March 24, 2013

"Is someone deliberately sabotaging the movie careers of beloved TV comedy actors?"

"Or is some inexorable force of Marxian historical overdetermination at work, compelling Steve Carell and Tina Fey to make the kinds of sub-mediocre, machine-produced formula pictures that would once have starred Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston (and may yet!), and so rendering irrelevant all the qualities that made them irresistible on television?"

54 comments:

betamax3000 said...

Are there 'beloved TV comedy actors' anymore? I must be out of the loop.

YoungHegelian said...

Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money?

Also, in Fey's case, she's has made it apparent through her characters that she wants to be a "pretty girl" (doesn't every woman?). But, she's not. She can be physically attractive enough, but that's not her persona.

BlogDog said...

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does, sir."

Erika said...

Went to the movies yesterday and saw a preview for a buddy comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Can't believe they are still making those silly movies. "They drove a dumptruck full of money up to my house! I'm not made of stone!"

Darleen said...

Maybe I missed something, but Tina Fey is a beloved comedy actor?

meh

Mark O said...

Once upon a time, I asked a friend, who was also a major movie star, just how is it possible some movies get made. He told me it is easy to understand how the movies get made, but difficult to understand why anyone would be in them.

Chip S. said...

I believe the common term for that "inexorable force" is "agents".

virgil xenophon said...

Beloved of lefties, Darleen--as well as all smug au courrant "hipsters"--but I repeat myself..

Larry J said...

I've always found Tina Fey completely resistable.

Bob_R said...

My family is a nonstandard consumer of video entertainment. I can count the times I've been in a movie theater in the past decade on one hand. (My wife and son go pretty regularly.) My family watches a lot of sports, so we can't break the cable connection - in fact we have an extended sports package. The only major network show I watch is Parks and Rec. I got started on P&R mostly because my daughter likes it and it's fun to have another common interest. (And Ron Swanson is my hero.)

edutcher said...

The last beloved actor, comedy or otherwise, was Clayton Moore.

madAsHell said...

Wow!

Three interstitial adds before I could read the first sentence. I hit the back button before I finished the same.

Howard said...

mad

Adblock.com

Roadkill said...

Tina Fey has always been irresistably irrelevant.

Kurt said...

Larry J. wrote: I've always found Tina Fey completely resistable.

I have to agree there. Aside from a few of her sketches on Saturday Night Live, I've mostly missed (or should I say I "haven't missed"?) her career. I never watched even one episode of "30 Rock," and I only sort-of saw "Mean Girls" because they showed it on a flight to Toronto, though I didn't spring for the headphones.

I should add, though, that the other morning I heard an interview with her on NPR and thought she seemed completely unappealing in how she came across. She was trying to sound witty and clever and sophisticated, but I wasn't buying the act at all.

FedkaTheConvict said...

in Fey's case, she's has made it apparent through her characters that she wants to be a "pretty girl" (doesn't every woman?

Not with that "telephone scar" that she always appears to be so self-conscious about.

Perhaps the movie did like SNL and only showed one side of her face.

SGT Ted said...

Even George Carlin got old and un-funny. His old stuff was great, his later stuff just bitter and full of bile.

Tina Feys Big Time was her Palin impression. Other than that, she is certainly no Gilda Radner.

SGT Ted said...

There is a certain schadenfrued in Feys peaking out with her Palin impression in service to the Democrat Presidential election.

Leland said...

Not beloved and easily resisted. Both have done a good job of alienating half of the public. The one Tina Fey movie I saw bored me. I'll give Steve Carell some credit, but meh.

virgil xenophon said...

@SSGT TED/

Yes, Carlin DID become bitter didn't he? Did you ever see that despicable YT vid/rant of him comparing Bush to Saadamand running down the armed services? And then I caught him once on Imus (when he was on MSNBC) stating categorically that he never got overtly political in his comedy. Right...

great Unknown said...

Television is free [at least on the margin], and many times people watch because they have nothing better to do. Thus "beloved comedians" means "better than C-Span; but just a little."

Movies require an investment: effort, money, travel. This is where market forces decide who and what is really beloved.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Hey, I loved "30 Rock," and am really going to miss it.

Nonapod said...

No demographic groups are ever insulted and abused, with the brief possible exception of straight white men (who can take it, frankly)

Yeah, straight white men aren't people anyway, they're acceptable targets with no souls (yeah, yeah... I know I'm whining and playing the victim... but yeesh).

