I sat wondering if I could write about a supporting actress from 2008 for quite awhile. I will admit that I have not seen too many movies this year. But here is my contribution to StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Blogathon
I thought Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Viola Davis in Doubt were both incredibly powerful, transforming the stories such that the characters were never the same once they showed up onscreen; I was stunned at the depth Olga Kurylenko gave to the latest Bond girl, Camille, in Quantum of Solace, even suggesting that a Bond girl could have a life beyond her relationship with James Bond; I was decidedly underwhelmed by Amy Adams in Doubt and Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight, two actresses I look forward to seeing on the screen; and I was touched by Hiam Abbas as Mouna in The Visitor - she managed to show a complete character in her brief screentime, while tantalizing us with an unknown world - the kind of character you wish you could get to know in real life.*
Yet, when I think of the idea of ‘actressing at the edges,’ (Stinkylulu’s idea, not mine) I think of not necessarily the most powerful performance, or my favorite character, but of an actress who lends the few moments of comedy and warmth to a grim, bleak movie that should have never been released.
That actress, the one that makes you laugh in a movie that competes for the crappiest movie I have ever seen, is Judy Greer in 27 Dresses.
This performance is in a real craptastic pile of shit of a movie. Judy Greer is the tasty pickle on the side of the crap sandwich. Yet, Greer charms in every scene, making you wish that the crappy rom-com had been made about her character, or at least that someone had had the foresight to put her in any scene other than those demanded by the plot.
The movie is about a career woman, Jane, who is 27 times the bridesmaid, never the bride, because she is in love with her boss - a neurotic played by Katherine Heigl.
Casey (Greer) is a co-worker, Jane’s best friend (? - the movie isn’t even clear on this relationship) who helps Jane with particular tasks, but also tells Jane that she is full of crap, in love with the boring boss who will never love her, needs to move on with her life, etc. - and these are all rote scenes for a romantic comedy. Somehow, Greer makes these scenes funny and fresh, while suggesting weariness and fatigue. She accepts Jane’s love for the boring boss even while she doesn’t understand it, or approve of it.
In one scene that could have been painfully unfunny, Greer swears her way through a yoga class, mad at the actions of various men in Jane’s life but still perplexed at Jane’s choices. Swearing through a yoga class sounds like the sort of easy target that would make me groan more than laugh in a comedy, but Greer nails it. Later, in one of the movie’s supposedly pivotal scenes, she covers for Jane’s poor judgment, and then tells Jane that, while she (Casey) may have a skewed moral compass, what Jane did was pretty fucked up. This scene is, like the rest of the movie, badly written, but Greer seems appropriately bewildered and sincere in her only dramatic scene.
Greer may be best know as Kitty, George Sr.’s secretary on Arrested Development (’say goodbye to these!’), but I doubt many fans would recognize her in other roles - I found myself struggling to place her distinctive voice throughout most of the movie. I don’t think she should be winning awards for this performance, but I do wish she could be in better movies and better roles - and someone should laud the actresses who provide a few moments of entertainment during an entertainment- and fun-less movie.
*I have not yet seen Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler, Rosemarie DeWitt and Debra Winger in Rachel Getting Married, Catinca Untaru in The Fall or any of the talented women in Synecdoche, New York.