Jennifer Aniston – an actor seen frequently doing great work in poor films, sometimes excellent work in good films, and occasionally, amazing work in excellent films. How are we to know this prolific and skilled artist’s full range? We’ll just have to watch all of her films. After a hiatus, Aniston of the Week is back, and this time, it’s We’re the Millers.
FILM: We’re the Millers DIRECTOR: Rawson Marshall Thurber YEAR: 2013 SCREENWRITERS: Bob Fisher, Steve Faber, Sean Anders, and John Morris CHARACTER NAME AND PROFESSION: ‘Rose’ aka Sarah, stripper.
PLOT SUMMARY: Rose works as a stripper and lives in the same building as weed dealer David (Jason Sudeikis). He has all his money stolen when his other neighbour, Kenny (Will Poulter) chases off some thugs from Casey (Emma Roberts) and David attempts to help. Now owing his supplier Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) money, he agrees to go to Mexico to smuggle back an enormous amount of weed, and persuades Rose, Casey and Kenny to come with him, posing as a family in order to avoid suspicion. Rose only agrees to accompany David on the trip because the club she works as starts insisting the strippers also prostitute themselves, and she demands $30,000 from David. They get into Mexico easily, but have ever-elaborate ways of avoiding suspicion when they meet the Fitzgerald family – Edie and Don (Kathryn Hahn and Nick Offerman) – the latter turning out to be a DEA agent. CHARACTER TRAITS: Caustic, intelligent, resourceful, witty, compassionate, creative. NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston convinces as a disgruntled stripper, one who has no enthusiasm left for her job and therefore gives a low-energy performance, and her grumpy, quick-witted persona works well in scenes riffing off the smug Sudeikis. It therefore doesn’t convince at all when she suddenly offers to strip to appease the real criminals who are threatening their lives. A to-camera shrug from Sudeikis simply confirms this is just an excuse to objectify Aniston and that makes the scene ultimately really sad. NOTES ON FILM: Well, it’s total trash. Produced and written by a band of talentless men, this shows on screen. Broad strokes, an excruciatingly lame plot, total lack of humour, stereotypes instead of characters, and infuriatingly, I actually watched the extended cut by mistake – why anyone would want two whole hours of this film on purpose is baffling to me. Real low point. CONCLUSION: It has come to my attention that there’s a We’re the Millers 2 in the pipeline. Save us all.
Jennifer Aniston – an actor seen frequently doing great work in poor films, sometimes excellent work in good films, and occasionally, amazing work in excellent films. How are we to know this prolific and skilled artist’s full range? We’ll just have to watch all of her films. After a hiatus, Aniston of the Week is back, and this time, it’s Mothers Day.
FILM: Mother’s Day DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall YEAR: 2016 SCREENWRITERS: Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker, Tom Hines CHARACTER NAME AND PROFESSION: Sandy, Interior Designer. PLOT SUMMARY: Sandy is divorced from her husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant) with whom she amicably splits custody of her two sons. Sandy thinks there might still be a spark between them, but is surprised when Henry wants to talk and rather than expressing a desire to start again, he announces he has married a much younger woman called Tina (Shay Mitchell). Meanwhile, other characters such as Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke) have secrets about their relationships that they’re keeping from their parents. Plus Kristin (Britt Robertson) won’t marry her boyfriend Zack (Jack Whitehall) because she’s adopted and doesn’t know her birth mother, and of course they all actually know each other or meet each other in the course of the film. Oh and Jason Sudeikis plays a man called Bradley whose wife died and he’s trying to raise two daughters. CHARACTER TRAITS: Patient, kind, funny, anxious, frustrated.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: The usual poise, handling of pratfalls with ease and a familiar gently flustered frustration or being comically irate, or sweet and self-deprecating and making it all look easy, almost as if she doesn’t have to try. Aniston isn’t exactly being tested by the script though, which is very basic, moving through plot points as if it’s in a rush. NOTES ON FILM: Well, it’s brilliant to see Aniston being a bit of goofball, expressing natural female rage and vulnerability, but the film is utter nonsense and frankly, racist in places. Kate Hudson’s husband Russell (Aasif Mandvi) is Indian, and her parents don’t know she married him because they’re racist, so how does the film deal with this? They make Russell’s Mum racist too, of course, so that’s all right then and we can all just get along and not really confront prejudice. Apparently the cast mainly signed on to do the film just for the chance to work with Garry Marshall (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Pretty Woman) so they probably didn’t even see a script. CONCLUSION: It looks as if Aniston liked this role for the opportunity to show vulnerability and anxiety, and issues of aging, and perhaps didn’t think about how the rest of the film is rubbish. An edit of just her scenes would be great, thanks.
FILM: Love Happens DIRECTOR: Brandon Camp YEAR: 2009 CHARACTER NAME AND PROFESSION: Eloise, Florist PLOT SUMMARY: Eloise meets self-help guru/grief expert/boring white male Burke (Aaron Eckhart) when he flirts with her at the hotel he’s staying/leading a seminar at, while she’s delivering flowers. Burke’s wife died three years ago, and his grief coping strategies have turned into a career, helping others, but guess what? Maybe he didn’t deal with his wife’s death after all… Eloise has had a series of relationships with emotionally unavailable men, so she’s y’know, not really interested in Burke’s problems, but this is a movie so somehow she helps him anyway. CHARACTER TRAITS: Kind, ‘kooky’ (we can tell she’s kooky because she wears a scarf similar to her costume in Along Came Polly and she likes to secretly write unusual words on walls), generous, thoughtful, confident.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston tries her best with wooden Eckhart, she’s charming and energetic and lovely, but even her efforts can’t convince us they have any chemistry. NOTES ON FILM: This is an Aniston version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl role, where she ‘saves’ Eckhart’s repressed ‘good guy’ from the bland, safe life he’s living, and opens him up to new, authentic experiences (beat poetry, shisha pipes, bubble gum, Brandon Lee’s grave, naturally). He even Mansplains away her giving him the brush off when they first meet – it’s not that she’s genuinely not interested in him – she rejects him because she’s beautiful and she can (thanks, Burke!). The title is also totally erroneous – Burke and Eloise’s coupling is more like Lukewarm Tolerance Happens. CONCLUSION: Aniston wishes she was somewhere else, and so do we.