Levitt Rates One Man Movies

island

I have to begin by saying that I am not the biggest fans of these types of movies .  Other than the fact that the film’s scheduling and wardrobe are a breeze, they are much more problematic on a dramatic level .Its simply hard to create suspense when you’re just  one actor screaming into a vacuum.

Its also an extremely tall order for one actor, no matter how skilled, to interesting for at least one hour and 45 minutes.  Even hyper Stand-ups like Chris Roc find it hard to capture my attention for their full set.

Despite their limitations and weaknesses, however, here are a list of notable one man movies I have compiled and why they films sometimes fail when their actors/producers make the decision to go solo.

When Nice Actors meet Boring plotlines.

hanks

The Castaway-  Come for the tropical breezes stay for the soccer-ball.  You know its a bad sign when a soccer ball has more personality than anyone else in the film.  With a blood splatter on its face, the famous Wilson soccer ball at least appears to  be spending large stretches of the film smiling.  Hanks’ dour stoicism in the face of nature,  however, makes for an earnest but ultimately less than fully compelling result. I find Hanks  best when he can riff on frustration or be goofy with other actors.  Although frequently cast in films as an everyman, he’s a social everyman.   More Cary Grant than Gary Cooper to use a somewhat less than perfect comparison. I’ve never thought of Hanks (despite a few moments in Philadelphia) as a particularly emotive actor.  The long stretches of non-speaking scenes on the Island also don’t do the usually gabby Hanks any favors either.  The soccer ball- proving it had more bounce- proves a more sympathetic character as it helplessly floats away from Hanks’ makeshift boat after a storm.  Here the visual image is more moving than anything Hanks ever does acting-wise in the film  The film’s main bullet-points:  Hanks can make fire, hanks can find shelter, Hanks can perform his own root-canal using an ice skate proved ultimately more interesting in a documentary way than compelling as drama.

 Legally Blond Tames “The Wild” In Wild, Witherspoon’s trek to “find herself”while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail  also seemed somewhat random and puzzling and offered no real resolution to her inner psychological turmoil except for a sense of “I did it” achievement in braving the elements  The plot doesn’t little to really test Witherspoon other than provide some roadside inconveniences (low rations, no shower) rather than than any real life-death struggles.   Furthermore, even without make-up,  Witherspoon is too cute and spunky to convince the audience she’s ever in any real jeopardy.  The plotline doesn’t help things by constantly paving the roadside with kind Johnny-the-spot sojourners who help Witherspoon with an occasional leg up.

reese

 

127 hours and The Martian.Left to die never felt so Good!   127 Hours and The Martian  fit into the category where in a film featuring man against nature, I find myself rooting for nature.  In this kind of survivalist flicks, having sympathy/empathy for the character is crucial to the films success. Unfortunately,  Similar to presidential candidate, Donald Trump, You just can’t root for Damon and Franco because their negatives are too high. I’m ultimately blase about their ability to survive in harsh terrain when they are so pampered as celebrities.  Damon’s the golden child of film. He always plays the unflappable, always-in-charge hero, assassin, card player, or math genius. So,  in “The Martian” when Damon was trapped on Mars, it had a a ho-hum vibe. I thought  There’s  Damon trying to rough it for a few weeks on Mars. Big deal. I wonder how long it will be before he can go back to his hotel room and crash.  in 127 Days, with James Franco’s never ending list of accomplishments:  actor, poet, professor, artist,  I honestly felt it would be dong a public service if his arm were  really caught in a cave. Then, with Franco literally stuck between a rock and a hard place,   Maybe  it would give a true shot to a more deserving actor, poet, artist a chance in the already very competitive creative arena.

franco

The End Of The World Was Better The first Time Around

Say what you want about Charleton Heston, the man sure knew how to leave a mark. (no direct pun on the carving of The Carving Of The Ten Commandments).  In films like Planet Of The Apes and Omegan Man,  Omega man.  Charleton Heston (because of his rugged looks and abrasive demeanor) seems like, through sheer stubbornness he would be the last man on the Earth. Simply, he has a good  personality for a misanthrope. He disdains mankind; randomly pistol-shooting mutants or brow-beating simians…. In I Am Legend, Wil Smith is a much harder sell in the sole survivor role.  With his  jocular people-pleaser personna, Its hard to conceive of Smith him spending five minutes alone much last the man standing on a dead planet. With that goofy laugh, big ears, etc.  Surely he has at least “Carlton” or Kevin James (“Hitch”) stashed away under a rock someplace.  He’d no sooner survive a deadly virus than a weekend without a card game with his actor buddies.  Indeed, if wil Smith found himself caught as the last man on a dead planet, he could just always find a way to easilly joke himself out of the problem.

hestonsmith

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