Stan & Ollie

Release: Friday, December 28, 2018 (limited)

→Theater

Written by: Jeff Pope

Directed by: Jon S. Baird

Unlike the lengthy run the real-life subjects enjoyed in their careers, director Jon S. Baird’s passion project Stan & Ollie seems over before it has even begun. This isn’t me knocking the film for being slight, but because I enjoyed each precious minute like they were little fudge truffles maybe I just wish there were more of them, especially when Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are involved, and when they are this good together. They truly make this movie worth savoring.

Stan & Ollie is a lovingly crafted tribute to one of the most famous and beloved comedy acts of all time. It provides insight into both the creative genius behind the comedy and the friendship that endured behind the curtains. Coogan and Reilly play Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy respectively and I really don’t know who is better. Both. They’re both better. As history shows, the inimitable double act kept some pretty amazing company, yet even amidst their contemporaries — Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to name two — they became slapstick icons unto themselves, appearing in over 100 silent and sound productions and with starring roles in more than 20 full-length features from the 1920s into the mid-40s.

They incidentally met as cast members on the set of The Lucky Dog (1921)though they wouldn’t officially be recognized as ‘Laurel and Hardy’ until years later, when they signed separate contracts with producer Hal Roach and shared the screen in the silent short Putting Pants on Philip (1927). Laurel, whose average build looked childlike standing next to the 6-foot, 300-plus-pound Hardy, more often than not played the hapless friend to Hardy’s pompous buffoon and a common theme of their act revolved around simple misunderstandings, demonstrated most often in the visual but occasionally expressed in cleverly conceived dialogue — their “Tell me that again” routine being a classic example.

Rather than turning his tribute into a filmic tick list of everything notable that happened, Baird concentrates on a period much later in their careers, focusing on their urgency to stay in business well after the height of their fame. The essence of their camaraderie — by extension their career — is distilled into a familiar road trip comedy. After getting down to literal business in a key opening scene, one that depicts an unhappy Stan Laurel refusing to renew his contract with Roach (Danny Huston), the story leaps forward sixteen years and follows the aging pair as they attempt to mount a big-screen comeback, a potential spoof of Robin Hood. To that end they embark on an exhausting tour of the United Kingdom in 1953, playing to diminishing crowds in obscure and forgotten music halls*, their close relationship and even their own health becoming strained in the process.

The effectiveness of Stan & Ollie very much mirrors that of the iconic two-man show. It just wouldn’t work without the right personnel, and with the Mancunian Coogan portraying the English Laurel, and Chicago-born Reilly pulling his pants up well past the point of where a traditional waistline goes to become the American Oliver “Babe” Hardy, Baird’s film is in some very capable hands — arguably the ideal hands. Reilly, perhaps more so than his co-star, has staked much of his reputation on playing the lovable oaf his character in this movie became typecast as. Look no further than the projects he teams with Will Ferrell on. Coogan, on the other hand, is a drier wit but no less entertaining. I’m thinking immediately of Hamlet 2.

As an homage to comedy, Stan & Ollie plays out more as a Greatest Hits performance rather than offering a deep dive into the treasure trove. That level of discrepancy allows for a more streamlined narrative, and will undoubtedly disappoint some viewers who might be expecting revisits to certain famous gags. However, we do get treated to some of the classics, like the bedside manners bit from County Hospital (1932), where Laurel, in paying a visit to his bedridden friend, creates quite the ruckus, eventually stringing the large man up over his own cot by his comically oversized leg cast. Baird uses this specific gag (admittedly only the first few minutes of it) to exemplify the depth of their creative and personal bond. When we see Laurel later attempt to rehearse the same sketch with a different actor — this is at a point where the guys are taking some time away from each other —  it just doesn’t feel the same. Laurel’s unease in fact leads to the cancelling of that night’s performance — much to the chagrin of their inept tour manager, Bernard Delfont (a perfectly smarmy Rufus Jones).

