Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Failure to Launch, Season One: Episode 6

Jennifer Lopez – the actress is such an anomaly to me. Most would probably find this weird, since I’d vouchsafe that most would say her acting “talents” are abysmal. For the first season of Failure to Launch I was focusing on actors that I felt had to launch – but I’m branching. It’d be wrong to call Jennifer a fine actor, but I’m not sure I’d say she’s failed to launch either, which makes her idea subject for you to decide on.
          
Prosecution, Exhibit A: Monster-In-Law (2005)
This remains as a fine example in confusing casting. Having 36 year old Jennifer parade around as a vaguely naïve intrepid wandering young lady is ridiculous – what’s more it doesn’t help that she has absolutely no chemistry with Michael Vartan. What’s more seeing Wanda Sykes and Jane Fonda try so hard to emit occasional laughter makes her performance looks even more mediocre.


Prosecution, Exhibit B: Maid in Manhattan (2002)
This is an entry from the Jennifer Lopez School of Overacting, although – oddly – even masters of reticence like Natasha Richardson seem guilty of it in this one. It’s odd-casting once again, or at the very least odd acting. Lopez shows emotions as the weirdest places turning an already tired storyline into something even more insidiously melodramatic. Horrific at times.

Prosecution, Exhibit C: The Wedding Planner (2001)
This remains as I film I loathe to no end, although my biggest issue is the vile Matthew McConaughey. There are times you almost catch her trying, and there are moments where opposite Justin Chambers she works surprisingly, surprisingly considering how awful she is in the film’s main arc. Often shrill, usually dull and almost never ostensibly worthy of the leading role.
     
Closing Statements: Oddly, though J-Lo has her share of stinkers, I realise that – judging from the three exhibits – she’s never the worse performer in her films...
         
Defence, Exhibit A: The Cell (2000)
True, The Cell succeeds at best for Vincent D’Onfornio and it’s overreaching to call her performance a revelation here. Still, Jennifer impresses. It’s not that she’s that brilliantly cast, and she is rough around the edges on occasion....but she’s so consistently on point – even when she seems to be trying too hard. It sort of works in context, truth be told...
   
Defence, Exhibit B: Selena (1997)
Selena, perhaps, will persist as my favourite performance of Lopez – indefinitely. It’s too predictable a notion to demand that “good” acting show some high level of difficulty or excess skill. The role here doesn’t demand either, but Lopez is perfectly cast and turns in a performance that’s occasionally comedic, occasional dramatic and always honest.
             
Defence, Exhibit C: Shall We Dance (2004)
It’s sort of an atypical performance for hers. The film is far from flawless, but a worse film might have made her into an illicit object of affection. Having her play the straight – professional – woman with a tentative secret is interesting. What’s more interesting is that playing the role from the sidelines makes her seem like a much more interesting actor than usual.
      
Closing Statements: And yet, there are reasons to explain her relative “goodness”. She thrives in The Cell under heavy makeup and effects, and in Selena she’s playing such a sweetheart it’s difficult to loathe that winsoe character and she doesn’t have to hold the film in Shall We Dance, which perhaps explains her relative goodness.
         
So, you decide? Be the jury – Jennifer Lopez...guilty or innocent? Has she failed to launch?
     
Previously Tried
Bradley Cooper, Guilty (2), Undecided (1), Innocent (1) 

8 comments:

MovieNut14 said...

Looks like the defense was missing out on a major piece of evidence: Out of Sight. Goodbye chances of winning this case.

Candice Frederick said...

dude she's terrible in every movie. but i'd argue Selena was her best movie, but because of the movie and the story (not because of her). the whole cast was good....sooo...yeah

Robert said...

Strangely I don't think I've ever seen any J-lo film. In fact, I'm kind of mystified by her ubiquitous fame because, honestly, I can't even think of a popular song by her. I'm really amazed at how well J-lo has evaded my media radar. Haha!

Jose said...

I second the Out of Sight love.
Also, she makes "sense" in her videos. Have you seen how many characters she plays in "Get Right"? I'm not sure if it's more Benny Hill or David Lynch though.

Ryan T. said...

Not a good actress, but for some reason I have soft spot for her. Didn't see Shall We Dance, but I saw all of the other films you mentioned and you're pretty spot-on for all of them. Though oddly enough I may have liked Maid in Manhattan more than you, but only a little more. She was good in Out of Sight though. You should check it out to see what you think if you haven't.

Simon said...

What of that one she did with George Clooney, Name-Escapes-Me-Something-Elmore-Leonard-Y?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

everyone i DID see out of sight. why is it not on the list...? i have no idea (grins). i don't LOVE the movie, but it's a good one. count it as the eleventh hour piece of evidence for the defense. (so, am i absolved anna)

robert how on earth did you manage to avoid all her movies?

candice selena is SUCH a nice movie. lightweight, but completely enjoyable. i used to cry my eyes out as a child (SO embarrassing).

jose what an interesting point. i really think with a good role she could so something good. (probably benny hill in "get right, though, ha ha)

ryan shall we dance is not particularly good, but it's fair and susan sarandon is in it.

simon hmm....what ever could you be talking about?

Simon said...

You know. The one where they have sex in a bathtub or something, and she's an FBI agent, and he's some famous thief character...ah...