Anyway, I think Tina Fey was quite funny on 30 Rock and SNL and other stuff. I disagree with her politics of course, but I'm used to politically disagreeing with about 90% of the people who I'm entertained by. As to why she'd do a bland inoffensive rom-com? Money perhaps? Or perhaps she's just getting tired of being "edgy" or whatever and would rather just make something light hearted.

BaltoHvar said...

I do agree that Fey's comedy well is poisoned by her Palin schtick. But furthermore, any given movie, comedy or drama, has to have quality production. Writing, Direction and acting all have to come together.

And name ANY SNL Alum (or TV actor) that has gone on to films and produced consistently quality or funny movies. Comedic talent on TV doesn't translate to the big screen and the expanded time-fill requirements.

Ironically it seems actors are better remembered for characters outside their TV comic foundations, and vice-versa. Hanks or all the cameos in "Airplane." And perhaps Leslie Neilson as Sgt. Drummond.

Making movies using characters you have played seems to be road to mediocraty.

AprilApple said...

I don't keep up with any of the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston/Owen Wilson/Tina Fe Steve carel..genre.

I happened to see the movie "Crazy stupid love" on an airplane.
Could have titled the movie "Crazy Stupid" and ended it right there. The writing!
It was dreadful. Vapid story telling about vapid people and their vapid lives. Just a reflection of our culture, I suppose.

These people make millions even if the movie is terrible. The good news is that I don't want to support the industry, the actor (most are leftwing), or the idiots who run hollywood, and so missing their bad movies is no big deal.
Kind of a win win.

AprilApple said...

I tried to watch an episode of 30 rock. Coundn't get through it.

ken in sc said...

Carlin was an avionics technician in the Air Force. I think he was kicked out. Or at least not allowed to re-enlist. I don't know why. He was in SAC and SAC was always very strict. That is maybe why he does not like the military.


MathMom said...

I think Palin is prettier than Fey, and looks smarter. Side by side comparison here, and here.

I wouldn't cross the street to see Fey, but I'd go to great effort to see Palin.

AJ Lynch said...

30 Rock is hilarious.

MadisonMan said...

but I'd go to great effort to see Palin.

That someone would say that about any politician in this country is a horrible thing.

Politicians deserve one thing: Scorn.

ricpic said...

Carel's movies have been pretty successful at the box office.

There must be some guys out there who would enjoy the prospect of fighting Tina Fey for who's on top, but not many.

Alex said...

Beloved? By whom?

Alex said...

Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy translated their SNL gigs to comedy films just fine. But that was a generation ago. Mike Myers was the 90s example.

creeley23 said...

I think it's part of the larger decline of American movies, which are almost all pretty poor these days.

I barely bother with the "Recent Releases" in my NetFlix subscription, preferring instead to mine older films and some recent TV series.

Joe said...

People often mistake an actor's stellar performance in one role for broad talent. Most actors are good for one type of role, a few can pull off two, very few are good for more than that.

Unfortunately, actors too often don't recognize their own limitations; they believe their fans and agents. Their ego gets the best of them.

Truth is, this is true for many human endeavors. Knowing where your talents lie is one of the most complicated things in life. When you're surrounded by sycophants, it's even harder.

Biff said...

I've chuckled here and there at a Tina Fey skit, but she is "beloved" in the same way that "30 Rock" was a "hit:" a small slice of America feels compelled to join the fan club, for cultural reasons as much as for anything else, but that doesn't translate into the kind of high ratings or large audiences that would have counted as "important" a generation ago.

GrandpaMark said...

Speaking of movies, I saw Lincoln at the discount theater.

It was all about political manipulation to get a bill passed.

Not as good as "Boss", or "House of Cards"



Joe said...

"And name ANY SNL Alum (or TV actor) that has gone on to films and produced consistently quality or funny movies."

Name any actor that has produced consistent quality. I'm a huge fan of Cary Grant, but he made some real stinkers. All artists, no matter how great, have produced crap, sometimes quite a lot of it. In time, the bad stuff sinks into oblivion.

Incidentally, Tom Hanks started as a TV star and has done better than most. James Garner and Clint Eastwood have also done well. Robin Williams and Steve Martin have done okay. Eddie Murphy is hit or miss, but his hits were very good. Then there's that Johnny Depp guy....

Left Bank of the Charles said...

