Monday, 12 July 2010

Failure to Launch, Season One: Episode 2

Sooner or later I’ll end up featuring an actor that we’ll end up arguing over – chances are, this is not that episode. A few weeks ago Heather and I entered a discussion in the commenting section of her blog on Jack Black. Apparently we both loathed the man. Jack Black’s appeal escapes me. It boggles my mind even more that he’s considered a celebrated comedian, or at the very least a creditable box-office draw. But am I overzealous in my disdain of him?
Prosecution, Exhibit A: Shallow Hal
Later in the week I’ll turn my attention to this film a little more, but until then I will intimate that it – along with Jack Black – does nothing but exasperate me. It remains as one of the un-funniest comedies and the fact that it garners any positive reviews only confuses more. The eponymous Hal is a shallow man who gets a “spell” placed on him so that he only sees the inside of people. Thus the fat, ugly, but sweet girl is seen as thin and gorgeous. I won’t go into the tirade on the actual film (later), but Black does nothing to improve it. It drags and his vexing lack of charisma does little to improve the situation.
Prosecution, Exhibit B: Nacho Libre
Another candidate for worse film of the decade…for me at least. It is neither “action” nor “comedy” yet it’s sometimes given the moniker of action-comedy. What an error. Even though Shallow Hal attempts (fleetingly) to take the spotlight off Black, Nacho Libre lets him do all – which only proves, once again, how unsatisfying he is a leading man and as an “actor”. It’s the sort of experience that makes you embarrassed for those involved and leaves a slight taste of vomit in your mouth.
Prosecution, Exhibit C: The Holiday
I liked The Holiday. Sure it’s not nearly as good as Meyer’s best film, but it’s a serviceable romantic comedy. I realised how little Jack Black was doing for me when, as the film neared its end, I found myself hoping that Kate Winslet would end up with the septuagenarian instead of him. Sure, he attempts to tone down his infuriating antics, but the best he manages to do is play a bland nonentity. Not to sound harsh, he’s not as horrible here as the two before – but the reason I single it out is because Black's apparent inability to play a serious romantic lead really spoiled the film at times for me, no matter how luminous Winslet is.
Defence, Exhibit A: School of Rock
I remember this most for Joan Cusack offering another brilliant take on an old character part. The thing is, the film is something of a blast and Black is good here. I don’t know if it’s because the script is tighter, I don’t know if it’s because he’s in the habitat where he should remain (with people who seem to have the mental capacity as he; no offense to children) but it works. It all works very well so that when he does (unfortunately) shift into his slapstick antics I’m being distracted by all the other good stuff around.

Defence, Exhibit B: Margot at the Wedding
This film is oft forgotten and when remembered it is not with fondness. It’s not an easy film, by any stretch, though I do think Nicole’s quite brilliant in it playing severely against type. Yet, it’s not Nicole who’s the revelation (I already know she’s a star) it’s black pacing himself, being subtle (as much as he can) and doing one hell of a job to make me think I could have been wrong about him. Was I?
You decide. Guilty? Innocent? Am I being harsh or has Black’s career failed to impress you? Make your arguments. 


Ryan T. said...

See I think your biggest mistake was starting this series with Matthew McConaughey. Compared to him, everyone comes out roses, even Jack Black.

With that said, I completely understand the questionable appeal of Jack Black. For me, he's good in small doses and one definitely has to pick and choose his projects. I knew I would find nothing redeeming in Shallow Hal or Nacho Libre so I skipped those. I found him okay in The Holiday and quite good in Margot at the Wedding.

But has he ever impressed me? No. Has he ever made me angry and/or regret I'm watching his movie? Not really. So you may be just a bit harsh, but understandably so. AT LEAST HE IS NOT Matthew McConaughey.

Runs Like A Gay said...

I thought he was good in his two minute role in Dead Man Walking (as Penn's brother), he didn't spoil King Kong and his zany persona was spot on in Be Kind Rewind.

On the other hand he was in Envy.

Overall I'd say he isn't guilty but his agent definitely is.

Luke said...

I was going to bring up the exact same role as Runs Like a Gay. Dead Man Walking all the way. Mostly, I think he tends to be pretty grating across the board, but I was duly impressed with School of Rock. He sort of honed the crazy a little bit and made a congenial character.

Red said...

I'm with you and Heather when it comes to absolutely loathing Black. He absolutely ruins films for me, and was the only part of King Kong that I didn't like. He overdoes everything, and not in a Jim Carey-appealing way.

Castor said...

I can't stand Jack Black. The only movie of his that is remotely watchable is School of Rock. Tropic Thunder was good but without him, it would have been better. He is so obnoxious and the fact that his act is so incredibly repetitive makes it only worse.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

ryan t point duly noted. but i'm sure i'll find someone worse than matthew m. :)

runs like a gay dead man walking came to me moments after i posted it, but perhaps he's good in minuscule doses.

luke yes, school of rock was great.

red he ALMOST spoiled king kong for me, but i was just loving that too much.

castor bingo. obnoxiousness.

DEZMOND said...

I have an identical opinion about THE HOLIDAY - It would have been an average cute little movie for special romantic occasion if it weren't for horrible Jack Black. I don't think Kate has ever had such a bad bad bad partner :(((( I was also hoping and cheering that she would end up with someone else.

I'm not sure I will survive seeing Emily Blunt in his arms in GULLIVER :(

Heather said...

I'll admit I never have been fond of Jack Black, and if I see his name on a billing now it's a complete turnoff to see whatever the movie may be. The sad thing is I never developed this massive dislike until he started playing lead roles or large parts. He can be a source of silly relief if he comes in small doses, but in general is obnoxious and as far as I'm concerned a reason to not see a movie. At least McConaughey has good looks going for him, Jack Black even lacks sincerity.

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