Monday, January 29, 2007

Mediocrity's Poster Child

I always kind of mentally roll my eyes when someone suggests that there should be an option on a ballot to vote for none of the listed candidates, but when the friendly driver of the Vamoose bus I took from New York back to D.C. last night gave us riders a choice of four movies to watch on the second leg of the trip, I saw where voting no confidence can seem to be the only way. Indeed, as we boarded the bus after a rest stop in Delaware, we were offered the following non-options:

  • Big Mama's House 2
  • National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation
  • Just Friends
  • Rush Hour 2

I wanted to laugh out loud or maybe cry at the wasted two hours I was about to endure. I voted for Just Friends, because it was the only movie of which I hadn't heard. Big mistake. First of all, as their names were flashed on screen, I realized I didn't know any of the actors, which is fine if a movie is trying to aspire to something but a really bad sign if it is merely aiming to be a romantic comedy. If a bunch of D-list actors are involved, you have yourself a D-list romantic comedy. I take that back: I recognized one name. Amy Smart. I somehow know who she is: I had seen her in that bad TV movie series "The Seventies" several years back as well as the movie Rat Race, which John rightly proclaims as having the worst movie ending of all time. The name of the lead man--Ryan Reynolds--was not particularly familiar to me though. Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Reynolds...sounds like I've heard the name perhaps but not instantly recognizable. Yeah, this movie's going to be bad, I thought.

Indeed, the opening scene presents an overweight man (fat suit, of course) sitting in a house in New Jersey in 1995. Fat suits never bode well for anything, especially comedy. The scene was kind of funny though because the heavy man, who turns out to be a high school senior about to profess his love to his best friend, is singing along to the song "I Swear" by All-4-One. I think my own memories of an overnight camp counselor who used to play "I Swear" every night right before our cabin went to bed made me laugh in recognition and appreication of this sad portrayal of being a teen in the 90s. It was all downhill from there, however, with the predictable effort at winning the viewer's sympathy through portraying the mean treatment of our fat protagonist at the hands of others paradoxically coupled with the script's own derision of him (he eats a lot, he is too sensitive, he cries, etc.). Heavy man then vows he will get revenge on all of the people who laughed at him in high school by being very successful. Okay, fine, that's a good enough story, even if it's been done a lot.

Ten years later, he is a Hollywood agent who can get any girl he wants. Fat suit gone, I recognize this man to be Ryan Reynolds, and I now realize I do know who Ryan Reynolds is. He's one of those people who you've seen in a few movies but is easily forgettable, and for good reason. Indeed, I feel a pang of longing for an earlier time when I could not put the name Ryan Reynolds to a face. There's nothing distinctive or interesting about him. He's not attractive, he's not a good actor, and, this lead part in Just Friends is probably the best role he's capable of. He was in "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place." He's a poor man's Paul Walker. [I later recalled that he had a small part in the movie Dick, which I do enjoy, though no thanks to Ryan Reynolds (his part could have been played by a lot of people).] Here are a few actors I equate with Ryan Reynolds, in terms of sheer badness: Jerry O'Connell, Matthew Lawrence, and Seann William Scott. Here's a guy whose biggest aspiration is probably to be in a sequel to Old School. Ryan Reynolds is the Nickelback of movies.

As good as I thought the Vamoose bus ride was, I just have to wonder why they have such an awful stock of movies (the movie that was shown first was RV). And yet, I must also say, there is something elegant about the mediocrity personified by Ryan Reynolds, because if you ever want to illustrate the thorough unremarkable, uninspired, forgettable nature of something, just say two words: Ryan Reynolds.


Anonymous said...

Hey now, don't sell Ryan Reynolds short. His biggest role before Just Friends was the lead of Van Wilder, starring opposite (get ready for this)- Tara Reid. It's one of the dozen or so wannabe Animal House movies that have come out in the last decade, replete with private part jokes and the mandatory ~3 seconds of boob exposure... and he got engaged to Alanis Morrisette!
You should have picked Vegas Vacation.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, Vegas was the only of the vacation films National Lampoon wasn't associated with.

Not that this fact makes up for some of their more current releases...

Elaine said...

Hehe, thanks to both of you. I always appreciate having the record set straight re Ryan Reynolds and National Lampoon. For some reason, I respect RR a little more for being engaged to Alanis Morrisette. I can't really say why.

John said...

wait, seriously, you respect him more for marrying Alanis? Alanis, the same person who was heart broken when she was dumped by Dave Coulier?

Elaine said...

I think mainly because she seems a little smarter than someone like Tara Reid, the likes of whom I would expect him to be coupled. Also, she was in an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Just like Roger Ebert has a proclivity towards liking any movie set in Chicago, I have a proclivity for liking anyone with any invovlement in CYE.