Friday, June 11, 2010

Posterized: Big Willie Style

Is there a true movie superstar we've discussed less than Will Smith? I was thinking about him last night since he's foisting his son upon the world again this weekend in The Karate Kid (2010 version).

<-- Smith with both Karate Kids. But, heyyy, where's Hilary Swank?

Some celebrities hide their kids away but Smith has seemingly always been okay with dragging his kids to public things like awards show and even awards show podiums. What would that do to you to regularly experience thunderous applause and flashing paparazzi bulbs as a toddler?

I haven't seen The Karate Kid yet because the original is like a sacred part of any 80s childhood/adolescence and the switch in venues will surely bring one of my least favorite things to the surface: That arrogant childish American notion that we are always better at everything than people anywhere else are, even if it's something we've never done before or are statistically comparatively inept at (like eduction and healthcare but we still scream "#1!" to our own detriment. It sure makes improving difficult when you always know you're the best). WHOA. Off Topic. Sorry, you know how pet peeves can get to you. My point is this: I'm assuming little Jaden gets better at martial arts -- within about a month -- than the Asian bullies you see in the trailer who've presumably been studying it their whole lives. I'm guessing.

The Will Smiths: How many have you seen?

Where the Day... (92) | Made in America (92) | 6 Degrees of Separation (93)

Bad Boys (95) | Independence Day (96) | Men in Black (97)

Enemy of State (98)| Wild Wild West (99) | Legend of Bagger Vance (00)

Ali (01) | MIIB (02) | Bad Boys II (03)

I, Robot (04) | Hitch (05) | The Pursuit of Happyness (06)

I am Legend (07) | Hancock (08) | Seven Pounds (08)

He's only starred in 18 movies. (I thought it'd be more... but I've only seen 11.) Strangely he was absent from cinemas last year and will be again this year. What's going on? Don't tell me he's veering towards Tom Cruise's unmistakable crazy. I suppose that could happen. In regards to these posters. I was surprised the marketing departments don't use the dread "floating movie star head" that often with his movies. His body shows up frequently, too.

You have to admire his (contractual?) consistency. Almost exactly one picture a year. It splits the difference between "out of sight, out of mind" and "absence makes the heart grow fonder".

I actually think he's sometimes quite a good actor or at least far better than is required of someone in his position (see: I Am Legend) and I don't really understand the anger some people had about his Ali nomination (though that was certainly a competitive year with lots of good choices snubbed). But overall he tends to make the kind of corporate blockbusters that never excite me -- too processed.

Anyway, a truth: my parents love him. Do you?
*

42 comments:

JA said...

Wow I've seen 12 of those 18 movies. I used to like him quite a lot and I agree that he's really very good in I Am Legend (the first hour of that movie's terrific overall but then just unravels as the CG monsters swarm) but he's started getting on my nerves these days and it's only getting worse the more he pushes his insufferable son on us. And that insufferable wife of his. And his insufferable friendship with insufferable Tom Cruise.

NATHANIEL R said...

yeah it's so weird that he'd get so much more annoying when he stopped being onscreen... seriously where has he been. Other than you know, opening up a school and whatnot. but wasn't that like two years ago?

Sawyer said...

Hopefully he hasn't been making a rap album.

Agustin said...

wow
last film I saw him in was 8 years ago! MIB 2
he's definitely not an international super star.. people don't go crazy for his films outside of the us
or at least I assume it..
should check actual numbers before commenting!

Runs Like A Gay said...

I've only seen 5 (plus I, Robot without sound).

I always think I like Will, but if I'm channel hopping and one of his films is on I very rarely watch until the end.

From what I've seen, and I'm obviously not best placed to judge, he's a better actor when he's not trying so hard. Seven Pounds - acting so much it's painful to watch vs. Independence Day where he's so natural.

Robert Hamer said...

Okay, I'm pretty sure that blisteringly funny yet deppressingly true opening tirade about The Karate Kid, especially after a rough day on the ship, is EXACTLY what I needed to cheer up.

Thanks again Nat for doing more for me than aspirin ever did.

/3rtfu11 said...

I don’t like him. I resent him forcing his children on us. Until the day comes for them to become the new equivalent of John and Joan Cusack – I will continue to resent their mere presence in Hollywood product that doesn’t also co-star their parents.

