I’ve often talked about how some actors/directors seem to forget what their audiences want from them as time passes. Many stood out due to youthful voices/personas which haven’t aged well, while others attempted to go the dramatic route and haven’t been able to find their way since returning the comedy. Here are my top 4 Comedic Actors Who Have Lost Their Way (in no particular order).
Adam Sandler made a name for himself on Saturday Night Live by using silly voices, singing goofy songs, and playing overgrown children. A strong sense of family and appreciation of the elderly is common in many of Sandler’s early films, balancing out his characters’ immaturity and poor anger management skills. This charm and heart has been slowly drained from his work, to the point where his latest films have an overwhelming sense of meanness to them. I believe too many years on top has also allowed Sandler to forget what it’s like to be the common man. Many of his recent characters are wealthy, living in beautiful houses, married to gorgeous women, but he still clearly sees himself as an everyman type. A man who has everything but maintains a mean streak would be the bad guy in any other film.
Personal Favorite: The charmingly retro The Wedding Singer
Low-Point: His recent ode to statutory rape That’s My Boy
Kevin Smith shocked many when his ultra-low-budget debut film Clerks took the film world by storm. Known for vulgar language and frequent pop culture references, he also tried to tackle deeper themes like sexuality and religion. After his love letter to his daughter Jersey Girl became a critical and box office flop, mostly due to the inclusion of that pop culture juggernaut Bennifer, Smith struggled to find his voice in a comedy world dominated by the likes of Judd Apatow. Recently, he’s at his best when he’s himself. His Q&A tours have been filmed for the Evening With Kevin Smith series. Smith claimed the drama Red State may be his last film and has admitted to be out of things to say, at least for the moment.
Personal Favorite: His commentary on organized religion Dogma.
Low-Point: Watching the clerks who started it all still working menial jobs twelve years later in Clerks 2.
Mike Meyers has created some of the most quotable characters of his generation. He successfully brought his popular SNL character Wayne Campbell to the big screen in two hit movies and then secured his status as a comedy supernova as that international man of mystery, Austin Powers. While the first Austin Powers film was a rather clever fish out of water comedy, the sequels rely heavily on cheap jokes and pay more attention to giving Myers a quantity of characters to play without insuring any of them are quality. He’s stayed busy playing the animated ogre Shrek, another series that has more sequels than the world really needed, but it’s been a decade since he had a live action hit. Word that a fourth Austin Powers is in the works is proof he has no new ideas.
Personal Favorite: Disappointing sequels make one forget just how good Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery really was.
Low-Point: The racially insensitive The Love Guru was a blip on the box office radar.
Jim Carrey was the comic king of the 90s, known for his rubberface and wacky voices. However, being the biggest name in comedy wasn’t enough for Carrey and he began to focus on dramatic work. While he received critical praise for his work in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon, Oscar gold eluded him. Lately, Carrey seems confused both professionally and personally. He launched his own website that is considered cluttered and attracted not so positive attention when he released a video declaring his lust for actress Emma Stone, who is younger than his own daughter. His latest was the unnecessary modernization of the children’s classic Mr.Popper’s Penguins.
Personal Favorite: Carrey is hilarious as a lawyer who cannot tell a lie in Liar, Liar.
Low-Point: Carrey is an awkward fit in the numerically obsessed thriller The Number 23.