Welcome back around to the latest and final John C. Reilly Factor — Thomas J’s latest character study. If you’re hankering for more posts just like this, be sure to visit the Features menu up top and check out sub-menu, John C. Reilly!
It’s a shame I could only make it to nine with this feature. I could have come up with an even-number of these posts had I not procrastinated so much earlier in the year. Alas, here we are in December and with me not wanting to extend the feature into the new year. No, I didn’t get to Gangs of New York. No, I didn’t get to watching Hard Eight nor Wreck It Ralph nor The Aviator. I also neglected roles like Dewey Cox, John (from Cyrus), Franklin (from We Need to Talk About Kevin), Maury Slocum (Life After Beth), Amos Hart or the voice of #5. I know. That’s a lot of stuff I could have talked about this year but there are, after all, so many hours in a day and so it is with this potentially lesser-known (or more forgotten) role that I bid adieu to this feature.
John C. Reilly as Tucker Van Dyke in Lasse Hallström’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Role Type: Supporting
Character Profile: Tucker is a small-town, good-natured man who wants to find better work for himself so he can improve the quality of his life. He is, for all intents and purposes, an everyman who is at once easy to identify with and easy to be around. In Endora, everyone knows everyone and of course Tucker has been friends with Gilbert Grape for years. Throughout the film he’s seen lending a hand as Gilbert makes repairs around the rundown family home in which his morbidly obese mother has been hiding herself for over 7 years. Tucker has aspirations of getting a job at the Burger Barn, a new fast food joint that is brought in with hopes that it will boost the small-town economy.
If you lose JCR, the film loses: one of its most charming characters. This isn’t one of those roles where I have trouble envisioning anyone else playing the part and yet Tucker Van Dyke gives Reilly yet another chance to show his versatility as this is one of his most stripped-back and humble characters I’ve yet highlighted. A highly affable, helpful man but one who still has a quirky mannerism or two that would likely not be there had the character been imbued with anyone else’s style. Certainly not the most meaty role, his Tucker makes the small Iowan town feel a little less depressing and a little more friendly.
That’s what he said: “Listen, I saw a guy at the state fair who was . . . a little bigger. Look, all I’m sayin’ is that she’s not the biggest I ever seen, okay?”
Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):
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