My Name Is Jason Bateman and I Approved This Movie

4 Jan

Hello everyone! Happy New Year!  I’m back from a very nice, relaxing break, thought I’d get back at it.  Last weekend, I watched Ricky Gervais’ new movie “The Invention of Lying,” and really enjoyed it.  However, there was one thing that struck me as a little odd, and it was to do with the casting.

Basically, the movie is sweet and charming as hell, and has some great performances from its leads – Jenifer Garner is super adorable and funny and Ricky Gervais is great and even busts out the capital-“A” acting chops a bit.  Rob Lowe is also great, and plays that un-self-aware prick that he can play so well.

But dude, the rest of the cast is kind of… an overstuffed mess.  Granted, an overstuffed mess of people I really enjoy, but all the same… without spoiling anything, the film features: Martin Starr, Jason Bateman, Stephen Merchant, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Nate Corddry… and when John Hodgman showed up for all of thirty seconds near the end of the film, I was actually getting kind of weirded out.

I was probably just me, but I sorta got the sense that they were parading these people out for us, saying “See? Here’s another hip, funny actor you love!” And clearly the actors were all happy to be involved with something that Ricky Gervais did, but the end result wound up feeling a little …club-y?  Like they were each saying “My name is [Famous Comedian] and I approve of this movie. And of Ricky Gervais in general. And so should you.”

And, of course, I do approve of Ricky Gervais, and all of those actors, but even so, it was a bit much.  And while The Invention of Lying certainly isn’t the first movie to do that, it was the first time I noticed it as much as I did.

Am I alone on this? There’s nothing wrong with it, I guess, but I think I would’ve preferred more selective, focused casting.  Tina Fey, Louis C.K., and Rob Lowe were all great.  Maybe we could’ve done without Tambor, Bateman, Hodgeman, and the rest?  The film itself suffers from a bit of lack-of-focus, too (things get pretty hairy when they tackle religion for fifteen minutes then drop it), so really, the casting shenanigans just contributed to a larger feeling of over-stuffedness, but still, they did contribute.

It’s gotta be hard when you’re Ricky Gervais, and you’ve got half the comic actors in Hollywood breaking down your door to be in your next film. But sometimes it’s best to just say, “Next time, Jason.”

"And I'll write you a role that has more than three lines, too!"


4 Responses to “My Name Is Jason Bateman and I Approved This Movie”

  1. The Sonia Show January 4, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    You can never have too much Jason Bateman in a movie, if you ask me. I will never get over my teenage girl crush on him.

    • Kirk January 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

      True, though I think my issue was that we didn’t get enough of those actors… most of the parts felt shoehorned in, so more like celebrity endorsements than actual roles. It’s cool once or twice, but for whatever reason, in this movie it started to feel like a bit much.

      But you’re right, it’s hard to get too upset about being given the privilege of watching Jason Bateman be funny for five minutes.

    • Kirk January 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

      A second, random, slightly more spoiler-y thought about the movie – if memory serves, this is the second time (first was Ghost Town) that Gervais has been a romantic lead and hasn’t gotten to kiss the girl. Like, he gets the girl, but they never show them kiss. Much less sleep together. It reminded me of Chris Farley and Julie Warner in Tommy Boy.

      It makes the whole thing feel nice and old-fashioned, but I get the feeling that the real reason was that they knew that we, the American viewing public, just aren’t comfortable watching a short, doughy, fang-toothed dude kiss a tall, beautiful woman. So maybe it’s on us?

      But while it’s fun to put Gervais up against amazon babes like Garner and Tea Leoni, Extras showed how great he can be alongside someone with whom he has real chemistry, where romantic fulfillment doesn’t require us to close our eyes and suspend disbelief… not that Ashley Jensen is anything less than a total babe, but for whatever reason, they worked together better than Garner or Leoni.

  2. Trumpet Rick January 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    At what point does a role become a bloated cameo?

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