My September 10th blog post is SNL Stars Go Dramatic. I was very moved and touched by the dramatic outing of Saturday Night Live graduates Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in the new film, The Skeleton Twins. Another SNL grad got to show her dramatic chops and she was also quite effective. Just like Kristen Wiig in The Skeleton Twins, Tina Fey plays an adult sibling in the new film, This Is Where I Leave You. This is more of an outright comedy than The Skeleton Twins but it also has heartache and some poignant dramatic moments. Tina Fey gives us one of the those moments. What a good actress.
I saw this movie with my Sirius OutQ Radio host/buddy, Keith Price. I agree with something he said when we left the screening. Inside each barrage of snarky comments or loopy incident, there was a serious verbal or physical show of true affection. Snark alone gets tiresome, as you know if you have someone who is constantly snarky on Twitter or Facebook. It's like the blind date that can't end soon enough so you can be with someone real and mature. Someone who's not trying to be funny with every single statement. The sister and brothers really do love each other, although they may not always say so. They love their mother and she loves them. That week of shiva, their late father's last wish, will bring about revelations, unexpected bonding and happiness.
We care about how he'll pick up the pieces of his life when his marriage shatters.
This is the second time this year Jason Bateman has impressed me with his acting depth. Earlier this year, I went to see him in Bad Words. The trailer made it seem...well, too inappropriate for words. I expected to hate it. I wound up loving up. Bateman starred in and directed a smart, rude and wise comedy about the power of words and how we choose to use them. He tells his story with a grown man (played by Bateman) legally entering a national spelling bee competition. He seems bent on entering the competition for some sort of revenge. A little brainiac is a top opponent who winds becoming his unlikely buddy. Bateman's character was like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Jack Nicholson's novelist character in As Good As It Gets. He's verbally rude to the world because there's some pain, some heartache, that he wants to keep hidden. Karma will make him pay a price for his rudeness. And the little braniac will learn a lesson in parenthood and friendship. These are two flawed and wounded sons.
Bateman didn't direct This Is Where I Leave You but, again, he displays some fine tenderness and depth as an actor which keeps this family story from seeming like a special episode of his Arrested Development sitcom. Here, Bateman is Judd Altman. Tina Fey plays Judd's sister, Wendy. It's a close brother and sister bond, like the one in need of repair in The Skeleton Twins. Wendy and Judd have a heart-to-heart talk on a rooftop that really got me. I didn't expect to see Tiny Fey go dramatic. But, when you think about it, she played and wrote the flip side of disappointment and heartache so brilliantly on the sitcom, 30 Rock. All that comedy came from high drama in someone's life. Tina Fey's dramatic skills are as fine as her comedy skills.
I've written before that I'm always fascinated when a performer we associate with comedy flips the script, challenges him or herself and does good dramatic work. I loved that rooftop scene Tina Fey did. She was so emotionally naked and true to her character. Very believable. A beautiful scene. Fey also delivers one of the film's biggest laughs.
Think about it.