TALENTED ACTRESS, TERRIBLE ROLES: AN OPEN LETTER TO TONI COLLETTE
I love bad movies. Even if they suck from scene 1, I’m in for the ride. Case in point – I’m watching Basic Instinct 2 right now. On purpose. Even my TiVO seemed to twitch and cast a disparaging digital eye in my direction when I chose to record it.
That being said, I’ve subjected myself to a few stinkers this week. Unfortunately, both co-starred Toni Collette, one of my favorite actresses.
Below are brief reviews of the two movies I could barely sit through, followed by an open letter to the very talented Ms. Collette.
THE DEAD GIRL
Look at this cast: Josh Brolin, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette, Bruce Davison, James Franco, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt, Piper Laurie, Brittany Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi, Mary Steenburgen, Kerry Washington. And yet…the film itself is so disappointing. I can see why each of these actors signed on; the concept was interesting and dark, but the execution was slow and bland.
THE NIGHT LISTENER
I find it hard to believe that the same man who wrote Tales of the City also penned the novel and adapted the screenplay for this clunker (Armistead Maupin). Let’s be honest, Robin Williams hasn’t been good (or appeared in) a good movie since Good Will Hunting. And that was ten years ago. Anyway, this film is a very slow and poor cousin to most psychological thrillers, and fails miserably in almost all categories (acting, pacing, dialogue, cinematography).
Dear Toni Collette,
I am a big fan. You have amazing range, capable of transforming before our eyes from one film to the next. You’ve made great choices. Until recently.
Aside from a few questionable career moves (Shaft & Changing Lanes), you seem to choose your roles quite wisely. You were brilliant in Muriel’s Wedding, and The Sixth Sense really put you on everyone’s radar (that Best Supporting Actress nod was well-deserved). Your brief appearance in The Hours was very impactful and memorable, About a Boy was great, and Connie and Carla was a pretty decent little comedy. You even made In Her Shoes tolerable, outshining the overrated Cameron Diaz by a mile. And you could do no wrong in Little Miss Sunshine.
So I have to ask…what were you thinking when you signed on to The Dead Girl and The Night Listener? Seriously, both were pretty unwatchable. I’m sure that on paper, both films seemed appealing, with good casts and intriguing scripts. But did you really feel, at any point during filming, that either of these scripts would translate well on the big screen and/or be commercially appealing?
Here’s the good news – I will continue to see every movie you’re in. I know there is an Academy Award in your future. And you’re not alone in the Great Actresses Who’ve Made Crappy Movies category; 14-time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep made She-Devil, for crying out loud.