In light of the soon-to-be-released-in-theaters film Jeff Who Lives At Home, an independently produced movie starring big name actors Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon, I thought I’d offer you a list of the best indie movies I’ve seen that starred high profile comedians in unexpected roles:
Stranger Than Fiction: this lovely little flick felt like a breath of fresh air after Old School and The Wedding Crashers, not that I didn’t love Ferrell in both those outrageous comedies, because I sooo did, but Harold Crick was one of the most well-written and charmingly-acted characters of the ’00s. Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal had chemistry the likes of Hanks & Ryan, but the icing on this beautiful cake was Ferrell’s rendition of my favorite punk ballad.
Dan In Real Life: not even Dane Cook could ruin this sweetly soulful romantic comedy. Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche seemed perfect for each other from their first moments on-screen together, so much so that the rest of the film’s 85 minutes felt like a tortuous tease.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: as strange and often slow as this movie was, Jim Carrey stunned me with his ability to play a disheveled and heartbroken man, a character polar opposite from the over-the-top caricatures he usually portrays.
The Vicious Kind: Adam Scott has shown us silly (Step Brothers) and he’s shown us serious (anyone remember HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me?) but only in 2009’s independent drama, The Vicious Kind, has he given us a performance so deep and tortured and rich in nuance that it’s hard to believe he’s the same actor who plays Ben Wyatt, the sweetly geeky accounts auditor who swept Leslie Knope off her feet. His portrayal as Caleb Sinclaire aroused both fear and intrigue, making it easy to understand the confusion in co-star Brittany Snow. Like Snow’s character, I, too, found Caleb simultaneously (somehow) repulsive and sexy.
Observe and Report: to anyone who doubts Seth Rogen’s talent as an actor, I have simply to say: watch Observe and Report. In a less-capable actor’s hands, Ronnie Barnhardt could easily have been just another pathetic rent-a-cop on a power trip. Instead, what we saw was a deeply troubled, somewhat delusional, mentally ill young man grasping desperately at a chance to prove his self-worth.
Spanglish: honestly, I did not love this movie. But I did love Adam Sandler’s surprisingly heartfelt performance of a man living in quiet desperation, displeased with the course of his career, unhappy in his relationship with his wife, inept at connecting with his children, and too timid to actively change anything. Knowing he’s capable of a performance like this makes it all the more unbearable to watch the garbage he’s forced upon us for the past few years.
Have a great weekend.