What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is God real and if He is why doesn’t He stop Samuel L. Jackson from making so many lousy movies?
When Samuel Leroy Jackson grabbed the world by the short and curlies in a riveting, scene-stealing performance as the doomed addict, Gator in director Spike Lee’s 1991 Jungle Fever, he had just completed drug rehabilitation two weeks earlier. He played a manipulative, charaming but borderline unhinged junkie so well because he wasn’t totally playing.
That Sam Jackson is history. The guy who has become the Baddest MoFo in Hollywood is blessed with an abundance of talent, a long list of great performances and hands down the busiest man in movies today. This year Jackson appeared in no less than six films of varying quality: The Spirit, Soul Men, Lakeview Terrace, Star War: The Clone Wars, Jumper and a cameo in Iron Man.
No grass is going to grow under Jackson’s feet in 2009. He already has four films in various stages of production which is staying constant to his history of making no less than three or more movies a year.
The mystery is why does such an accomplished actor choose to appear in movies so far beneath his talents. Marlon Brando waited until he got fat to churn out crud in exchange for a fat paycheck. Jackson was 46 years old in 1994 when he burned up the screen as the philosophical assassin, Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. The brother waited a long time for his breakthrough part.
My wife, who is not a psychologist or a drug counselor, believes Jackson makes so many movies because staying busy serves as therapy. I don’t have a explanation better than that (besides the millions of dollars he makes for dressing up like a Nazi drag queen in The Spirit).
The thing is when you’re as prolific as Jackson it doesn’t mean you’re discriminating too. You have to wonder did he read the scripts for The Man, Amos and Andrew, Snakes on A Plane, Deep Blue Sea, The Return of Superfly, xXx: State of the Union and the straight-to-DVD, Cleaner?
Now with The Spirit, Jackson joins Hackman and Caine in career crippling celluloid crapfests like Loose Cannons and Jaws: The Revenge.
The reviews for The Spirit are the kind that guarantees the film a place on “Ten Worst” lists and Jackson’s performance (or lack of one) is taking a lot of the incoming fire:
Samuel L. Jackson embarrasses himself and everyone in the audience as the Octopus, portrayed here as a flamboyant windbag who spouts endless unfunny non sequiturs and parades around in dopey costumes. “Snakes on a Plane” notwithstanding, this is surely the worst performance of Jackson’s life, consisting of nothing but out-of-control scenery chewing. ~ Tulsa World
Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson plays the Octopus, a really cool villain from the Spirit comic. In the strip, readers never see more than his gloves, making him a mysterious and scary guy. In the movie, he’s simply Samuel L. Jackson. You know, the “Snakes on a Plane”/ “Lakeview Terrace”/And-you-will-know-my-name-is-the-Lord-when-I-lay-my-vengeance-upon-thee persona that is quickly becoming a joke. It’s time to rent “Jungle Fever” again to remember why we used to like this guy. ~ San Francisco Chronicle
Jackson chews the scenery mercilessly, belting out his lines with lip-smacking gusto while flashing a smile that wouldn’t be out of place, if you’ll excuse the expression, in a minstrel show. (A sequence in which he dons a Nazi uniform to threaten the captured Spirit is, even in this context, a low point.) Octopus offs an underlying who’s failed him at one point by saying that he refuses to have “egg on his face.” In that Jackson definitely fails. ~ One Guy’s Opinion
My personal favorite was one from Spill.com where the reviewer called The Spirit “asstastic” and a “fecal waterslide.”
I get the hint. The Spirit stinks and one of the things about it that stinks the most is Jackson overacting like nobody’s business.
Jackson once was quoted as saying, “A movie is just a movie to me. They open. They close.”
Got that right, playa. With the exception of Iron Man, Jackson hasn’t been in a movie in 2008 that lasted longer than a fart in a tornado.
Have you ever wondered how bad a script has to be for Sam Jackson to say “no” to?
Here’s a way to make a easy five dollars. Bet a friend who has cable TV and premium movie channels that if they surf the evening listings of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime or Encore they won’t find at least one flick with Jackson in it.
The man has made close to 90 movies since 1972 with 59 of them coming since Pulp Fiction. There’s a difference between being prolific and not particularly choosy what you do as long as the check clears. Jackson is still one of the ten best actors in the business, but he has turned out more than enough crap that if someone else wanted to drop him from that standing, I’d have a hard time arguing against it.
Maybe he needs to take a vacation. A long one. Maybe two. It might not be a bad idea to let audiences ask, “When is the next Samuel L. Jackson movie coming out?” instead of “Oh Lawd, not him again.”