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Jen Again

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Mark Kermode | 11:10 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

The path from small screen to big screen is littered with disasters (and let's not even mention Jennifer Aniston's Friends co-alumni), but you, the staunch and loyal movie going Kermode Uncut bloggers, have identified many without whom our movie viewing lives would be infinitely the poorer...

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  • Comment number 1.

    I didn't read this blog before but some notable omissions of people who were successful in film after they were successful in TV are:

    Robin Williams
    Bob Hoskins
    Robert Vaughan
    Warren Beatty
    Dudley Moore
    Patrick McGoohan
    Kate Winslet
    Steve Coogan
    John Cleese, Terry Gilliam et al
    John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy, John Candy, Chevy Chase et al
    Jim Carrey
    Minnie Driver
    Roger Moore
    um, Ricky Gervais (come on people, how long has it been?)
    Stephen Fry
    Hugh Laurie
    Eddie Izzard (anybody in New York can see Eddie giving a talk at the Apple Soho store tomorrow (Saturday 17th) 4pm
    Woody Allen and Steve Martin were writers for TV, although Steve was also a TV performer e.g. Saturday Night Live (as above)

    But anybody responding that didn't mention Clint Eastwood (and that includes Dr.
    K) has to stay after class.

  • Comment number 2.

    John Goodman did amazingly well to advance from that over-weight, catastrophic American sitcom: Roseanne!

    Jen is a sweetheart but she has displayed no range at all! I echo the point I made the first time round in that, she needs to do something drastic like:

    Charlize Theron in Monster

    Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry or

    Halle Berry in Monster's Ball

    She needs to shake up her current star persona (Rachel from Friends) so we can that there is more to her!

  • Comment number 3.

    Mark, I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments regarding Jennifer but I worry that this has nothing to do with her acting ability per se. Personally, I think it’s simply down to phizog, or possibly even those green eyes (that they always make a feature). I find it impossible to empathise with, or even find plausible, any character that dotes on Aniston (who always plays a love interest) simply because my mother had brown eyes. Bullock on the other hand can play exactly the same insipid two-dimensional airhead character without issue. The reason you don’t have the same response to Aniston on TV is possibly because you don’t engage with, care about, it in the same way. The question I ask is if Aniston wore dark brown contact lens (but why would she when she has such lovely green eyes - vomit) would you still have the same problem?

  • Comment number 4.

    Dr K. you need to play movie-star word-association.

    Personally I think Aniston attractive, thought her as competent as her co-stars in Friends (a compliment, I warmed to the series), but mention the word Aniston and ‘bland’ just springs to my mind. (Matt le Blanc brings ‘smug’ and so on.)

    That blandness probably is why she gets so many parts; a few may really like her, for most people it’s a question of: “hey, its her off Friends; wow, they let her do movies too! Didn’t she go out with Brad Pitt?”

    Aniston doesn’t really offend (you’d have to be a pretty sick puppy to really, really hate her), she lacks the Michael Bay factor. Bland.

  • Comment number 5.

    I HATE Jennifer Aniston much more than Michael Bay... Armageddon is pretty fun in a stupid way but saying that Office Space is great...

  • Comment number 6.

    Is the content not working for anybody else?

  • Comment number 7.

    I really do think it's her look . She still looks like Rachael from friends .
    Think of it like this , Shaun Connery after leaving Bond only ever appeared in crap films until he got old , grey + his hair fell out - hey presto "a different look" and suddenly he's in a pretty varied range of good('ish) films . Roger Moore on the other hand still looks much the same now as he did in Bond and has been in nothing of note since then .
    Conclusion :- Jen needs a radical change of appearance + then maybe she'll be offered parts that don't require her to be "Rachael from friends" .

  • Comment number 8.

    Slightly off-topic (feel free to move it or what have you), but firstly, welcome back! I mean - swine flu??? Not having had it myself (it seems to be quite a lot harder to get than was initially predicted), far be it from me to belittle your predicament. I daresay it wasn't much fun. All the same, though - a disease which is apparently one-third as fatal as the usual kind of flu that nobody gives a wad of phlegm about? Suppose it had actually carried you, of all people, off? As opposed to, say, 28-Days-Later Virus. Or indeed the Satan Bug (dull film - great title though). It's not really a fittingly occupational disease at all, is it? Now, if it had been something that turned you into some kind of space of space lobster (irrespective of whether or not you could then fire last week's ray-gun) - or at least made your head explode...

