April 28, 2015

The Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker Miscasting Awards

I love Keanu Reeves and Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker's Dracula because Reeves is so great in The Matrix, so great in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and so bad you have to laugh at him and his ridiculous English accent as he helps Dracula buy a house. There's plenty of movies with untalented actors. But there's a special category of miscasting full of talented actors who just don't fit the character or the movie. Sometimes it makes the movie worse, sometimes the movie is better but different than it was originally written, and sometimes the movie is better. Take a step back from the movie and cast a critical eye (pun intended) on the casting of these movies...

Gene Wilder as The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles

61-year-old Hollywood veteran Gig Young was originally cast as The Waco Kid, but his active alcoholism forced Mel Brooks to fire Young and his friend Gene Wilder flew cross-country to take over the part. An actual aging sharpshooter would have made more sense (Wilder was only 40 when he made the movie) but Wilder is so supremely funny, he's only "miscast" in that he doesn't look the part. When Brooks originally cast Young, perhaps he had lost sight of the humor of the role while pursuing the authenticity of the role?

James Caan as Santino Corleone in The Godfather

He has the energy and the attitude, but he's the least Sicilian-looking actor ever, especially in a movie stocked with terrific Italian-American actors. He looks like the one adopted by Vito Corelone, not Tom!

Anna Camp & Brittany Snow as Aubrey & Chloe in Pitch Perfect

Perhaps the strategy was to cast older-looking upperclassmen to make the freshman recruits look younger, but Camp and Snow were age 30 and 26 when they played, presumably, college seniors (who are typically 22 years old.) Note: Anna Kendrick is actually older than Brittany Snow, and Rebel Wilson was older than all of them!

Freddy Rodriguez as El Wray in Planet Terror

Freddy Rodríguez was badly miscast in the lead role, the badass with a mysterious past "El Wray". When you're looking for a Snake Plissken type, you don't cast a guy who measures 5 foot 6. The entire cast towered over him, and when he stripped off his shirt to reveal his scarred, tattooed body, I almost laughed out loud at his sunken chest. He looks like a "before" photo in a Charles Atlas ad in the back of MAD Magazine.

Matt Damon as Max in Elysium

Despite his performance as Will Hunting back in the 1990s, Matt Damon is unconvincing as a street rat gangster ex-con, reformed onto the straight-and-narrow. The movie justifies his whiteness within an all-minority community by explaining he's adopted, but it would have made much more sense to cast a Latino actor. Big-budget movies require movie stars, so...

Amy Poehler as Angie in Baby Mama

The good news is, Baby Mama is hilarious and I would never wish Poehler and Fey not make a movie together! But take a step back from the comedy genius and consider the cold hard numbers: Fey and Poehler were 38 and 37 when this movie came out. It would have made a hell of a lot more sense if Poehler's character were 10 or 15 years younger than Fey's character.
Re-watching Baby Mama in 2015, I found it hilarious that the actress Poehler was so fit with a very flat belly while playing a pregnant lady in Baby Mama, but beginning a year later, Poehler would have to hide her new mom body while carrying two children as the child-free Leslie Knope on Parks & Recreation.

Jennifer Lawrence & Christian Bale as Rosalyn & Irving in American Hustle

It makes no sense to cast Christian Bale as a over-the-hill, fat, bald, Jewish con man from Long Island. To his credit, he lives and breathes the part. Every moment is genuine. It just makes no sense coming from this actor!
Jennifer Lawrence is supremely talented, very funny, but 15 or 20 years too young to play a faded beauty desperately clinging to Bale's character as her last chance to maintain her way of life. She just turned 23, she's one of the best-looking women on Earth- why is she so desperate to hang onto this dissolute con man when there are scores of men who'd love to marry her and support her? My wife pointed out that another Jennifer would be much better cast in this role - Jennifer Aniston was 45 years old when this movie was made and she'd bring a great combination of faded beauty and comic timing to the part.

Jessica Alba as Susan Storm in Fantastic Four

You had one job, casting director: cast a blonde woman with blue eyes who looks good in a super suit to play the Invisible Woman Susan Storm. Jessica Alba looks great in the super suit, but her wig and colored contact lenses convinced exactly no one that Alba has blue eyes and blond hair. While we're talking about regrettable colored contact lenses, it's bad enough miscasting a famous and established fictional character; miscasting a famous real person is worse. Johnny Depp's eyes look bizarre in the trailers for Black Mass. Depp's complexion is a poor match for the real Whitey Bulger already, but making him wear phony-looking contact lenses was a mistake.

Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in Beyond The Sea

This film could not have been made without Kevin Spacey, yet at the same time it is doomed to failure because of Kevin Spacey. Kevin Spacey's devotion to Bobby Darin's life story, and his talent for performing Darin's songs, make for a fascinating movie with great musical performances. The problem is, Spacey has been too old to play the part for at least 15 years. Spacey turned 45 in 2004. It is ridiculous to watch Spacey play a 25-year old Darin romancing a 17-year old Sandra Dee, played by age-appropriate Kate Bosworth. Spacey (who directed and co-wrote the movie) opens his film with a lame, paranoid device showing the middle-aged Darin filming his own autobiography, as if we can suspend our disbelief as the 45-year old Spacey, jowls and all, romances a teenager? It simply doesn't hold together.

Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining

I love The Shining, it's a terrifically scary movie, but (and I am not alone here) there's no drama in the transformation of Jack Torrance from family man to possessed killer. At best he's a detached prick at the start of the movie, and at worst, he's already crazy before they even move in. There's no tragedy of the Torrance Family falling apart because we never see any love between them to begin with.

Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthorpe in Trading Places

Aykroyd is always funny, and he does a fine job mocking the blue blooded aristrocrat class, but he does not look like a tenth generation WASP whose great grandparents came over on the Mayflower.

Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Like Jack Torrance, Roy Neary seems kind of manic and crazy before his close encounter, so his journey from middle-American, corn-fed electric company worker and family man to obsessed loner is not so dramatic. When he melts down, crying in the shower, it doesn't seem so weird for a bag of neuroses like Dreyfuss. According to the IMDb, director Steven Spielberg approached Steve McQueen and Gene Hackman for the Neary part, and either would have been amazing- to see these earnest dramatic, serious actors totally melt down would have been a much more dramatic journey.

Penelope Ann Miller as Tina Sabatini in The Freshman

Aren't there a hundred Italian-American actresses who would play a Mafia princess more convincingly than Miller? A thousand?

Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat in Ghost

Now bear with me- Swayze is all heart and soul after he dies, but he seems an odd fit as the cold fish stock broker at the beginning of the movie, the closed-off husband who says "ditto" instead of "I love you too."

Tim Robbins as Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham

Tim Robbins turns in a terrific performance as "Nuke" Laloosh, a rookie pitcher with a million-dollar arm but a 5-cent head, but I noticed a line in the movie which reveals what writer/director Ron Shelton might have had in mind when creating the character. When Crash Davis and Annie Savoy take some swings at the batting cages, Davis complains to Savoy "What'you see in that guy? He's a dim pretty boy. A young, wild..."
The words "pretty boy" stuck out in my brain this time. Shelton cast the talented and hilarious Tim Robbins as Laloosh, and he's convincing as young, wild, and dim, but I suspect Shelton imagined Nuke to be pretty too- the locker room sex scene with Millie makes more sense if Laloosh were good looking too.
I feel like I'm really piling on now, and remember that I love this movie, but Robbins was 29 years old- only three years younger than Costner- when he played a rookie in his first season in rookie "A" ball, a league normally filled with kids in in their early 20s.

April 17, 2015

Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice Teaser Trailer Leaks