Jeff Pope, on balance a formula-friendly screenwriter, also gets inventive with the way he repurposes other bits — a highlight being an inversion of their famous piano-up-the-stairs scene, wherein the duo, having grown quite tired of lugging around their massive shipping container that is their traveling wardrobe, let go of it on a public stairwell and watch it slide down two flights. Yet the writing is rarely more moving than when things start to get a little tense between them. At a party thrown in their honor in London, attended by a number of Important People as well as their respective wives — the uppity but ultimately loving Ida (Nina Arianda) and the kindhearted but helium-voiced Lucille (Shirley Henderson) — past troubles resurface and it all leads to some gentle pushing and shoving, a dynamic misinterpreted by the public as a comedic act playing out in real life. It’s certainly a low point for them, yet the moment isn’t played so seriously it fails to inspire some laughs for us.

The tone of that scene is really Stan & Ollie in a nutshell. The water is never scalding hot nor freezing cold. This isn’t a movie of extremes. Instead it’s one made with reverence, arguably to a fault. It is deathly afraid of coughing in a quiet room. All warts have been removed with an airbrush. Still, I find it hard to resist the simplicity of the tale. Their comedy is brilliantly reimagined by two skilled, modern funny men. The characters are lovable and Coogan and Reilly are relishing the opportunity to pay homage. Even if the story never strays from formula and there is never a shred of doubt over where things are going, I couldn’t help but get lost in the moment.

* this is apparently more for the purposes of demonstration in the film, as in reality the pair even during this time were selling out big venues in major cities

Recommendation: Sweet, charming and very much to the point, Stan & Ollie is a must-see for longtime fans of one of the world’s most famous comedy double-acts, as well as a “You Really Should See” for anyone bemoaning the state of the modern comedy and searching for a re-set button. Also, the film is directed by the same guy who made Filth — if you haven’t seen that one, it’s a decidedly different kind of comedy starring James McAvoy as a brute of a police officer. The difference between the two films is night-and-day. Not sure if that is so much a recommendation as it is a bit of funny trivia. 

Rated: PG

Running Time: 98 mins.

Quoted: [Hardy] “I’ll miss us when we’re gone.”

[Laurel] “So will you.”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.thewrap.com

Month in Review: October ’18

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

October is a tough month to survive if you aren’t as into horror as others are, and if you don’t necessarily make your blogging bread-and-butter out of talking about scary movies. As long time readers of this award-winning blog (I’m not bullshitting you — I got a Liebster Award, ya’ll!) are aware, I have slowly but surely been gaining an appreciation for the genre over these years, in part thanks to a number of great sources whose awareness of what’s actually out there has inspired me to do some digging myself. In the years since doing this, my definition of horror and what’s “scary” has evolved, and I really like that.

With that said, I don’t think I produced one single horror review this past month. It wasn’t like I planned this, or that I had no options (the resurrection of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode in David Gordon Green’s Halloween: The Great Retcon, or can I interest you in a new Jeremy Saulnier picture in Hold the Dark?) Man, I really messed this thing up this month, didn’t I? I think the scariest thing that happened was the backlash following Damien Chazelle’s First Man, a movie about astronaut Neil Armstrong and his successful Moon landing. The number of ignorant comments I read regarding that movie was truly frightening. It’s one thing to not like the way the film was made — in fact that’s understandable — but it’s quite another to dismiss First Man as a work of fiction or the omission of the flag planting symbolic of “typically Hollywood revisionist history.”

With that off my chest, it’s time now to take a look back on what films I did review this month on Thomas J (plus two bonus blurbs on things I ran out of time on). Let’s do it!

Beer of the Month: 21st Amendment’s Back in Black IPA


New Posts

New Releases: A Star is Born (2018); First Man; mid90s


Another Double-Header 

Bad Times at the El Royale · October 12, 2018 · Directed by Drew Goddard · Boasting a talented and inspired ensemble cast and an atmosphere rich in foreboding, Drew Goddard’s Agatha Christie throwback mystery-thriller, set at the titular El Royale — a once-happenin’ travel destination set on the California/Nevada border now falling to the wayside — follows multiple perspectives as a group of guests become caught up in a fight for survival as slowly but surely each one’s true identity becomes revealed. A film packed with fun performances, including Jeff Bridges as Father Flynn, Jon Hamm as a “vacuum cleaner salesman” and Chris Hemsworth as a cult leader with a Thor-like physique (but far less in the way of David Koresh-like credibility), Bad Times‘ true gem lies in Cynthia Erivo’s Darlene Sweet. I flat-out loved that character. One of my favorites of the year, in fact. The central mystery keeps you engaged, even if you might sniff out who the survivors will be sooner than Goddard might have intended. (3.5/5)

