Monday, November 1, 2010

In Defense of Keanu

Keanu Reeves has been the go-to example of a famous actor being completely terrible at their chosen craft since he landed a supporting role in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula 18 years ago.  I know that his first major role was Ted "Theodore" Logan in the Bill & Ted movies, but Coppola's film was his first large-budget A-list gig - and he completely sucked in it.  He was wooden, awkward, and spoke in the worst British accent that I have ever heard.  That being said, I don't think I don't think people give Reeves enough credit.  There are plenty of other famous actors that are more worthy punching bags.  Cameron Diaz comes to mind.  Outside of There's Something About Mary and Being John Malkovich, Diaz has jumped from one bad performance to another.

Keanu, on the other hand, can do good work if he plays to his strengths.  Clearly, the man is not meant to play a member of Mensa.  Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is not the funniest movie in the world, but how many actors can you think of who can deliver a line like "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K" without it sounding unintentionally funny?

Reeves also put a great spin on the moron act in Parenthood, where he gives a heartbreaking monologue about fatherhood, and the little-seen, but quite amusing I Love You to Death opposite Kevin Kline and William Hurt.

In 1994, Keanu's career took off with Speed and he is one of the main reasons for the film's rising status as a new classic.  He is immensely likable in it and finally showed that he can play someone who is not stupid...or at least not that stupid.  He did play an action movie hero after all...  Reeves turned in plenty of bad performances throughout the 90s in films such as A Walk in the Clouds and The Devil's Advocate, but The Matrix once again proved that Keanu was a capable leading man.  The sequels did not live up to the hype and Reeves' career post-Matrix has been very spotty, but I think that Keanu's future is in smaller roles.  He should get back to his roots as a colorful supporting character.  See the recent indie film Thumbsucker to see what I'm talking about.  Trust me, Keanu Reeves has something to offer.

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