Friday, August 25, 2006

Next of Kinnear

Can you consider an Oscar nominated actor underrated? Maybe, in the case of Greg Kinnear. "Meteoric" doesn't begin to describe his early career path. Filmography highlights: hosted "Talk Soup" on E! until 1995. Filled William Holden's shoes in the remake of Sabrina in 1995. Hosted "Later" on NBC until 1996. Got the Academy's attention for 1997's As Good As It Gets.

And then? The aspiring actor's more realistic dream: a steady career. He's had a healthy mix of high-profile supporting work (Nurse Betty, We Were Soldiers) and low-budget starring roles (Auto Focus, The Matador). Last week I saw advanced screenings of each: Invincible and Little Miss Sunshine.

Invincible is the latest in a genre that Disney has mastered these past few years: the inspirational true sports story. Like
Glory Road, Miracle, Remember the Titans, or The Rookie, we relive a purer era of sport that retains all of the action and none of the sex and profanity. And it totally works every time.

Mark Wahlberg takes time out of his busy pants-dropping schedule to play Vince Papale, a regular guy who happens to be built for pro football, despite little organized experience in the sport. He becomes a beacon of hope among his working-class union friends, straight out of a Philadelphia production of On the Waterfront. He gets his chance to become a contender when new Eagles coach Dick Vermeil (Kinnear) holds open tryouts.

It's hard to make audience members care about a special teams player whose primary job is to run down the kickoff returner, but the movie makes it work. Kinnear and Wahlberg do not share a lot of screen time, but still manage to drive home the theme of making the most of an opportunity when given a clean slate.

Little Miss Sunshine is, well, a very different film. The title creates the expectation that creepy child beauty pageants (revived in our memory by recent events) will be mocked mercilessly, and they are, but only in the film's last half hour. It's everything that comes before the climactic competition that makes this movie so special.

This is a quirky family comedy that manages to avoid all the pretentious traps of other quirky family comedies. (I'm looking at you, Wes Anderson.) The film works because
each family member provides the others with just the right amount of therapy, despite their individual insecurities.

I imagine most of the praise will go to Steve Carell's tragicomic portrayal of a suicidal academic, but I was more impressed with Kinnear's tougher role as the unlikable motivational speaker and family leader. No complaints, though, from what should be the year's best acting ensemble.

All in all, Greg Kinnear has had quite a run. You accept him on screen, completely forgetting that he wasn't always known as an actor. Consider, by way of comparison, another snarky ex-host with a similar name, who also worked his way up the TV ranks before graduating into movies: Craig Kilborn. That's the more common story: typecasted, into the same comedic jerk persona.

55 Fiction Friday feels typecast as a storyteller.

The checkpoint guards believed that Samuel merited special attention. After all, this was not a case of racial profiling. This was science.

Their stacks of news alerts had emphasized shoe bombs and liquid explosives, so the decision was swift and fierce. Dr. Scholl be damned; in this airport, Samuel would most certainly not be gellin'.


Janelle Renee said...

I enjoy reading your movie reviews and thoughts.

I saw Little Miss Sunshine this past weekend. What a delightful movie!

slskenyon said...

Mark Walberg--there's someone that I could certainly live without. How can anyone respect a guy that once went seriously by the name Marky Mark? You're at least right about Disney--although one can get sick of the formulaic films, they do work and people do like their wholesome approach.

MysticDollarRedemption said...

Nice review.

I'm looking forward to he UK release of this one.

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