Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Can we put Jeff Goldblum back in blockbuster movies?


If someone were to ask you what you think of when asked about 90s blockbusters what would you say?

I'd have to give a number of replies to answer that, ranging from bullet time to that ginger kid with the mullet in Terminator 2 but someone who would definitely appear on the list is Jeff Goldblum. For some reason I think of him before I think of Schwarzenegger and Willis.

However, upon researching this article, it was to my great surprise that I discovered that the image I had of Jeff Goldblum cropping up in just about every big budget movie of the decade was actually a slight mental exaggeration. This was probably due to the fact that the last two 90's blockbusters I re-watched were Independence Day and Jurassic Park. But to my even greater surprise, Jeff doesn't even do very much in Jurassic Park. I admit it had been a few years since my last viewing, but I seemed to remember him doing more than sitting around injured and arguing with Richard Attenborough. It had got to the point where my brain had created its own improved version of Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum was knocking out velociraptors with a strong right hook and the children weren't in the film at all. In reality the guy from 3rd Rock From the Sun probably had a more important role than Jeff.

So it says a lot of Goldblum leaving his mark on the few big films he appeared in to make me think of him as synonymous with big 90's movies. Those years, however, seem long gone and Jeff has moved on to TV and theater work and the odd movie here and there, which is fine, but I don't think I've watched a film with him in since 2004's Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Which is too long, frankly.

It seems in the noughties blockbuster age, Jeff Goldblum's dryly delivered and stuttering brand of irony has been replaced by Shia LeBeouf's yelping and just plain annoying brand of irony. It's to be expected of course; I'm not suggesting a 56 year old Goldblum should replace LeBeouf, but there seems to be a shortage of fun actors around at the moment. I don't mean comic actors necessarily in this respect, but talented actors that can bring their own brand of personality and humour to a role; a certain uniqueness that makes them stand out from the crowd. Robert Downey Jr. is the best example of this kind of actor around at the moment and much of the success of Iron Man was down to his natural, irreverent charisma. It helped make Iron Man a movie that was focused on being fun, which in the post-Lord of the Rings age where blockbusters are falling over themselves to be "darker" than the last is actually a far rarer thing than it was in the 90's.

In his best performances, Goldblum had a very similar tone to Downey Jr; he may not be his equal but he could certainly be entertaining enough to stand out. Spielberg saw it when he gave him the lead in The Lost World; Jurassic Park was well cast, but audiences seemed to connect well with his character. It was perhaps surprising in itself that he was in such films; he never looked like an action hero, and his quirky style seems more suited to offbeat drama. As long as he's still in movies, I'd love to see him crop up in some decent films of any genre, but it would truly be great so see him once more utter the lines "must go faster" as he flees from the dinosaur/alien/giant robot/army that happens to be chasing him.

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