The Sisters Brothers · October 19, 2018 · Directed by Jacques Audiard · A modern western that fails to draw you in in the way it really could have, the star-driven The Sisters Brothers is still worthy of your time. But with great star power comes great responsibility. With characters brought to life by the likes of John C. Reilly (as the elder Eli Sister), Joaquin Phoenix (as gin-soaked Charlie Sister), Jake Gyllenhaal (as John Morris) and Riz Ahmed (as gold prospector Hermann Kermit Warm — what a freakin’ name!), it’s a frustration that the film never builds enough energy and intrigue around the obviously committed performances. The story emphasizes character over traditional western shoot-’em-up action. Over the course of two REALLY LONG hours, the ideological divide between its leads takes center stage, with one Sister wanting out while the other brother is resolutely all about this life. Survival is dealt with in a more grisly manner than what many might expect, particularly of a movie that also bills itself as a comedy. Aside from a compellingly subversive ending, I think my biggest takeaway from The Sisters Brothers is that there is no substitute for good, honest, hard labor when it comes to looking for gold during the height of the Gold Rush. Chemistry has never seemed so . . . gross. (3/5) 


ANYWAY. How was your Halloween? 

Kong: Skull Island

Release: Friday, March 10, 2017

[Theater]

Written by: Dan Gilroy; Max Borenstein; Derek Connolly

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts becomes the latest to cash in on the recent trend of indie directors gone Hollywood, going from The Kings of Summer to a blockbuster that reimagines the king of the apes in all its primal glory in Kong: Skull Island, a fun throwback to creature features of the 1960s and 70s.

In it, a group of intrepid explorers comprised of government agents, Vietnam vets and various other useful experts travel to a remote island in the Pacific on a surveying expedition. The mission runs into a bit of a snag when they encounter the 100-foot-tall hulking ape known as Kong, whose territory they have begun bombing in an attempt to “learn about the landscape.” His retaliatory action lays waste to a fleet of choppers, killing several of the hapless tourists in the process and scattering the rest across the prehistoric jungle.

Kong: Skull Island proves antithetical of its Monsterverse sister Godzilla in almost every way. The focus is on more beast, more noise, more general mayhem. Less on those little threads of humanity that made each encounter with the nuclear lizard back in 2014 that much more interesting. The characters here merely serve to get us closer to the action, which is appropriate considering what the artists over at Industrial Light & Magic have accomplished. Kong: Skull Island is a visual effects delight and it should be allowed to show off a little. Did you see the number of names listed in the Visual Effects column in the end credits?

The biggest mystery surrounding this movie involves budgetary allocations rather than Kong himself. This monster movie’s cast is monstrously huge and yet only a triumvirate seems required. John Goodman plays Monarch agent Bill Randa, a man just crazy enough to get Senator Richard Jenkins to help fund his monster-hunting habit. Goodman’s a pro and makes his part enjoyable. Then there’s Samuel L. Jackson as Lieutenant Colonel Packard who has been tapped with providing Randa and some of his friends aerial support to the island. Packard’s function is to be the overbearing alpha male who wants to drop Kong himself after that initial attack cost him some of his men. Turns out, Packard has left Vietnam but only in a physical sense.

John C. Reilly is the only other significant role player here. He’s arguably the only one that really matters. He plays a World War II pilot who has been stranded on the unforgiving island and has ingratiated himself with the native tribe that also happens to be hiding out there. Luckily, it’s John C. Reilly who is given a role that ends up carving out significant space within the narrative. In the manner that SLJ plays SLJ and Goodman does a great Goodman impression, Reilly is reliably himself. Collectively the three have enough acting chops to take on Kong themselves and make it a rollicking good time.

