Entertainment Weekly recently “graded” comebacks, and how effectively they worked. Here are my thoughts on their thoughts:
Robert Downey Jr- The Singing Detective- Successful and Triumphant
People forget The Singing Detective was part of RDJ’s rebirth. No one would hire him following his last rehab stint. Gibson brought him back for The Singing Detective, which is technically the start of his comeback. He proved he could work in films like Gothika, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Good Night and Good Luck, Zodiac, and finally he became Iron Man. It’s a major comeback. He went from being uncastable and uninsurable to one of the biggest actors working today. Oh, and he got an Oscar nomination for Tropic Thunder.
Matthew McConaughey- Magic Mike and Ben Affleck for The Town
This is a bit of a cheat. It’s not a comeback, it’s a reinvention. McConaughey started making people believe he could be an actor, and it led to Dallas Buyers Club. Affleck did the same thing with The Town. If Ben Affleck had a comeback, it began with Hollywoodland, where he earned strong reviews for playing George Reeves, after a string of flops like Surviving Christmas, Jersey Girl, and Gigli.
Steve Martin- Shopgirl- Embarrassing and Unsuccessful
Considering that Shopgirl has a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’d hardly consider this embarrassing. And considering that his previous film was Cheaper By The Dozen, which was a hit, I don’t even know why Shopgirl was on the list. What exactly did he come “back” from? It wasn’t Martin’s first shot at “acting” either, as Novocaine earned him strong reviews, as did The Spanish Prisoner. Afterward, he followed it with Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (82M Domestic) and The Pink Panther (81M Domestic).
Eddie Murphy- Dreamgirls- Triumphant and Unsuccessful
An Oscar nomination is Unsuccessful? The problem here was that Murphy squandered his opportunity, and has never returned to drama since then. Instead of continuing being a diverse talent, he returned to films like Norbit, and made increasingly poor decisions.
Hilary Swank- Amelia- Triumphant and Unsuccessful
I don’t understand how Steve Martin got trashed for Shopgirl, but Hilary Swank get a pass for Amelia, which has a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. It also is assuming that Hilary Swank went away, which she didn’t. PS I Love You was kind of a sleeper hit 2 years earlier with 53M. She was never a box office draw, and still isn’t. She’s known for her performances, not for putting butts in seats. I agree that Amelia was unsuccessful, but it wasn’t triumphant.
Thomas Haden Church- Sideways- Not On The List?
We seemed to have forgotten about a huge comeback. Church went from being “that guy from Wings” to an Oscar nominee. His biggest role in between was being the bad guy in George Of The Jungle. Since Sideways, he’s played Sandman, did voiceover in Over The Hedge, and most recently Heaven Is For Real.
Ruby Dee- American Gangster- Triumphant and Successful
Successful? By what standard? Dee was working steadily, and was not an above the title actress prior to Gangster. She still is not an above the title actress, and has only appeared in one major theatrical release since American Gangster…. Eddie Murphy’s flop A Thousand Words. Triumphant, maybe. Successful? No.
Andrew Dice Clay- Blue Jasmine- Triumphant and Unsuccessful
I think this one is too early to call. Much like how Robert Downey Jr didn’t go from The Singing Detective to Iron Man overnight, Clay is slowly rebuilding his career. He guested in an episode of The Blacklist, and has a project in development at HBO. I think the jury is still out.
Mickey Rourke- The Wrestler- Triumphant and Unsuccessful
This is a bit of a cheat. Sin City was really his comeback. It’s what got him noticed as more than a D-rate action actor, and brought him back in the spotlight, and ultimately got him the role in The Wrestler.
Demi Moore- Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle- Embarrassing and Successful
I agree. Embarassing. Successful? Considering her last big movie was GI Jane in 2007, six years prior, I can understand how you would think that. She followed Charlie’s Angels with Half Light, which went straight-to-video, and some indie limited release films. She has yet to really surge back into the spotlight. She hasn’t anchored a single wide release film since Charlie’s Angels. Her last “wide release” role was in 2007. Successful? Not really.
There are others on the list. Most of them I agree with. But these are the ones I had the strongest thoughts on.