Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Unfunny Three Stooges?

NYMag declares Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro to be unfunny.

Seems like a bum rap to me.

1. Jim Carrey is the new Curly

Obviously, the comedy merits (or lack thereof) of Jim Carrey are, more or less, common knowledge. You like "Ace Ventura" and "Liar, Liar," or you don't.

Carrey is at his best when he downplays the kookiness, as he did in Peter Weir's "The Truman Show." or "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" which was directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman.

Carrey's comic persona has an element of creepiness, exploited to comic effect in Ben Stiller's underappreciated "The Cable Guy." If you liked Stiller's recent "Tropic Thunder," and you haven't seen "Cable Guy," add it to the Netflix queue.

2. Benicio Del Toro is the new Moe

Not an automatic pick for the role, but Del Toro has demonstrated comic talents before.

Benecio managed to do some terrific pratfalls as a crooked cop in Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City," including getting dunked in a toilet. He was similarly effective in Guy Ritchie's comic thriller "Snatch", in which he committed a robbery while dressed as a Hasidic Jew.

But Del Toro's best comic credential is his bizarre turn as Doctor Gonzo in Terry Gilliam's film version of Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Del Toro gained forty pounds to play a gun-toting, sex-crazed maniac, tweaked on a fictional drug called adrenochrome. Nothing on Del Toro's resume indicated that he could perform this role, but he subsumed himself in it and matched the chameleon-like Johnny Depp in weirdness.

3. Sean Penn is Larry

Sean Penn is known for his self-seriousness about his politics and his craft. But he was very funny as a neurotic jazz guitarist in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown."

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