(Left) Then & Now: Wahlberg in the infamous CK campaign in 1991. Wahlberg yesterday in Missouri.
In my weekly column at Towleroad, I barely mentioned what will likely be the big box office draw this weekend, the Mark Wahlberg/ Will Ferrell comedy The Other Guys. I note this because I was moved to discuss National Underwear Day in the same article and what modern star used underwear so successfully to boost their initial fame? Why did I ignore him so? The Other Guys poster implies that you'll be seeing a kind of self-aware satire of a buddy cop comedy. You know... the kind Edgar Wright already delivered memorably with Hot Fuzz (2007). Could these two American hams really top that Brit wit? I'm doubtful... but perhaps they're not trying. I haven't seen it. Maybe the poster is misleading.
Let's look at Wahlberg's career as told to us through movie posters. Is there another star as popular that people still regularly complain can't act?
I missed one film in that line up, an indie called Traveller (1997) but the posters have to be divisible by 3. How many of his 25 have you seen?
Does your answer make you proud, ashamed or dumbfounded? Regarding the latter, do you even remember the films? Should you glance across the posters a pattern emerges. Wahlberg alternates seemingly interchangeable gun-wielding crime dramas with A list auteur-driven ensemble films. (The latter category seems like a 50/50 mix of "instant classic" and "notorious misfire".) The overlap between his two preferred types seems to be the James Gray movies, which are both crime dramas AND auteurish ensemble films. I'd never seen a James Gray film prior to Two Lovers (09, quite good) and, though some smart critics swear by him, from the outside in both plot synopsis and marketing his movies look EXACTLY like generic crime drama programmers, don't they?
Will the upcoming Fighter jack up the modern classics section of his filmography by one? The star seems to think so. I've had a good feeling about it even prior to his biased 'good vibrations' about it. I've been predicting it for the Oscars since April. That was entirely due to its status as a true story and boxing drama, since Oscar loves both. That was not due to it being a reunion of director David O. Russell and Wahlberg, despite their previous and quite awesome collaborations (see: Three Kings and i ♥ huckabees. No, really, see them if you haven't. They're fantastic).
But I'm thinking too hard over this. Let's simplify. Can Mr. Wahlberg act or not -- answer that eternal question, would ya?