Sunday, August 5, 2007

What's the opposite of Adopt an Actor?

Shun an Actor? Disown an Actor? Mock an Actor?

If you want to ask yourself, "How far downhill can an actor's career go?", you don't have to go back in film history to Bela Lugosi or Errol Flynn or any other actor who was cast aside by the system when they got older. All you have to do is look at the career of Cuba Gooding Jr. He use to show up in good movies, really good movies. He wasn't always the star in these good movies, but he did good work and helped make those movies better. Here's a partial list of good films from earlier in his career.

Boyz in the Hood
A Few Good Men
Outbreak
The Tuskegee Airmen
As Good As it Gets

Little noted from this era of general quality films featuring Cuba Gooding Jr. was a little comedy called Lightning Jack, in which he co-starred with Paul Hogan. I didn't see it, but friends of mine did, folks who usually give somewhat more generous reviews that I give. They hated this movie with a white hot hate. To steal a line from Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000, it's not just that Lightning Jack was the worst movie ever made. It was the worst thing ever made.

It was also the awful blueprint of much of the rest of his career. I give as examples these horrible films from later in his career.

Snow Dogs
Boat Trip
Rat Race
Daddy Day Camp

The last on this list is in theaters as we speak. It is a sequel where the original actors refuse to show up. While sequels are of mixed quality, sequels without original casts uniformly stink. You didn't see The Fly Too? The Sting II with Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis? Caddyshack 2? You are a fortunate person indeed if saw none of these.

"New comedy with Cuba Gooding Jr." is not so secret code for "Avoid at all costs".


Then we come to the movie that made Cuba Gooding Jr. an Oscar winner. Some people love Jerry Maguire. I am not some people.

Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this film. He also wrote and directed Say Anything, which I did like very much, so I always give him some credit, even after I see yet another mess of a film he has made since then. To me, I saw a crass attempt to combine a sports film with a chick flick, much in the same way that Titanic is a special effects disaster film/chick flick.

Some people love the lines "Show me the Money!" from the sports movie part and "You had me at hello." from the chick flick half. For me, I will always remember this as the film where Cameron Crowe wrote dialog for Frank Gifford, Al Michaels and Dan Dierdorf that made them sound stupider than they are in real life. That, gentle readers, takes some doing, since Frank Gifford really is as dumb as a bag full of hair and Al Michaels and Dan Dierdorf are enormously pompous windbags who wind up sounding stupid by their own self-importance.

As for Gooding's Oscar, maybe Hollywood thought it was brave for a male actor to do a nude scene with Tom Cruise. Though to be fair, if you are in the shape Cuba Gooding Jr. was when he made Jerry Maguire, it's not so much brave as show-offy.

Matty Boy says save your money and time on comedies starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

17 comments:

sfmike said...

I actually loved "Rat Race" for the Jon Lovitz Barbie Museum sequence alone, though Cuba had a humiliatingly bad part if I remember correctly. And I haven't seen either "Snow Dogs" or "Boat Trip," but they are reportedly so truly terrible that they almost sound like guilty pleasures. And I agree with you completely on "Jerry Maguire" and Cameron Crowe. Hate them.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Right on, Matty! JERRY MAGUIRE was repulsive with that "show me the money!" stuff the worst of all. Jay Mohr, though, was the best of a bad lot.

Now, as to the subject of your post today, the un-estimable Cuba Gooding, Jr., I could not agree more, but the writing was on the wall even with his "good" movie, BOYZ IN THE HOOD. He was so completely out-classed in that movie by Larry Fishburne and Ice Cube that he seemed to disappear entirely. I literally cannot remember his character at all, while "Furious" and "Dough-boy Daryl" still stand out in my mind.

I will always love Cuba Gooding, Jr., for one thing, however. I went all-in on him to win Best Supporting Actor BECAUSE that stupid line of Crowe's had become such a part of the culture.

Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s career is not exactly in the dumper as he continues to make money, but nothing about his early career roles "showed me" nothing but "money", certainly not talent.

Took Kelso, Jr., to see The Simpsons last week at the Pacific Multiplaza Mall here in Paitilla and there was a trailer for Ryan Gosling's new movie with Anthony Hopkins. Nice to see Gosling getting "shown a little money" as EVERYTHING about his early career has said SUPER-BIEN and good for him.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

And, Matty, as you've been the first supporter of the FOREGO'S NUTS sports blog, you get a bonus here. Tom Cruise is not the only closeted gay man in this post. The other is -- give that man a cigar...FRANK GIFFORD...ask anybody who lived in the Village when Gifford was on the Giants what sort of stuff Gifford got up to at a place called THE NINTH CIRCLE.

FranIAm said...

Oh Matty so many gems here...

Just the thought of MST3000 makes me scream with laughter. The worst thing ever made. I must go dust off some old videos tonight and watch. It could be the perfect night for a screening of Skydivers!