But then there are talents like Tom Hiddleston and Oscar-winner Brie Larson stuck in acting purgatory, filling supporting roles that could have gone to anyone. The former plays a British tracker and ex-military man here to say “You can’t bomb this island” and Larson’s pacifist photographer succeeds in annoying more than just the fiery Packard. Meanwhile, Toby Kebbell gets a slightly more robust part but the actors who played Dr. Dre and Easy-E in Straight Outta Compton are totally expendable. And apparently Thomas Mann had a part, too. Who else did I miss, Kevin Bacon?

Fantastical, formulaic and occasionally frustrating, Kong: Skull Island isn’t an adventure epic that’s built to withstand the test of time or particularly intense scrutiny but what it offers is good old-fashioned, smash-mouth entertainment. Buy the biggest bucket of popcorn you can — you’re going to need it.

Kong SMASH!!! +500 pts

Recommendation: Kong: Skull Island is a bonafide crowd pleaser with its big special effects, trumped-up 3D marketing campaign and a list of famous actors longer than your arm. It’s all a bit over-the-top but then again this IS a movie featuring a 100-foot-tall gorilla. And for those who lamented the way Gareth Edwards handled his monster movie, maybe Jordan Vogt-Roberts will be your new best friend.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 118 mins.

Quoted: “I’m going to stab you by the end of the night.” 

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Photo credits: http://www.posterspy.com; http://www.imdb.com 

The Lobster

'The Lobster'

Release: Friday, May 13, 2016 (limited) 

[Theater]

Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos; Efthymis Filippou

Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos

Outré black comedy The Lobster might be likened to a religious experience for those looking for their fix of anti-Valentine’s Day sentiments. If you look hard enough you  could even find enough evidence to validate its romance label as well, but it’s so weird and so brutally dispassionate, even the most bitterly spurned, those who firmly believe they’re forever damned to loneliness, may become exhausted in their effort to keep up with its madness. And really, this dystopia is quite mad:

Single people are being persecuted; they’re getting abducted from The City — somewhere in England or Ireland if accents are anything to go by — and brought to an isolated hotel miles away where the staff insist they find a suitable romantic partner within 45 days, otherwise they will be transformed into an animal of their choosing and cast out into the woods beyond. Turns out, it’s neither a joke nor a mind game. There’s a room actually called The Transformation Room where, apparently, it all goes down. Should the unlucky sod find him or herself still single on day 45, Olivia Colman’s hotel manager advises them to partake in some activity that they won’t be able to once transformed. A one-night stand, for example, would be a waste of precious time given that animals still have the ability to fornicate.

Our best chance for understanding how the world operates in The Lobster lies in David (Colin Farrell) and his journey from being recently dumped to finding companionship in the most unlikely of places. And I know that’s a cliché, but I’m talking the epitome of unlikely places; so much so that the symmetry is almost cloying when he runs into Rachel Weisz’ Short-Sighted Woman after his ordeal at the hotel. He escapes and finds a group of stragglers abiding to their own equally radical but opposing ideals: The Loners, led somewhat ironically by Léa Seydoux and constituted by fellow hotel escapees, are vehemently against the pursuit of romance and intimacy.

Dress codes and segregative practices — you can extrapolate the latter to the two major factions we come across, as well as to the way single people and couples are treated differently in The Hotel — lay the groundwork for brutal revelations: in this world, the sum total of who we are is measured by our ability to attract a mate. Single people are lower down in the social hierarchy than couples. Sex isn’t much more than a survival strategy; it’s procreation, not love, that conquers all. The steel-blues and grays of Thimios Bakatakis’ cinematography reinforce an achingly melancholic mood.

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, in his fifth feature presentation, tackles the loneliness and despair of single-hood, an approach that dovetails nicely with the sacrifice of being in a relationship and he does so with a conviction as forceful as an avalanche against a lone pine tree. Strange, stilted dialogue castrates the piece of humanity, while the frankness of conversations recalls Wes Anderson . . . really, really pessimistic Wes Anderson.

