates Will Ferrell (as do I actually), but my LOVE for Emma Thompson won the day.
Actually a very good film. I mean, truly clever writing plus an otherwise great cast (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah). There is a scene where the writer (Thompson) is having a conversation with her character (Ferrell) who is begging her not to kill him off, that I just absolutely loved an adored.
Anyway, my point is, Ferrell did a great job in the role. There is a swing in his trajectory.

my name is kate said...

I agree on Ferrell being (improbably) good in Stranger than Fiction - I had forgotten about it altogether. I have not, however, been able to erase the memory of the preview for Blade of Glory from my mind. Until I see what he’s got in store next I shall withhold my judgment…

And yeah Johnsy I don't want the American version to sour The Office for me so I've been steering clear... for now anyway.