The Free Pass Actor

Last week if you told me that Cowboys and Aliens and The Smurfs would be tied for the weekend top gross ($36,200,000) and that Crazy, Sexy, Love would come in 5th behind – Aliens, Smurfs, Captain America, and Harry Potter I would have been awfully skeptical and probably would have argued it. I guess since I’m not a parent I forgot that little kids like little blue things in CGI.

I basically had no faith in The Smurfs at all. I heard that it’s really bad… Rotten Tomatoes reviewed it at 20%, for a while it was 0%, which is unheard of.

I actually saw Crazy, Sexy, Love, this weekend and liked it. I didn’t love it but I liked it, I should note that I’m a sucker for romcom’s but the movie was solid – the acting, writing, directing, all of the above, but maybe a little long - on a side note I think that Ryan Gosling is going to win an Academy Award in his acting career.

Anyway, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t check out Cowboys and Aliens this weekend. It’s got all the fixins that I like – Han Solo, James Bond, Spielberg, Favreau, Cowboys, Aliens… I mean why didn’t I see this movie? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I planned to see it on Sunday and drank too much on Saturday – but that’s a different story all in itself.

When I read that Aliens was on par with Smurfs I sat back and thought about this for a minute because quite honestly I think that the Aliens crowd should be bigger. The movie seems like an adventure and when you have blockbuster caliber attached to adventure you have a blockbuster. Did the Smurfy CGI kid thing really manage to bump the adventure offered from Aliens? I guess so, but really? I mean, when I think of Adventure I think of a few things:

1) Indiana Jones.

2) Steven Spielberg movies (producer of the film).

3) Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford movies.

I’m lingering on this whole thing, but I guess it just goes to show that the top dogs have lost some steam. If this were a different time any Harrison Ford / Spielberg movie would still have lines outside the doors. Right? But on the other hand they did make Indiana Jones part 4 which may have been one of the more forgettable movies in my movie going life. Which got me thinking…

It got me thinking about actors who no matter what they do will have a Free Pass by the movie going public. When I say free pass I mean that we forget they were even in a shitty movie, all we remember is that they killed it at one time or another. What got me thinking about this – Harrison Ford, of course. He’s the ultimate Free Pass actor, as far as I’m concerned Harrison Ford could make a bomb with Josh Harnett or Brendan Frasier and we would turn the other cheek… oh wait…

Which brings me to my list of actors who have a “Free Pass” they may have done shit… but we will forever forgive them.

1 - Harrison Ford: See above. But seriously, lets take a second think about how great this guy is and was. When I heard that Harrison Ford improvised the famous line in Empire Strikes Back when Leia says “I love you” and he says “I know” he pretty much sealed the deal for the biggest badass around.

He’s been in movies that have generated over 3 billion dollars for Hollywood and he’s one of the most iconic actors working. He can do garbage and act as disgruntled as he wants and I’ll always love this guy. For the record – I personally think he’s keeping his lame earring just to throw it back in our faces, which I love.

2) Bill Murray: “Come in Ray” yes, he’s Peter Venkman, not to mention he had Meatballs, Caddyshack, and one of the most underrated Bill Murray roles of all time – Ernie McCrackin in Kingpin. I could sit here and ramble about Groundhogs Day or all of the amazing Wes Anderson movies he’s been in but I’m going to focus on his actually life for a second.

Not sure if you’re aware but there is currently a Bill Murray legend building as you read this. Seemingly there are new urban legend stories popping up yearly, and it all started with (as far as I’m concerned) the story about him tackling some kid in the park.

As the story goes - a kid was walking and suddenly was tackled from behind, when the kid got up he looked at his attacker and it was none other than Bill Murray, Murray looked at him and said “Nobody will ever believe you” and ran away from him. And so it began…

Murray seemingly has these random stories popping up all around the country - from him driving drunk in golf carts, to him fighting at Chicago Bears games. Murray is everywhere. Oh, and one other side note about him – he doesn’t have an agent, which makes it very difficult to communicate with this guy. Society loves Bill Murray.

3) Meryl Streep: Come on. She’s the woman with more accents than there are countries. I can’t remember her last bad movie but if she ever does one we probably will forget.

4) Robert De Niro: Ahem… Rocky and Bullwinkle and Righteous Kill. BUT this guy was Vito Corleone for god sake aka The Godfather. Not to mention, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Casino, Ragining Bull, Deer Hunter, and a bunch of comedy. De Niro has the ultimate pass and one may argue he’s in Ford territory.

5) Al Pacino: If a man has ever talked to much when accepting an award his name is Al Pacino but he’s still in the Free Pass club. He’s kind of in the De Niro category due to his earlier career but something about Pacino is different. He takes on more roles than De Niro, or so it seems.

