Monday, 14 December 2015

Film Round-Up #11

She may not particularly popular among film fans but I've always been very keen on Jennifer Aniston (at least in part thanks to her always-prominent 'nippular area'). As she proved in Friends over the years, she's a talented comedic actress, but she is capable of more varied roles as well, such as slutty nympho, Julia Harris, in the Horrible Bosses films, and accident victim Claire in this year's Cake.

Most of her work has ended up being in sub-standard romantic comedies though, and while a bit of light-hearted fluff is fine in moderation, she has often seemed stuck in a rut, or even a downwards spiral into oblivion as harsher critics might claim. Here I've taken a look, bravely, some might say, at a selection of her films in the hopes of finding a gem or two amongst the generic rom-coms and other bits and pieces:

Along Came Polly (2004)

One of her first post-Friends films, and it's unsurprisingly a rom-com featuring Jen opposite the usually-decent Ben Stiller (Reuben) who's just broken up with his wife after she cheated on him on the first day of their honeymoon. While he's moping around, however... along came Polly (Aniston) as the title suggests! Polly is a free-spirited, rather directionless ex-classmate of Reuben's whom he starts dating, and her laid-back attitude helps him overcome his neuroses and venture outside his 'safe' comfort zone. That is until his estranged wife (Debra Messing) returns seeking a reunion, obviously. It's silly, predictable nonsense as it probably sounds really, but I still couldn't help but enjoy it anyway. Stiller and Aniston's characters are likeable and they have some decent support from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Missi Pyle as the respective 'best friends', and there are some good laughs amongst the more corny stuff. Not everything works but this isn't nearly as bad an effort as some claim... 7/10

Derailed (2005)

Unusual for actually not being yet another rom-com, this was instead one of Ms. Aniston's first ventures into more dramatic territory. She plays Lucinda, a married financial adviser who begins an affair with the equally-espoused executive, Charles (Clive Owen), but when they are getting it on in a cheap hotel, they are soon interrupted by an armed thug who beats/rapes Charles and Lucinda respectively. They part ways but soon Charles begins receiving threats from the thug who starts blackmailing him for large sums of money. After paying once he inevitably receives further demands, but when he can't afford to continue paying he decides to take matters into his own hands starting with tracking down Lucinda. This was the first non-comedic role I'd seen Ms. Aniston attempt and she does a pretty good job as the alluring sexpot. Indeed, she makes it easy to see how one might get ensnared by her. Who would honestly turn her down? Owen and Vincent Cassel (the thug) are good too. The story probably isn't as clever or original as the filmmakers seem to think, but it was intriguing enough and I was interested to see how events played out. Also not as bad as many say... 6/10

Rumour Has It (2005)

For one reason or another this was among the more well-known films of Aniston's at the time. That may have been due to the superb cast which includes our nippy friend as Sarah, as well as Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Shirley MacLaine, and Mena Suvari as her fiance, father, grandmother, and sister respectively, and Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs, an ex-classmate of her mother's with whom she has now run off to have relations with. Subsequent 'rumours' also hint that it might not be the first time Beau has canoodled with a member of Sarah's family. Intrigued, she starts looking into her family's past and discovers her grandmother might have been the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson, the infamous character from novel and film, The Graduate. This might sound like a bit of a silly gimmick, and it is, but it's not as good as you might hope. There is little humour considering it's meant to be a rom-com, and the impressive cast is not put to the best use either thanks to bland, uninspiring dialogue. Aniston does as well as any of them but it's just not an interesting enough film for me... 5/10

Love Happens (2009)

The horrifyingly generic name given to this one was not a good sign and I was filled with 'The Creeping Fear' before watching it, which only worsened when I discovered it's not a rom-com but a romantic drama. It stars Aniston as Eloise, a flower-shop owner from Seattle who meets Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart), a therapist who also runs a self-help workshop giving advice on dealing with the loss of a loved one, having written a book on the subject after losing his wife in a car crash for which he still blames himself. So yes, I suspect you can already see where this one is going, as I could within minutes of starting it - the lovely (and mysteriously-single) Eloise helps Burke with his own grief along with his father (Martin Sheen), and soon he's ready to get down with her, etc. I'm okay with watching this kind of film if it's a good example but this really isn't, sadly. It does have a bit of emotional depth but it's not original, the characters aren't interesting, and the actors have little chemistry, so it's really hard to maintain any interest while you wait for something profound to happen... 3/10

The Bounty Hunter (2010)

By the time this one was released my expectations of Ms. Aniston's films had already been sufficiently lowered, and sure enough, it's not a classic. She stars as Nicole, an investigative journalist who gets arrested for assaulting a police officer. When she skips her bond hearing after receiving a tip on an important story, a bounty hunter is sent after her in the form of Milo (Gerard Butler), a former NYPD detective who just happens to also be her ex-husband. So yes, it's another rather predictable one, albeit with a bit more action and humour than the last effort resulting from the oafs chasing the bickering couple - thugs after each of them separately as well as a colleague of Nicole's who has the hots for her (can't blame him for that I guess). The concept had at least a little potential but it just doesn't work at all - it's not interesting, the stars have no chemistry - as with Love Happens in other words. I've seen it described as an 'assembly-line Hollywood product' and that sums it up perfectly - no one involved seems bothered by it and that will include you if you watch it... 4/10

I think I've punished myself enough for now but, worryingly, I have seen more of her films so I'll will be back with another Aniston round-up at some point. Oh well, at least she's a treat on the eyes. That's probably part of the problem though...


  1. Check out "Cake". She should have actually got an oscar for that one.

  2. Yeah, it's definitely her best performance yet. Possibly not her most enjoyable films but great work from her. I may give that one a full review at some point...

  3. The only time I've ever enjoyed her in a film is Office Space - and even in that she's mostly a background character (who's more or less Rachel with a different name).

  4. Haha, I love that film. I'd definitely say it's one of the best films with her in it but, like you say, you can't really call it an Aniston film... "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta" :P