Btw the Made in America poster reminded me you haven’t written a piece on Whoopi. She is hands down the most successful black woman in Hollywood history. Nat I want your thoughts on her relationships will handsome actors – Ted Danson, Frank Langella, Timothy Dalton, and rumor has it she’s slept with young Val Kilmer!

I think only two auteur(s) have directed her – Spielberg and Altman. She’s the only black woman with two nominations. She’s worked with Gwyneth, Angelina, Sally Field, La`Pfeiffer – countless others and Oprah hates her unofficially (she’s never been a guest on her show!).

Clarence said...

I love him. I think I'm genuinely a mainstream film kind of guy despite my enthusiasm for artsy flicks and foreign language films.

Will Smith is kind of my hero when it comes to blockbusters. I have always thought of him as watchable at whatever he does. I bet if he was in Transformers II, that movie would have been bearable (for me).

I think his best performance was I Am Legend. That movie was really great despite the very unconvincing CGI monsters. You can really see through his lonely heart. After that,I think he was wonderful in Pursuit of Happyness. That was a well-deserved nomination (IMO).

I actually miss him from the usual summer blockbusters. It's kinda depressing not seeing a Will Smith flick every year. It's like an annual tradition to me now.

I am genuinely annoyed by his children though. I know that Jayden (I think that's his name) is young and everything, but seriously. His line readings are mostly eye-rollers and vomit-inducing. I remember his guest performance in Suite Life (on Disney Channel, yeah I know a HS kid still watching Disney, don't judge me :X)and how much I despised him for making an enjoyable show thoroughly disappointing. Yeah I get that he's still "blossoming" but I hate that Hollywood is already taking advantage of the kid just cuz he has Will Smith for a Dad.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed his films when I was a kid, now I just don´t care.

And he is very big in Brazil.


Remy

Laika said...

I've seen less than half of those films... and I didn't even realise at first. It took me a disturbingly long time to remember that I haven't actually seen 'I Am Legend' or 'The Pursuit of Happyness'. Movie marketing is colonising my brain!

Smith is really good in 'Six Degrees of Separation', and by and large I think he serves material better than it has any right to expect. At the bare minimum, he has charisma and good humour. The only performance of his that I'm really sour on is 'Bad Boys 2'; the film so favours his slick, complacent character, and pours such comic scorn on Martin Lawrence's struggling family man (he can't afford to buy his family a proper pool on a police officer's salary? What a sap! Let's all mock him as the free-standing pool he spent so much money on in order to appease his thankless, materialistic wife and children bursts its sides and dumps him in the sea. Point and laugh!) that Smith's charm ends up serving all the film's vilest, most inhumane tendencies.

@/3rtfu11: Oprah vs. Whoopi? Spill the gossip for us funny foreigners who aren't in on it.

Laika said...

Oh, and he plays himself in Kevin Smith's (very underrated) 'Jersey Girl'. It starts out seeming like it's going to be this awful, self-indulgent scene, but it's actually kind of funny and sweet (and, yes, a bit self-indulgent). Like most things in the film, it's twenty times more interesting than the scene you expect.

Andrew R. said...

I can live with the Ali nomination and Pursuit of Happyness too, but I don't like him except MAYBE in I Am Legend.

Oh, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Andy said...

The Karate Kid really did not need another sequel/remake/whatever but judging from the premise it looks like it will contain oodles of subtle racism.

I do like Will Smith though, not because of any of his movies (I Am Legend was especially poor) but the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I loved that show.

As for his son, well, I doubt he had to go through any auditions, competing against other actors on a level playing field. But he's a child and isn't responsible for his actions. His Dad is however.

The Film Junkie said...

I like him (and his family for that matter), but I'm liking his films less and less. Growing up watching him in the 90's, there's definitely a nostalgia factor, but I genuinely believe he has talent. I also think his performances in Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness were worthy of the nominations they received, but he's become too intent on actually winning an Oscar and that really comes through in Seven Pounds and it just makes him seem a bit desperate.

adri said...

I have seen 5 of those.

