Monday, May 14, 2007

Favorite Actor Monday

Apples and oranges, yes, even though I'm talking about brothers working the same profession, but cut me a little slack and let me say that Chris Penn was a better actor than Sean Penn. He wasn't as famous, didn't get as many leading roles, had to do some truly shitty movies, and was playing mostly bit parts at the time of his death, but at his best, Chris Penn made his older brother look like a schoolboy getting depantsed (or pantsed, depending on where you're from). Chris may have been felled by an appetite for booze, drugs, and mass quantities of food, but Sean has been killed by his own ponderous humorlessness. Sean Penn tries too hard and is way too serious about it. He's as far away from his own performance as Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" as former president Dwight Eisenhower is from the nearest Burger King. Chris Penn was a fucking force of nature, scary and funny and natural and sad. Don't get me wrong. Sean Penn has turned in some incredible performances and directed some flawed but interesting films (particularly "The Indian Runner" and "The Pledge"). But he's no Chris Penn. Imagine Chris in "Mystic River" instead of Sean, and imagine a much better film. Raise your glasses and toast the forgotten Penn, our Favorite Actor of this Monday.

Recommended (a few of these movies are atrocious, but there's something happening when Chris Penn is on screen):
Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola, 1983)
Footloose (Herbert Ross, 1984) (atrocioulicious)
At Close Range (James Foley, 1986)
Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
Best of the Best 2 (Robert Radler, 1993) (I dare you to rent this movie)
Short Cuts (Robert Altman, 1993)
True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993)
Mulholland Falls (Lee Tamahori, 1996) (atrocious)
The Funeral (Abel Ferrara, 1996)
Masked and Anonymous (Larry Charles, 2003)
a couple of TV performances I caught on late-night reruns of particularly awful material actually being transformed to something more than watchable by Chris Penn's performance:
"Grave Young Men" episode of CSI:Miami (2003)
"Fanilow" episode of Will & Grace (2003)

I'd like to see Sean Penn be taught how to dance by Kevin Bacon in a musical montage and totally commit to it without worrying about looking ridiculous:

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