20 August 2008
I've long had something of a mental list of actors whose movies I'd check out more or less just because they were in it, not on any other merit (or at least I'd look for no further motivation). Sometimes such an approach has worked out for me, and sometimes it hasn't*.
Recently, though, I think I'm starting to develop a second list of actors who I don't like, whose movies I check out despite starring or being prominent in them. Top of the list, now that I've watched Jumper would be Hayden Christensen. I have other objections to the movie, but his turn as the main character was definitely not something I liked.
But that's just one movie. It's not like I've watched others he's also starred in recently, right? Except for the otherwise quite good Shattered Glass, again in which I could not stand him. The only way to tell if it was his character or Hayden himself I despised would be to remake the film, but everybody else did so well in it that doing so would be a great disservice to all.
Speaking of disservice to all, a rant about the lackluster acting of Hayden Christensen would not be complete without at least a mention of his take on pre-Darth Vader Anakin Skywalker in the latter two prequels to the Star Wars trilogy, through which he broods, mumbles, smolders and whines, but is greatly overshadowed for awfulness by the films themselves.
So of the four movies mentioned here, a mere one of them was even worth seeing despite him, and then, only just so. So why do I even try?
* Take, for example, John Cusack. Stephen King's 1408 would not probably have been a movie I'd readily check out, other than John (and to an almost insignificant degree, Sam Jackson) is in it. But it was enjoyable enough. Not so, on the other hand, was Identity**, or the overrated Grifters. I'm in the middle of the road on Martian child, and will readily admit to only watching it for Cusack, not the premise. And I won't watch it again, I'd say.
** Which brings to mind another, less prolific (at least, as far as I have seen) actor whose work also would prompt addition to a list of actors I don't like: Pruitt Taylor Vince. Not long ago I watched The Legend of 1900 in which he figures quite prominently, and, well, there's no nice way to say it but to see the guys is distracting. He has a condition called nystagmus which means his eyes move involuntarily. Which means when they show his face in closeup, his eyes are darting all over while he's talking and acting and whatnot. I suppose that says something about my character, to let such an insignificant detail overshadow what could well be some fine acting, but that, and my less-than-great appreciation for jazz, sunk that movie for me. Vince has been in many a film I've seen, some passable (Constantine and Nurse Betty) and others not so great (S1m0ne), but the only other one in which he's at all memorable to me is Identity, in which his nystagmus doesn't really work against him - it's just a bad movie.