What’s great about Pacino is that he’s entered the world of TV (most recently as Kevorkian for HBO) and also he was in Insomnia directed by Chris Nolan (just had to drop that in).

Although Pacino doesn’t have the De Niro comedy chops he’s a Corleone…

6) Johnny Depp: Hello Jack Sparrow. I like Depp, a lot of people like Depp, and Depp hasn’t done much bad over time (I haven’t seen The Tourist). Here’s the thing with the Depp man:

He does out-there roles – Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, Willy Wonka, and Pirates. But then he brings it back and reminds us that he’s a good actor and not just a character in things like Blow, Nick of Time (underrated), Finding Neverland (saw it alone and cried in a theater), and Chocolat.

Lets not forget he’s an attractive guy and has a ton of sex appeal. But seriously, the thing about Depp is that ever since he took on Jack Sparrow he became more than a house hold name – he became an international brand. Disney has taken The Pirates franchise and marketed it to the masses like no other movie in recent history.

Depp may be the one actor who appeals to men, women, kids, stoners, film geeks, auteurs, other actors, up and coming actors, people who want to act like their misunderstood, and anyone trying to make something commercial. He runs the gamut.

7) Leonardo DiCaprio: When this guy froze in the Atlantic Ocean and Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go on was cued DiCaprio locked this position down. Leo was sort of an actor version of Justin Bieber many years ago and managed to flex his talent muscle throughout his career.

I actually don’t know where to begin with this guy – He’s a legit Hollywood actor that can take on any role. I think for a while he was screwed because he’s always had this younger boy presence (which isn’t a bad thing) but it was difficult to believe everything he was doing. But now with age he’s able to be even more believable.

What’s especially great about Leo is that he had street cred with most Hollywood directors – I’m excited for his role in Django Unchained directed by Tarantino – coming out next year.

8) Will Smith: This is easy. He’s Will Smith. This man has worked his career like he’s a machine for the last 30 years, literally. He’s methodically become a superstar. Bill Simmons recently wrote a really good look into how this guy has become this guy.

Will Smith released a song call “Mr. NiceGuy” which pretty much sums up why he’ll always have a free pass.

9) Tom Hanks: In the 90’s this guy was the romcom king with Meg Ryan, he then went on to win back to back best actor awards and solidify himself as one of the most likable and bankable actors in Hollywood.

I love that Hanks has spread himself across most genres and platforms. Not to mention… he was in Radio Flyer (underrated).

10) George Clooney: Rounding out the Top 10 is George “I’ve probably slept with you” Clooney. I think Clooney is brilliant and I’ll tell you why:

Early in Clooney’s career, and after he broke out of ER, he did From Dusk Till Dawn, which was so totally out there and basically opposite smug doctor Clooney, it gained him some movie cred considering it was directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written by Tarantino. But then Clooney said… I want to be a superstar and I want it now…

He jumped into One Fine Day, The Peacemaker, and Batman and Robin. Somewhere in those movies he smartened up and did Out of Sight with J-Lo but more importantly its was directed by Steven Soderbergh. I think it was this movie he said to himself “It’s better to work with good people rather than take the mainstream shortcut with easy films” (in those exact words).

From Out of Sight Clooney played it safe with his decisions all while taking on very difficult (smart) roles. He worked in films that had good/strong content. He surrounded himself with good people and even if a movie was crappy he always had the crutch to fall back on and say, “hey, it was a good story.” It’s like his movies have a fail safe if they’re bad… does this make sense?

Also – he’s a good director, and we all forgot he was in Leatherheads.


Tom Cruise:
I can’t believe he’s not in my top 10 but lets be honest here, his couch jumping really F’d him. Just recently Mission Impossible 4 got bullied by Sherlock Holmes 2, and MI4 moved their release date anticipating a Homes box office ass kicking, come on… How did that happen to Tom Cruise? Unfortunately, everyone wants to see him fail so he doesn’t have the free pass anymore.

Brad Pitt: Ehhh, he should maybe be in the top 10.

Matt Damon: See Brad Pitt

The entire cast of Ocean’s 11, 12, 13:
Soderbergh effect. See Damon.

Robert Downey Jr.: He’s getting to free pass status but he’s been down before and it could happen again, I need to see more.

Clint Eastwood: I had to put him here. Sure, he’s a director now but when he’s in a film he brings the goods, not to mention he’s a legend.

Sean Connery: Arguably the best 007 ever, also Indiana Jones’ dad. I think I have Indy Joes bias.

Honorable Mention:

Julia Roberts
Bruce Willis
Robin Williams
Russell Crowe
Marky Mark
Keanu Reeves
Michael J Fox
Eddie Murphy
Kevin Costner
Will Ferrell

I just read that Cowboys and Aliens edged The Smurfs by $800,000 —- There is hope for adventure.