Monday, June 12, 2006

Neither romantic nor comedic: Vaughniston v. Brangelina

So I saw The Break Up recently, for work. Mini review here, and I see they chopped off the end of my piece - so nice of them. Sigh. Anyway, as ridiculous as it sounds and as much as one can take sides when one doesn't know any of the participants, I'm firmly in the Vaughniston camp.

It's well-nigh impossible to watch The Break Up and not think about the Jennifer Anistion/Vince Vaughn/Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie love rhombus; as impossible as it was to do so watching Mr. & Mrs. Smith last year. These are pretty, famous people whose love lives are more interesting than the movies they've made, more or less, and anyone who denies he or she is going to see The Break Up to check out Aniston and Vaughn's chemistry is lying. You sure won't be seeing it in order to enjoy yourself; the marketing for that film is as fraudulent as anything this side of The Neverending Story (tm Lionel Hutz). You see the trailers, you see Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman and you think "Romantic comedy that's actually funny! I'm sold!" And what you get is a depressing treatise on what it's like to inhabit Splitsville with your ex, with an ambiguous ending that wins points for its non-Hollywood-ness but won't win over audiences.

But I digress. I've had a lot of sympathy for Aniston ever since reading that Vanity Fair piece last fall. Yes, she's rich and attractive and gets to make movies and make out with Clive Owen, and no, she's not by any means a sad figure in the grand scheme of things. But going through a divorce is never fun, being cheated on sucks rocks, and doing both in public just adds mountains of insult to injury. And if that article is to be believed, Pitt has acted with an almost inhuman level of insensitivity throughout this whole thing. I may have, on occasion, hollered "Home-wrecking slut" at the TV when Jolie's appeared on it, but I don't really blame her. Aside from lying to VF that she never sleeps with married men, she's not really the guilty party here - she met a man she liked and was attracted to, and hooked up with him, and good for her.

But the biggest reason I'm in the Aniston/Vaughn camp is that Pitt and Jolie are two of the most overhyped stars in the Hollywood firmament, and I'm talking before they got together. Brad Pitt is hot, yes. But he's a lousy actor. No, really. He's not Keanu, he's not Tom Cruise, but he's not good, either. Watching him try to do anything more challenging other than Rusty from the Ocean's movies is painful. I had a friend in university who used to do a killer imitation of Pitt crying; obviously I can't replicate it here, but watch the climax of Se7en and you'll see it - the man cannot act without getting caught at it. He sucks. I give him credit for making good choices and wanting to work with interesting directors, but really. Put him up against Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Jeff Bridges or Ed Norton or Benicio Del Toro - guys who inhabit the characters they create - and his inferiority is so glaring it'll blind you.

As for Jolie, I just looked at her IMDB entry and realize that Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the only film of hers that I've seen all the way through. I've seen parts of Girl, Interrupted and a few scenes from one of the Lara Croft movies and a couple of seconds of Gone in Sixty Seconds, but that's it. So I guess I can't really judge her on the basis of that one performance alone (although, if I could - ugh, she wasn't much better than he was). But she's been a "star" for longer than her resumé would indicate; in part because of her freaky-ass marriage to Billy Bob Thornton, but largely because a lot of straight men (and no doubt some gay women) want to fuck her.

And I don't get it. I mean, yes, okay, I get it. The legs, the ass, the blow-job-ready lips. Fine. But the woman is not beautiful, not in the way that Natalie Portman or Ingrid Bergman or Catherine Zeta-Jones is. She's striking, yes. You notice her. She has presence. But she's weird-looking, I think - her forehead is huge and her shoulders are bony and her nose turns up in that way that her father's did - she looks a hell of a lot like her father did when he was young, in fact. It's an odd face on anyone, but more so on a young woman.

As for Vince Vaughn, he's probably going to turn out to be one of those Nicolas Cage types for me, someone who I'll always think kindly of because of a particular role. No matter how bizarre and awful Nic Cage is now, I still love him because of Moonstruck, and no matter how many adolescent frat boy fantasies Vaughn romps through - all the while looking like he's better than the material, which is maddening - I will love him because of Swingers, a brilliant little flick that he was fantastic and dead sexy in. I really hope he frees himself from the clutches of the Wilson/Ferrell/Stiller crowd and goes back to working on quality stuff; he co-wrote and -produced The Break Up, which may be an indication that he's ready to move on.

Aniston, meanwhile, does not appear to be a great actress; she's got sitcom-honed timing, for sure, but I've yet to see anything that indicates she's got anything else. She's good in The Break Up, it not being terribly surprising that she can play heartbreak, and as I said in my reivew, she does her best with a character who's supposedly smart and classy and talented and then approaches her relationship problems with all the sophistication of a Friends subplot. And God knows Aniston's been overhyped, but that has more to do with her marriage than with her. None of the other Friends appear in the tabloids with that kind of brutal regularity, and had she married a known schmuck, like Courtney Cox did, or an unknown average Joe, like Lisa Kudrow did, she'd be going through this divorce practically in private right now, with her millions of dollars as consolation, instead of trying desperately to build a film career that no one thinks she's ready for. Of course, if she'd married a guy like that, he wouldn't have left her for Angelina Jolie. Sounds like a better idea all the time, doesn't it?

In other words, if it hadn't been for her marriage to Pitt, Vaughn would now be playing David Arquette to Aniston's Courtney Cox and we wouldn't be sick of the sight of her and wishing she'd just take a year off. So for those reasons, I wish her and Vaughn well, hope they take a nice long vacation and figure out what's next for them. As for Pitt and Jolie, I hope they stay in Namibia and get the hell off my newsstands.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home