    No, but seriously, folks... Has anybody thought of turning Terry Gilliam on to H. P. Lovecraft? Think about it! Johnny Depp as HPL, who knows the truth but unfortunately comes across as so many wheels short of a unicycle that nobody believes him. Sort of like "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas", only the central character doesn't need drugs. I'm right, am I not? The great unmade Terry Gilliam film not involving Don Quixote, and the great unmade Johnny Depp film not involving Pirates of the Caribbean (though given that bloke in the last one with the tentacles sticking out of his nose, if he was double-booked, they could probably do a fair number of the fantasy sequences for both films simultaneously without the producers being any the wiser).

    And if there was any doubt as to its box-office potential, why not cast Jennifer Aniston (hey, it's topical after al!) as the hopelessly confused Mrs. Lovecraft? Assuming that HPL's very limited female supporting cast were all based on her, we'd get to see JA as a bisexual Satanist zombie in an advanced state of decay; and later on she'd have to play a half-witted country bumpkin who gets raped by Yog-Sothoth, and subsequently gives birth to twins who make Rosemary's baby look like Squirrel Nutkin. I'd pay good money to see that - wouldn't you?

  • Comment number 9.

    "Assuming that HPL's very limited female supporting cast were all based on her, we'd get to see JA as a bisexual Satanist zombie in an advanced state of decay; and later on she'd have to play a half-witted country bumpkin who gets raped by Yog-Sothoth, and subsequently gives birth to twins who make Rosemary's baby look like Squirrel Nutkin. I'd pay good money to see that - wouldn't you?"

    Yay! That's what I call a pitch. Change the director to M. Bay and you might get rare unity of opinion on this blog. But would Jen change her hairstyle (and expression) and wear contacts, even for such challenging roles?

  • Comment number 10.

    i think we all know it would be annoying watching jennifer aniston NOT actually play a guitar when she's supposed to be.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think it's unfair to judge Aniston when she's really only stayed in her comfort zone as an actor. It seems to me that she tried to break away from those parts with the role in Derailed, but it clearly didn't lead to much critical success and she's retreated to what she knows best. Now, Derailed was hardly a brilliant film, or even that much of a departure for her, but at least the tone of the film was very far away from the vomit-inducing rubbish she's known for. If she took another brave pill and took a few more risks, maybe we'd all be surprised.

    Personally, I think she stinks and is doomed to sub-sitcom, two dimensional rom-com danglies.

    But I could be wrong.

  • Comment number 12.

    It's strange - she got very positive notices for "The Good Girl", where she did play somewhat against type, and then went back to basically playing Rachel. I'm sure that describes most of what she was offered, though...

  • Comment number 13.

    ian (5) 'Armageddon is pretty fun in a stupid way'.
    I'll take your word for it, I've never managed more than the first 10 minutes. Parts of Bad Boys I did quite like (well, actually just Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's performances, the action sequences weren't great); but BB2 was a horrendous, sadistic, clichéd mess.

    Bay just does movies by numbers; formula with big budgets and good enough performers that it passes as competent. But there's no mind there. Its like paying to have someone insult and throw slops over you whilst telling you how much fun your having. I can't imagine being excited at the thought of a new Bay movie; nor an Aniston one for that matter; but perhaps she's realised people like her forever as Rachel. Maybe when she's 50 she'll have to break the mould and do something different.

  • Comment number 14.

    could we let this topic die? she's such a pathetically easy target.

  • Comment number 15.

    I've never sat through an episode of friends without going into a coma. As far as I'm concerned Jennifer Aniston doesn't exist, never has, and never will.

  • Comment number 16.

    Mark, why don't you do a video blog about French films you actually really like? to prove you don't hate the French.

  • Comment number 17.

    I can't sleep tonight cause i wanna share something with you. It's about your complaint on actors playing instruments, I find that to be part of a bigger problem. Which is also why I am not a big fan of musicals,the problem is acting FOR the camera. That bothers me a lot,I want to see the camera "OBSERVING", looking as if it's merely an accident that it is placed in front of the actors. There are few films that do that as you know and they become Classics.

  • Comment number 18.

    Not working

  • Comment number 19.

    I know this is off-topic Dr. Kermode, but how old were you when you first saw The Exorcist?

  • Comment number 20.

    6 & 18. If the video isn't playing check and see if other such content plays on pages elsewhere on this site. If not you may need to download and install Flash Player.

  • Comment number 21.

    There's been a lot of talk about Jennifer Aniston but what of Aaron Eckhart? Apart from his decent turn in The Dark Knight, he's not demonstrated his talent recently. His excellent performances as the amoral but likeable big tobacco stooge in Thank You For Smoking and the misogynistic Chad from In The Company of Men stand somewhat incongruously against the inane films he's done recently with Catherine Zeta Jones and now Miss Aniston. Don't do it Aaron!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I have to say over the past few weeks you've certainly developed something of a potty mouth on the blog (I like it!)

  • Comment number 23.

    Jen Aniston is typecast.
    We hate the roles she is constantly re-assigned and I wont even go into what that is, since we all know it and dispise it enough that we have a good idea of it in our heads anyhow.

