Sunday, July 08, 2007

façade: Steve M. & Steve C.

Few things are as disheartening as when an especially intelligent, observant comic actor undercuts his own talent, something that currently hounds Steve Martin and, to a lesser degree, Steve Carell, both farceurs extraordinaire.

Martin was once Mr. Reliable, one of the few reasons to go to a movie.

There were such inventive, sophisticated screen comedies, listed in no particular order, as “Roxanne” ... “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” ... "Joe Gould's Secret" ... “Bowfinger” ... “Little Shop of Horrors” ... "Novocaine"... "HouseSitter" ... “Parenthood” ... “L.A. Story” ... "All of Me" ... “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” ... “The Man with Two Brains” ... “Grand Canyon” and ... most audacious of all, “Pennies from Heaven.”

Heck, I even love such underrated Martin titles as “The Lonely Guy,” “Movers and Shakers," “My Blue Heaven,” “Leap of Faith” and "Mixed Nuts," which I'm convinced is primed for a major rediscovery.

But then, unexpectedly, came his toxic family-friendly films – the inferior “Father of the Bride” duo and the unwatchable “Cheaper by the Dozens” twins – and, well, nothing has been the same. Need I mention “Sgt. Bilko” or the unnecessary remakes of "The Out-of-Towners" and “The Pink Panther”? Or that “Shopgirl” was a major disappointment?

Anyway, it took Martin about ten years to succumb to the lowest common denominator.

Carell, unfortunately, didn’t waste any time. He lifted our spirits and hopes in the past couple of years with a memorable supporting role in the alert “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” a bravura star turn in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and a seamless team-player turn in “Little Miss Sunshine.” But now, after less than only two or three years in films, Carell has relegated himself to ... “Evan Almighty.”

I’m hoping it’s only a blip, an aberration, and that it doesn't mean that Carell will tackle his own remakes of “Father of the Bride “ and “Cheaper by the Dozen.”

But if it makes enough money...

Next up for Carell: “Dan in Real Life,” opposite Juliette Binoche, which sounds promising, and “Get Smart,” which - well, pardon the pun - doesn’t sound very smart.

(Artwork: The many faces of Steve Martin and Steve Carell, farceurs extraordinaire)

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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com

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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com


Carrie said...

Whatever one thinks of "Cheaper By the Dozen" (not very much, sez me) and "Father of the Bride" (which I like for the chemistry between Martin and Diane Keaton), Martin has done a pretty balanced job of making one movie for himself and the next for the box office. Making least-common-denominator films has given him the power to make "The Spanish Prioner," "L.A.Story, "(______your Martin title here)" that we love. He's smart in that he knows -- unlike Robin Williams -- that he's too old to understand the twentysomething market he owned 25 years ago with "The Jerk," "The Lonely Guy" and "The Man With Two Brains." Just reading the words "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" makes me laugh. (Did you know that one was Edith Head's last credit?) About Steve Carell, too early to judge...

JH said...

FYI. Carell also did some good work as Uncle Arthur in "Bewitched" and in a small bit in Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda," both with Will Ferrell. I'm trying to overlook "Bruce Almighty," although he was very good in it. By my count, "Evan Almighty" is only his second starring role in a movie, where he actually has to carry the film.

joe baltake said...

Carrie-- I agree wholeheartedly with you about Martin's chemistry with Diane Keaton in at least the first "Father of the Bride" film, but then Keaton seems to have chemistry with everyone these days, doesn't she? Still, the material is way beneath both of them.

J.H.-- Thanks for reminding me of Carell's turns in "Melinda and Melinda" and "Bewitched," both very easy to forget.

Brad Tompkins said...

Joe, I agree with Carrie that you are way too premature about Carell. The guy has only made about six films. Give him a break!