He lost me with Six Degrees of Separation, when he wouldnt do the kiss. If youre going to take the part, then do the part, or let someone (better than you) take it. Its a great part, but he didnt want to do the gay kiss, afraid it would sully his box office appeal.

Now hes a Scientologist. I guess it appeals to the rich and stupid who nobody ever says no to. I dont ever want to see his wife and children act either. Its like a brand, rather than actual actors and artists.

notanotherblog said...

BUT...The white/black child in either Karate Kid movies are taught by Asians, and despite how Americans take credit for their victories it's not fully theirs. Right?

I've only seen five Willie movies, the first one being Independence Day. I was eight or nine and I thought it was awesome and I thought he was the cutest guy in the world.

Years later I saw Six Degrees of Separation, and I'll always hold on to that and I'll always forgive him for being the annoying blockbuster guy. I don't if the fact that he was adamantly against kissing another guy will ruin it for me though.

Castor said...

Wow I have seen 14 out of 18, I never realized I had seen so many Will Smith movie until you asked. Let's face it, he is making so much money per movie that he really doesn't need to make more than one movie once every year or two which is smart as we never grow tired of him like some other movie stars pumping 2 or 3 movies in the same year.

Christine said...

One of my favorite things about watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was laughing at how Will Smith would recite ALL of the dialogue for ALL of the actors in any kind of group scene. Check out any of the group dialogue scenes from season one or two. He often recites the whole script under his breath while the other actors are talking.

When he made the move to the big screen he was still not a great actor by a long shot, but he always seemed like a kind of good, genial, action-movie star in his early films. I'm not really sure why his career has tapered off like it has. I hadn't really thought of him at all for years until this new Karate Kid movie.

Glenn Dunks said...

I've seen 11 of them. My favourite is probably Bad Boys, but I also have a fondness for that one because it reminds me of a time when Tea Leoni was still with us.

par3182 said...

i've seen three, maybe four (because i'm sure i am legend and i, robot are the same film)

never been a fan after his stinkin' up six degrees of separation, one of my favourite plays (i saw both courtney b vance and james daniels play the character onstage and smith didn't even put the shoes on, much less attempt to fill them) and the fact that he somehow had enough power to nix the kiss (and be obnoxious about it) still rankles

plus his wife scares me

G.ShaQ said...

I share the lack of enthusiasm. I agree that he's a good actor, and I liked him in The pursuit of Happyness which I though was an ok movie. Problem is, I look at the last 5 or 6 posters, and I just can't tell the difference. I can't even remember what the trailer was about and who else as in it. Same thing, different day. He doesn't move me or intrigue me in such a way that I look forward to his next role. Also, I don't know why, but I can't stand his wife. I think it's a collective, unspoken truth; children are raised to hate her without question. Everyone I know hates her. No one knows why.

Chris Na Taraja said...

Legend of Bagger Vance is the one I really love him in. He makes a great Krishna. You know that movie is based on the Baghavad Gita.

Marshall1 said...

For me it's not unfounded bias. I feel that he's always "on" and it's just a personality/brand that he puts on in front of cameras. Granted, he's a good actor (compared to the younger actors nowadays). I also don't need for him to shove his children right in front of my face. Maybe they are talented, but only time will tell. Likability does not equal talent, not necessarily. I think learning about humility and respect should be the first lessons hollywood kids should learn.......lol
Next megastar and fashionista? Suri Cruise.....lol

Marshall1 said...

I still remember Will Smith compared his son's acting ability to Johnny Depp.

NATHANIEL R said...

ewww. really?

MRRIPLEY said...

I have seen all of these except bad boys 2 'cos i loath michael bay films.

i really enjoyed his ali performance he was certainly better then sean penn in 2001 and i consider hackman supporting.

MRRIPLEY said...

Oh yeah i can't forgive for the nepotism with his son though all that "he has to audition" and "he asked us to let him act" as f***in' if.

jessica said...

I've always liked Will Smith.

"Strangely he was absent from cinemas last year and will be again this year. What's going on?"

I'd like to think that since Jada has been working lately (on that show HawthoRNe), that Will has been taking over most of the parenting duties. I'd like to think.

John T said...

I've only seen nine of his films, but it's hard to feel like I didn't see Bad Boys and I Am Legend. I really should get on Six Degrees of Separation, though.