    I judged Brad Pitt harshly as an a-typical shoot'em up action stud. But then I discovered Snatch, and although he still fights and does the whole man thing, his role is halarious and earned him some credit in my opinion.

    I hated Bruce Willis for similar reasons (same role...over and over) until I saw him in Giliam's 12 monkeys,alongside Brad Pitt. Both actors went comepletly out of their elements, as Willis playeda sniviling, pathetic wrek and Brad played an insance demented lunitic.

  • Comment number 24.

    I often thought these matters were superficial but actually Dr K has made me realise that there is still a subconscious feeling that TV is still the inferior black sheep to the movies.

    Aniston is perfectly likeable but she does have no place in Hollywood and she really should return to her spiritual home, a lesson learnt by her fellow Friends co-stars. Cox was decent in the Scream trilogy but better in Dirt, Kudrow had potential with The Opposite of Sex but was out of her depth in Analyze This so did The Comeback, LeBlanc was woeful in Lost in Space so did Joey, Perry is just Chandler and Schwimmer who I hated on the sitcom did do some interesting work in Apt Pupil.

    Those that make it are the rare exception to the rule. Michael J Fox, outside of the Back to the Future trilogy was hardly huge and had more success going back with Spin City. Justine Bateman had the same problem as Aniston - I vaguely remember she was a rock star in something. Jason Bateman is brilliant in Arrested Development but I find him really bland in those Apatow films. Fred Savage probably needs to give up. I also thought Bee Movie was gimmick-y despite being a huge Seinfeld fan and I won't mention Garry Shandling playing an alien. And Frankie Muniz was awful in the Cody Banks films but still love his sitcom. I can't think of a good Ten Danson movie.

    The prejudice goes both ways. Movie stars give TV shows massive gravitas and if actors are smart and know their movie careers are on the slide, they would choose to be a big fish in a small pond. Glenn Close in Damages is brilliant. Martin Sheen is the proto-Obama. Loved Jason Lee in My Name is Earl. And Charlie Sheen is surely the smartest of the bunch. Two and a Half Men is a mediocre sitcom at best but is strangely enjoyable.

  • Comment number 25.

    Bruce Willis succeeded because he took a massive gamble with his career. The producers didn't want him for Die Hard because up till then he was known for Moonlighting and crappy romantic comedy Blind Date. If he had Aniston's agent, he would probably have made a few more bad romantic comedies that bombs and he would eventually do another tv series.

  • Comment number 26.

    Off subject more than ever, but I thought Nigel Floyd and Boyd Hilton were the best Mark replacements the five live show has ever had. Indeed, I believe it was the only non-Mayo/Kermode podcast that I've listened to all the way through.

  • Comment number 27.

    One of the greatest problems which the American film industry seems to have is a lack of interesting and varied roles for female actresses. Even though I truly despised Paul Haggis's Crash, Sandra Bullock's performance indicates she is a greater actress than the dross she is usually in which usually belittles her.

    I am sure Sandra Bullock if she had the opportunity to take a role as seen Crash again she would snap at it. Unfortunately, most lead roles for females in film seem to be of a less challenging nature, and are in the comedy free romantic comedies.

    I am in no way even beginning to defend Jen Anniston, but she is too easy a target. If she was an actor/actress who was wonderfully wasting their careers then it would be a different issue. Anne Hathaway, who is actually a actress of some competence should evoke much greater criticism as having proved some cinematic credibility in Brokeback Mountain and Rachel Getting Married, she went onto make Bride Wars. Which having had the misfortune to have seen is a much more repugnant film than I imagine Love Happens is. An assumption nonetheless, but a considered assumption!

    Due to the list of actors and actresses which have been named above, the assessment whether someone is greater to the televisual medium is unfounded. Many have taken the jump, Eric Bana being one. The televisual medium itself has progressed greatly in recent times, often providing as much artistic integrity as it's cinematic counterpart. The Wire being such an example, something which Jennifer Anniston would struggle to fit into as much as a film made by Werner Herzog (who has made a film with Nic Cage, so I am not quite sure anymore!). Ultimately, the medium of cinema or television doesn't matter too much. There are going to be things with great integrity and not in both, and things without it.

  • Comment number 28.

    actors going from tv-eric bana(oops just saw that above) i reckon michael k williams(omar from 'the wire') will make the jump

    sean connery post bond movies? 'the offence', 'the hill', 'the anderson tapes', 'the man who would be king' and he was an oscar winner for 'the untouchables'

  • Comment number 29.

    what about robin williams, from mork and mindy? the perfect case of an annoying face/tv character thats somehow been successfully pasted into movies without anybody caring??!

  • Comment number 30.

