Sunday, July 16, 2006
The Repulsive Allure of Greg Kinnear
True story: Not twenty minutes ago, Honey and I just finished watching The Matador. Just now, I was just surfing the web looking for images of Greg Kinnear and my husband, peeking over my shoulder says, "Who the hell is that guy?"
Here's the deal. I don't know what to make of Greg Kinnear. I never seek out movies he's in, but I'm always somehow pleasantly surprised to find that he's in a movie I've happened to rent. (I'm not sure that I've ever seen him on the big silver.) When I see his name flash up on the credits, my first impulse is, "oh shit, this is gonna suck." But invariably he's up and it's okay. He surpasses my expectations.
Greg Kinnear could pretty much never be a leading man, but he's the best middle-class white "everyman" Hollywood has. He's better at it than Tom Hanks - there, I said it - but as far as I'm concerned, could never carry a movie by himself. Granted, it was tried with Auto Focus, and from what I know it didn't really fly. And I suspect it wasn't because people weren't terribly interested in the porn habits of the actor from Hogan's Heroes - though, yeah, you can't deny that kind of anipathy - so much as it was because the lead in the film was our darling, Greg. He's just too damned good as the dry toast nice guy, the world's best second fiddle, a man born to be a foil. Where some actors are chameleons, like my beloved Cate, Greg Kinnear is more like water: he takes the shape of whatever container he's put in, but he's still water, whether a raging ocean or a morning dew drop. Kind of like Bill Pullman. ... y'know: that guy.
I think that's why I'm so torn about him. Part of me wants to hate him for his non-leading-manishness, for his "middle class white guy" in every film tendency. But the other part of me is really quite impressed by how well he commits to his everyman characters. I have yet to see Tom Hanks, America's favorite Everyman, commit the way Greg Kinnear has.
I have to give him props for making Auto Focus, though. I have to give props to any actor who challenges the pigeonhole the industry has given him or her. (With the exception of Julia Roberts. She should have never attempted Mary Reilly. Sorry, doll. Stay away from accent pieces.) I can't remember if I want to see that movie, though: I seem to remember a Fresh Air interview with Kinnear about that movie that creeped me out. It almost doesn't matter. If I rent it, I know I'll be secretly chastising myself for renting a Greg Kinnear movie, and once I watch it, I'll probably be pleasantly surprised by his performance. Oh, the dilemma!