And I'd also like this to be done for Whoopi at some point too-she's a great actress, and though she's now headlining my daytime TV obsession (we all need our guilty pleasures, and that and old Vincent Price movies are mine), I wish she'd try for another Color Purple/Ghost again.

Terence said...

I love Will Smith (I've seen 16 of those movies 0_0) and I truly believe that he is one of the few movie stars that we have. How esle can you explain those string of 7 or 8 films that made $200 million? The man can carry a film.

As far as his Oscar nominations, I think they were both deserved and he might have won but each year he went up against tour de force performances (Denzel in Training Day and Forrest Whitaker in Last King of Scotland).

He will eventually get an Oscar but I think it will be for something edgy...problem is he hasn't picked a project like that. Seven Pounds could have been that but the non-linear story threw ppl off

Scott said...

Only seen 5 or 6 (nothing since I, Robot) because I don't like him at all. He can be a perfectly serviceable actor at times, but he often seems to movies what Two and a Half Men is to television.

Deborah said...

I've seen 7 of these. I like him; he has an ease and charm that I enjoy. I think he did dramatic well in Six Degrees, although Ali didn't work for me AT ALL.

Philip said...

Oh my gosh! I'm with /3rtfu11! Please, please, please do something on Whoopi! I'm practically in love with that woman.

Philip said...

Oh, and as far as Will goes, I was pretty much neutral, until I read things in these comments such as his Six Degrees drama, or him comparing his sons acting to Johnny Depp/him forcing his children on everyone, and I realized he is pretty damn annoying.

Daniel Armour said...

I've seen Twelve of those and they range from very entertaining (Independence Day) to outright terrible (Wild Wild West) but The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is still my favorite thing he's ever done. As an actor, he's decent but has yet to be exceptional.

The best thing I can say about him is that he at least tries to switch between comedy and action, which is something Denzel Washington really needs to do because those thrillers are getting stale and so are his performances. I'm not saying he should make Dude, Where's My Car Returns or Soul Plane Reloaded but there's only so many times you can play a cop... or a gangster... or someone on the run.

vatz said...

I've seen six of these films, including the last two (which were horrific). Will Smith is a deucebag. I loved Six Degrees despite him. Damon Wayans would have done better.

Iggy said...

I find him watchable if I catch one of his action movies on TV, but it's been a long time since a paid a ticket to see one of his movies. There was a time Jada Pinkett seemed to be more interesting than him and that she could've overshadowed him, but probably it was just my impression. Now, the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Will Smith is him running away from an explosion in slo-mo and in a sweaty T-shirt. I think he's in his way to earn a place in the list of actors that don't care about movies they did at cinemablend.com.

If I'd resent him for something, it wouldn't be the nepotism. I think kids have to live normal lives and stay away from show business, no matter who their parents are. It would be that he, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman are pretty much what Hollywood shows us about African-American actors around here. Which is particulary noticeable when you see performances like Viola Davis' last year and you wonder where has that woman been hidden all this time.

Anonymous said...

/3rtfu11 said...

Btw the Made in America poster reminded me you haven’t written a piece on Whoopi. She is hands down the most successful black woman in Hollywood history.
...
How depressing.That a one note actress would be the most successful.
Re Will Smith. I like his films. I don't like the person. He seems like such a fake. Just like Tom Cruise.

The Film Junkie said...

1. I'm so down with post on Whoopi!! and 2. Wow! I've never met anyone who disliked Jada! Color me surprised.

Peggy Sue said...

Oops, I've only seen 9!!! All of them in DVD except "Six Degrees of Separation" which I love (with kiss or not). I think he's a good actor although in "Seven Pounds" he confused grief with being constipated.

I guess his Oscar noms were both OK, altough I must say I was bored to death with "Ali" and horrified with Jon Voight's make-up.

Getting a bit tired of his Mr. Nice persona. Give him a villain!

PS He's huge in Spain

NATHANIEL R said...

peggy sue -- yea i thought he was big overseas too. agreed that he should mix it up a bit. sometimes a villain role for an endless hero type can be just the ticket for renewed attention and creative spark.

Anonymous said...

Wow a positive Black family in the spotlight and people on this site hate them. No surprise there.lol.