And Say Anything... At least I have that one on DVD not video.

Jerry McGuire -eew and ick. Although I would have never come up with my Condi/Tzipi "you had me at shalom" line without it. Still eww and ick.

Is it awful if I add Radio to the bad Cuba list?

Another Mattylicious post.

Matty Boy said...

I didn't see Radio, so I'll have to take your word for it. Compared to other dreck like Daddy Day Camp, I have to say that the ads for Radio did not make me say "Five strong men could not drag me to this movie." That is my usual response to any movie where Cuba is at teh top of the cast list.

FranIAm said...

It feels unkind for me to mock movies about the developmentally disabled.

But it was total emotional manipulation crap even if it did have a strong civil rights message to it.

Crap is crap even when wrapped in a higher message.

It was on tv one night and since my husband doesn't have cable we have so few choices. It was like watching a burning wreck, we couldn't look away.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Forgot to give you props for SAY ANYTHING. Three factors make this a strong movie: 1) JOHN CUSACK 2) JOHN MAHONEY 3) THAT THE MOVIE HANGS ON A QUESTION OF TAX FRAUD

Matty Boy said...

There was a time when John Cusack in the cast was recommendation enough to see a film. Sadly, that day is done, but he's still very good at his best.

Going High Fidelity on the topic, top five John Cusack movies.

Eight Men Out
High Fidelity
Say Anything
Being John Malkovich
Grosse Point Blank


I did this list off the top of my head without checking imdb; I'm sure someone can find others that deserve mention.

FranIAm said...

To that I must add "The Sure Thing"- which also has some great Tim Robbins moments in it. Antony Edwards, not so much, but he was there too.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

I can only think of two others: THE GRIFTERS and CITY HALL and I agree with Fran about THE SURE THING. Didn't he also have good cameos in TAPS and BOB ROBERTS?

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Matty & Fran:

I'd be curious to read your opinions on Ryan Gosling. He strikes my a lot like Daniel Day-Lewis or perhaps Sean Penn in that he can play ANY kind of role. Both his aggression in THE BELIEVER and his passivity in HALF NELSON were intense. Looking forward to his first big-time lead in this upcoming thriller. There are mixed opinons about the movie HALF NELSON. Some people who are too-cool-for-school have said it's mawkish. I completely disagree. The movie's brilliance is the diametric opposite of that point of view. The script takes every hot-button issue in the world and makes them all seem very ordinary which basically is how life is. It also follows the great SEINFELD rule of: NO HUGGING, NO LEARNING.

And forget "Show me the money!" as a catch phrase. I'll go with "Uhh...one thing doesn't make the man, you know" Gosling's character's non-defensive defense of his crack smoking.

Whole story of the making of HALF NELSON is pretty interesting.

Matty Boy said...

I haven't seen any Ryan Gosling yet. Like with Edward Norton, I may have to play catch up.

The Grifters is an EXCELLENT choice. I also liked The Cradle Will Rock, but it's a much smaller role than usual for Cusack.

FranIAm said...

What he said. (really!) I must go get some Gosling into the DVD and then I will let you know.

Edward Norton. Great actor. Dreamy man. Deep sigh.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Norton is a very interesting story, too. Fran never gets my sports analogies but there is a perfect PGA analog to Norton. Bruce Lietzke. He had the world of talent and was born into in billions in Texas. Norton is the heir to the Rouse Property Development fortune. Lietzke never played a lot of tournaments but his results were always excellent. Ditto Norton.

Neither man "needed" to pursue the career he did, but we're dedicated to and excellent at each.

Just taking a wild guess here, but I think either Ed Norton, Jr., nor Bruce Lietzke has any interest as a rich white men to keep the boot on anyone's neck.

The Southern Baptists are doing a fine job on their own.

dguzman said...

Oh Matty! Beautiful post, and great comments -- Grosse Pointe Blank and The Sure Thing should be bottled for great Cusack moments. Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer were passable as well. I agree he's lost his zing.

As for Cuba, how the hell he beat William H. Macy's Jerry Lundegaard from FARGO (pure greatness) is beyond me. I guess you're probably right in that The Academy thought they were being color-blind. But more like just plain blind.

Matty Boy said...

Like Dances With Wolves beating Goodfellas for Best Picture, this is one of those decisions from the Academy that will look bad for all eternity.

If not longer.

Splotchy said...

If I could put my two cents for the opposite of "Adopt An Actor" -- Abandon An Actor?

Seeing as that on my own blog I regularly urge people to adopt actors, I feel like I can't in good conscience join in the actor bashing.

However, I feel perfectly fine in saying that if director Joel Schumacher never made another movie, and if through some freak accident, all of his past movies disappeared, I would not be filled with longing or regret.