30 Rock was supposed to be about Tina Fey but ended up being about Alec Baldwin. That would never have happened to Mary Tyler Moore or Lucille Ball.

Joe Schmoe said...

I think people get caught up in thinking contemporary movies suck compared to the golden age of theater that just happened to coincide with their young adulthood.

Look, movies mostly suck from any era. The few good ones endure. Same as now. I love a good comedy movie, and I generally sit through 20-30 bad ones before hitting a gold nugget. Most of Carell's movies suck, although I rank his Michael Scott character on the Office right up there with George Costanza, Homer Simpson, and Sam Malone.

Paco Wové said...

"inexorable force of Marxian historical overdetermination"

"I paid over 100K for this humanities degree, and by God I'm going to rub it in your face!"

AlanKH said...

I've never watched a Vince Vaughn / Jennifer Aniston flick, seen Tina Fey in anything other than the Hillary/Palin SNL skit, so I have no theories to offer.

Pogo said...

Most movies are filler, forgotten within weeks of their release.

Celluloid potato chips. Not meant for anything other than transient consumption.

A few films are great and worth watching over and over again.

I've been watching parts of Malick's Tree of Life over and over. It's pure poetry. My wife was bored by it.

But Fey's attempts are the romance novels of movies. No one really cares.

CWJ said...

FWIW, some people can move from one medium to another and some can't. Live in person is not TV is not the movies. Simple as that. No conspiracy necessary.

I just Mathew Broderick on Broadway. Just as charming live on stage as he was as Ferris Bueller on the big screen. But I have no trouble imagining him bombing on TV.

Strelnikov said...

It might pay to remember that roughly half the population, and possibly more, despise Fey. Can't imagine a large portion feeling strongly against Anniston. Or Vaughn, for that matter. You would have to agree with Fey's politics to consider her "beloved", which everyone at Slate undoubtedly does.

Pogo said...

Since about half of people dislike Fey, she's only hemi-beloved.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Hardly a conspiracy.

Go back to 1960 and look at actors and actresses who made the transition from TV to movies or vice versa. Not just comedy but in every genre.

There just are not very many.

I don't know the reason but most people who do TV well do not do movies well. Most people who do movie well suck on TV.

John Henry

Pogo said...

Though half a love is better than none.

Tim said...

A bigger problem is that Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston are likeable. They make formulaic romantic comedys fun for a lot of people. Steve Carroll and Tina Fey? Not so much.

William said...

I don't like Fey's politics and the 30 Rock show usually advanced Democrat talking points, but, for all that, I like Tina Fey and thought her show was funny. She's nowhere near as alienating as, say, Rosie O'Donnell or Roseanne.....I think her show would have rated higher if she was perceived as more apolitical. If Mary Tyler Moore had gone on a peace mission to Vietnam, her ratings would have suffered.....Stars are to some extent a consumer product, and it wouldn't hurt them to maximize their appeal. I suppose you can make a living by appealing strictly to young liberals, but the big bucks and lasting fame go to those who fly above the fray. Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore: does anyone know their stand on abortion? Maybe they had the right strategy.

Balfegor said...

There's nothing wrong with formula -- people have been entertained by Punch and Judy for centuries. And the stock stereotype characters of commedia dell'arte. It's all the execution.

One thing that surprises me is that there aren't more low-budget well-executed romantic comedies out there. Because I can't imagine there's a huge budget required for set dressing and costumes. You ought to be able to do a decent romcom on a student film budget. Didn't Victorian and Edwardian playwrights and early Hollywood screenwriters churn out reams of this stuff year after year after year?

I don't watch American romantic comedies (I rarely find the characters sympathetic or relatable), but it always seems like they're using famous actors who must be kind of expensive and relying on them to draw the audience. You'd think there would be a large universe of Hollywood people trying to break into the top ranks (of actors, directors, screenwriters, editors, etc.) by honing their skills in budget films that are nevertheless polished enough to be distributed.

Or maybe there are such films and I just never hear of them? I've heard those Harlequin Romances are the biggest profit centers in the publishing industry, but I couldn't name a single romance author off the top of my head.

Larry J said...

Left Bank of the Charles said...
30 Rock was supposed to be about Tina Fey but ended up being about Alec Baldwin.


I wouldn't cross the street to piss on either one of them if they were on fire, much less watch any show with either one of them in the cast.

Sam L. said...

I'm guessing they are just stupid.