One might naturally assume Lanthimos has it out for those who can’t help but remain stubbornly (or maybe just hopelessly) single, but he’s actually more critical of the societal pressure that falls upon everyone to couple up. While there are few rules governing how “loners” should meet others, The Hotel encourages bonding over physical traits, even ailments and/or disabilities, no matter how superficial those connections may seem. Ben Whishaw’s Limping Man goes to some extreme lengths to get with this girl he likes who happens to suffer from frequent nose bleeds. John C. Reilly is convinced once he meets a woman with a speech impediment like his he’s set for life. Suicide entices some to escape in a different way. All of this becomes a driving force for David to make the decisions he makes.

There’s not a lot of happiness in The Lobster. I think that much is obvious. But it bears mentioning again. The warning sirens must be heard clearly before too many enter the film with certain expectations. It’s one of the most brutal black comedies I’ve seen, capped off by one of the most memorable endings 2016 has yet produced. Presently I struggle to reconcile my enjoyment of Lanthimos’ work, when only two years ago, I was babbling incessantly about my distaste for John Michael McDonagh’s similarly pessimistic Calvary. The two share more in common than I really would like to admit.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 12.22.09 AM

Recommendation: The mileage one gets out of this cynical view on modern relationships I think will depend on one’s own propensity for being cynical themselves. Performances are universally strong, although this is very much a ‘message’ film. However, that message is unlikely to make an impact upon those who can’t latch on to the absurd tone, dialogue/speech patterns and occasionally shocking developments. This is quite a heavy watch but it’s also one of the most unique releases 2016 currently has on tap.

Rated: R

Running Time: 119 mins.

Quoted: “Why a lobster?” / “Because lobsters live for over one hundred years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives. I also like the sea very much.”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

JCR Factor #9

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

Genre: comedy/drama/romance

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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JCR Factor #8

Welcome back around to a new edition of the John C. Reilly Factor — Thomas J’s latest character study. If you’re looking for more posts just like this, be sure to visit the Features menu up top and check out sub-menu, John C. Reilly!

This eighth entry comes a bit later in the month than usual, but better late than never, right? Anyway, today we have yet another small bit part in a movie from last year that had everyone and their mother talking about how great it was. There was a great deal of analysis provided for this film as well as passionate essays about how incredibly well this particular gamble paid off for Marvel Studios. The five main characters have certainly enjoyed their time in the spotlight, and I think it’s time now to turn it to one of the supporting players who managed to contribute to the fun of this movie in a cameo. Sure, this is minor stuff when compared to Mr. Reilly’s other contributions, but hey — it still counts.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Trailer-John-C-Reilly-Peter-Serafinowicz

John C. Reilly as Corpsman Rhomann Dey in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Role Type: Supporting

Genre: action/adventure/sci-fi/fantasy/comedy/ridiculous

Character Profile: Corpsman Dey is one of many who belong to planet Xandar’s highly-regarded Nova Corps, the high-tech gizmo-obsessed intergalactic police force. As Corpsman, he has achieved the highest rank within the force. He has much to be proud of. Dey is also an old acquaintance of Star-Lord (a.k.a. Peter Quill), having previously arrested the rebellious Earthling-turned-Ravager for petty theft (not shown in the 2014 film). He again runs into Star-Lord following an altercation involving him, Gamora, Rocket the Raccoon and Groot on Xandar, arresting them all and bringing them in for questioning during which they learn little beyond what Dey had already known: Peter Quill is one sarcastic dude and has a chronic inability to take anything really seriously. Dey has a wife and a child who narrowly escape death thanks to the efforts of Rocket in a major attack sequence involving Ronan the Accused. Though Dey warns the Guardians that future criminal activity won’t be tolerated, he gives the ragamuffins a full pardon in light of their valiant efforts in defeating the least charismatic villain you’ll find in almost any film.

If you lose JCR, the film loses: a fairly humorous interrogation scene. Granted, this scene would have happened anyway, but oh boy does Mr. Reilly add a layer of deadpan humor to proceedings. While relegated to a glorified cameo part in this massive cast of characters, he manages to remain memorable. Reilly’s sense of humor and ability to deliver with a dead-serious face adds another layer to a film already deep in its comedic sensibilities. He also manages to bring about an affability that makes it very easy to cheer for him as the events of the film build towards a ridiculous intergalactic battle. It’ll be nice to see if he makes a return in Volume 2.