    I'd like to weigh in in support of Ms. Aniston. I've just seen Management. It's a kind of middling-to-good indie rom-com. The premise is very poor and the plotting is only mediocre, but the scenery is fine (Kingman is the kind of place you drive through on VERY long American road trips) and the acting is excellent. and she is wonderful in a difficult-to-believe role,as is Steve Zahn -- if only they hadn't started him off as a retard-stalker, the movie could have taken right off. Because the story doesn't offer much motivation, Aniston has to convince the viewer through her performance that inside a business-suited traveling saleswoman there can be a vulnerable, free-spirited, thoughtful person. To the extent it was possible, she did this. It worked for the same reason why Friends, or any of her good roles work: she's able to project decency, likeability, accessibility.

    What about other movies? I haven't seen all her movies, but Office Space was very good, the Good Girl was very good. How many good films do actors make? Most actors have plenty of stinkers, because the great majority of films are so badly written. The emphasis and money in the movie business go elsewhere. We obsess on the quality of Jennifer Aniston's movies because she's one of the highest-profile stars in Hollywood, forever on the grocery-store magazine covers. I bet she could have done, say, 'You Can Count On Me', and if she had, she'd have been considered for an Oscar. Movie roles of that quality just hardly ever come along though. Any great actress, including Laura Linney, will tell you that.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ junkiecosmonaunt: Connery didn't deserve his Oscar. The Untouchables is an overrated film and his death scene is the most overblown and ridiculous before Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (which he's in of course). And don't forget The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - one of the worst films of the decade.

    Robin Williams is great in The Fisher King.

  • Comment number 32.

    I sorta like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"...

  • Comment number 33.

    HOW?! It's one of the stupidest, silliest, most po-faced films ever released

  • Comment number 34.

    It's kind of interesting to see how the stars of "The Office" (both US and UK versions) are doing in movies. Steve Carell has had lots of starring roles, most succesfully in The Forty Year Old Virgin and Little Miss Sunshine, and is clearly leading the pack, but John Krasinski's been in a few movies, notably Sam Mendes's Away We Go. BJ Novak had a turn in Inglourious (ahem), Jenna Fischer's been in a couple of low budget features, and, by all accounts, the less said the better about Rainn Wilson's The Rocker.

    Back in the UK, there's Ricky Gervais, of course, and then Mackenzie Crook in Potato Men (and probably something OK as well), and Martin Freeman in Hitchhiker's, not really setting Hollwood alight.

  • Comment number 35.

    I saw "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and had absolutely no idea what was going on at any point in the film.

    And to be fair to Connery, even he thought it was a load of mince. Not exactly the greatest swansong...

    And Robin Williams is one of those actors who can give a really great performance when put outside his comfort zone - Insomnia, One Hour Photo, The Fisher King.

    Aniston would do well to learn from that. But I don't think she's got the minerals for it.

  • Comment number 36.

    There's also Jason Segiel who has starred in I Love You Man and Forgetteing Sarah Marshal whilst starring in a sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. If Zach Braff ever leaves Scrubs properly he'll have a decent career in movies as well.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hello Philm E Stein, I may be wrong but I don't see any American Actresses on your list. I am wondering if it is not in fact Jennifer Anniston per se but the type of acctress that is cast in Americal TV rather then British TV? Personal bias perhaps but I tend to find British TV Drama more cinematic than American ones.

  • Comment number 38.

    I began to wonder the other day, probably due to this blog, if Jennifer Anniston had ever been in a film that I would consider to be good. In the back of my head she had but I couldn't quite put my finger on which one it was. Suddenly it occured to me that Jen plays the mother in Brad Bird's film The Iron Giant which is actually one of my favourite films. Perhaps this goes someway to prove the theory that Jen's face is the problem. We see Jennifer Aniston in a film and all we see is Rachael from Friends. However when we just hear Jennifer Anniston in a film we actually hear the voice of the character she is actually playing. Not always perhaps but I would say so in the case of The iron Giant.

    Strangely Vin Diesel also gives his best performance in this film.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Vanfilm,

    Yes there were no American Actresses in my list so I will give you:

    Sally Field,
    Debra Winger
    Penny Marshall
    Goldie Hawn

    Not bad examples, if I say so myself :-)

    I didnt think about this much so I am sure there are others that are not such good examples like
    Mary Tyler Moore, Kirstie Alley, Jennifer Hudson etc.

    Before other people start naming other countries I will give you

    Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett (Australia)
    Marion Cotillard (France)
    Selma Hayek (Mexico)
    etc. etc.

  • Comment number 40.

    A few more notables:

    Marissa Tomei
    Jennifer Garner
    Helen Hunt
    Katie Holmes
    Ashley Judd
    Keri Russell
    Laura San Giacomo


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