That’s what he said: “He said that he may be an . . . ‘a-hole.’ But he’s not, and I quote, ‘100% a dick.'”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):


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Photo credits: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

JCR Factor #7

Welcome back around to a new edition of the John C. Reilly Factor — Thomas J’s latest character study. If you’re looking for more just like this, be sure to visit the Features menu up top and check out sub-menu, John C. Reilly!

I’ve found another Adam McKay piece to tide you over until I can actually get my hands on another of his more dramatic performances. While I do think Reilly functions very well under McKay’s brand of comedy, the whole point of this feature is to prove the actor’s range across a variety of genres. I once more feel like I’m coming up short on that, but alas here we are. Even still, this may not be much of a surprise, but his Cal Naughton Jr. is a pretty fun one to talk about. Here we go!

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John C. Reilly as Cal Naughton Jr. in Adam McKay’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Role Type: Supporting

Genre: Comedy

Character Profile: Who is Cal Naughton Jr, you ask? You mean, aside from being the perennial push-over, the yin to NASCAR legend Ricky Bobby’s yang? Cal’s a thoughtful, caring man, a fierce competitor and loyal shake-and-baker. You see, behind every great racer there stands the second-greatest racer, and Cal has, over many years of having to voluntarily lose to Ricky in fear of destroying their friendship, become comfortable with his lot in life. Yet, despite his fear for crossing Ricky Bobby during a race, there lies dormant within him a desire to be more than a step stool to his race partner. When Ricky goes down in an unfortunate fire-related accident, the moment comes for Naughton to step up and prove to himself more than anyone else what he’s really made of.

If you lose JCR, the film loses: its competitive comedic edge. This film largely works due to the chemistry between Reilly and Ferrell, relying on a kind of competition off the race track wherein the actors try to out-ridiculous one another. It’s pretty obvious why these two want to keep making movies together.

That’s what he said: “I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo tee shirt because it says, like, ‘I want to be formal, but I’m here to party too.'”

Best shake and bake moment: “Hey, I just wanna say to all you other drivers out there, if you smell a delicious, crispy smell after the race, it’s not your tailpipe. It’s a little bit of . . . shake . . . and then bake!”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):

 

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Photo credits: Google images 

JCR Factor #6

Greetings one and all. Thanks for joining Mr. Reilly and I for another edition of the John C. Reilly Factor — Thomas J’s latest character study. We move into September and back into drama with a look at a character I’ve only very recently been introduced to.

This month, I have to be honest, is a rather random selection. I’ve been patiently waiting for an opportunity to get to some of his bigger roles, like the glaring omission I still have in the form of his part in Gangs of New York. Perhaps there are other roles he has that I haven’t seen that are a bit more substantive than the last couple I’ve focused on. If anyone has suggestions, I’d glad to hear them and see where I can go next month. To find more related material, visit the Features menu up top and search the sub-menu Actor Profiles.

John C. Reilly as Dan Brown in Stephen Daldry’s The Hours

Role Type: Supporting

Genre: Drama

Character Profile: Dan Brown fits the profile of a typical 1950s husband. The sole breadwinner of the household, he goes off to work each morning at 8 to come home to a wife and child around 5. Soft-spoken, polite and generally easygoing, he seems a perfect gentleman. But beneath the surface there’s an emotional coldness about him, as Dan has been maintaining a distance between himself and his wife for some time. It has gotten to the point where he’s oblivious to his wife Laura’s increasing dissatisfaction with her lot in life as a housewife. On the occasion of his birthday, all Dan can say is how thankful he is of having a loving, caring wife. Whether he’s aware of quite how disturbed Laura has become being left alone at home all day every day, isn’t very clear. But if Dan says he’s happy then that’s all that matters, right?

If you lose JCR, the film loses: . . . not much. I don’t want to say Reilly is miscast here but he could certainly be replaced by just about anyone in this role. Dan is so peripheral he almost doesn’t matter. I watched this movie with the impression he had a much bigger role to play but this particular character simply does not bear much weight on the overall narrative. And it is certainly not a knock against Stephen Daldry’s drama. His film relies far more on the strengths of its female leads than those of the males, hence Reilly’s skill set isn’t really ever put on full display.

That’s what he said: “The thought of this life, that’s what kept me going. I had an idea of our happiness.”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):


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Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com 

JCR Factor #5

For some reason, August is already here. You know what that means? Time for a new edition of the John C. Reilly Factor — Thomas J’s latest character study. To find more related material, visit the Features menu up top and search the sub-menu Actor Profiles.

As reliable as the man always seems to be, one can’t help but notice there are certain roles of his that seem interchangeable. Today I was going to go with a different comedic role but then, while browsing images on Google I came across a particularly striking image and knew right then and there what my next focus was going to be. John C. Reilly is many things, but in the case of this edition of this feature, he’s . . . bald.

John C. Reilly as the older version of Arnie Shankman in Peter Segal’s Anger Management

Role Type: Supporting (uncredited)

Genre: Comedy

Character Profile: Dave Buznik’s childhood nemesis, that good old wedgie-giving thug known as Arnie Shankman, may be one of Reilly’s more limited roles but that doesn’t mean he’s limited in his effectiveness. As a childhood bully, Arnie grows up regretting all of his aggressive behavior and secludes himself to the woods, surrounding himself with peace and quiet and becoming deeply contemplative and meditative. That is, until Dr. Buddy Rydell pressures Dave into facing his past as another way of exorcising his angry demons. Insisting this will be for his benefit, Rydell assaults the now introspective Shankman with a tirade of insults that effectively reawaken the jerk within.

If you lose JCR, the film loses: one of the film’s better cameos. There are more memorable turns from the likes of Woody Harrelson’s transvestite prostitute Galaxia (an image I will never get out of my head), but Reilly does an admirable job handling a very brief appearance that surprisingly runs the gamut of emotions from remorse to deep-seated anger. This is one Monk you do not want to rile up.

That’s what he said: “Answer me, Buznik. Did you get it on . . . with my sister?”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):


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Photo credits: http://www.sharespark.net 

JCR Factor #4

July, along with sweltering temperatures, brings you the fourth edition of the John C. Reilly Factor — Thomas J’s latest character study. To find more related material, visit the Features menu up top and search the sub-menu Actor Profiles.

I’m not sure if anyone has ever rated JCR’s sexiness on a scale of 1 – anything. Does anyone actually think about this actor in that way? No? Okay. We’ll just continue, and pretend I didn’t introduce this next performance in that way. . .

John C. Reilly as Reed Rothchild in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights

Role Type: Supporting

Genre: Drama

Character Profile: An adult film actor, failed poet/writer and aspiring magician, Reed Rothchild is like many a young and wide-eyed Los Angelino waiting for their break into show biz. While always on the lookout for a better gig he is, for the time being, satisfied with his contributions to famed adult film director Jack Horner’s colorful filmography. When a new actor arrives on the scene in the form of Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler, initial tensions eventually give way to a lasting friendship that sees both young bucks jettisoning to the fore of America’s most recognizable adult film stars. Unfortunately it is a career path that proves to be just as (if not more) dangerous as it is alluring.

If you lose JCR, the film loses: Reed Rothchild — nothing more, nothing less. As much as John C. Reilly has presence in Boogie Nights, someone else with similar comedic timing and style could fill in for him and the role wouldn’t significantly change. The real strength of this film comes from its storytelling — the overarching journey of the lead(s) from the ’70s party scene and into the comparatively more gloomy and financially less secure ’80s. Reilly gets kind of swept up in the grandioseness of yet another PTA masterpiece. While his character is fun to watch interact with newcomer Dirk Diggler, Reed doesn’t have a big enough part in this film to evoke significant emotions. Count on Reilly to give a great performance but in a film crammed with mesmerizing performances he feels ever so slightly more expendable than usual.

That’s what he said: “You know, people tell me I kind of look like Han Solo.”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work): 


All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.rowthree.com