Bill Simmons’ latest piece on Grantland looks at Ryan Reynolds, Will Smith and the state of the “movie star” in Hollywood. For the most part, I liked it. He brings up some good points about the state of the movie star and what that means in terms of good actors making actual, good movies. I can get behind that.
However, while Simmons wants to bash the statistics crowd, he also wants to quantify abstract concepts like humor and music. In it, he gives you his list of 24 movie stars with absolutely no parameters.
Smith and Leo; Depp and Cruise; Clooney, Damon and Pitt; Downey and Bale; Hanks and Denzel; Stiller and Sandler; Crowe and Bridges; Carell, Rogen, Ferrell and Galafianakis; Wahlberg and Affleck; Gyllenhall (it kills me to put him on here, but there’s just no way to avoid it); Justin Timberlake (who became a movie star simply by being so famous that he brainwashed us); and amazingly, Kevin James.
Amazing is a really good word choice at that point because it is amazing that anyone would put Kevin James on that list of actors. Simmons argument for Kevin James is that he was… No. I’m not going to paraphrase. It wouldn’t do it justice.
I took my daughter to see Super 8 last week … they showed a preview for The Zoo Keeper and she laughed her ass off for three minutes, then said, “I want to see that one!” That’s when the Kevin James Era finally made sense for me
Bill Simmons daughter is 6 years old. His 6 year old daughter laughed at a video full of talking animals. Therefor, Kevin James, who stars alongside the talking animals, is a big star. Shit. He even has an ERA. Why Kevin James is downright Jurassic!
Just because a child laughs at something stupid doesn’t mean anything except that kids laugh at stupid things. Basically, what Simmons says here is that if Ryan Reynolds made a shitty talking-animal film, he would be a movie star.
[Footnote! I could also nitpick about the inclusion of Zach Galifianakis and Justin Timberlake. What has Galifianakis headlined? G-Force? It's Kind of a Funny Story? And that's not a knock on him. I find everything he does funny and enjoy his roles. As for Timberlake - one of the two best SNL hosts going along with Alec Baldwin. I am a huge Timberlake fan. Social Network, Alpha Dog, Bad Teacher... he wasn't the star of any of them. You want to put him on the list to make an even 24 because he voiced Boo Boo? Whatever bro.]
There is no set number of movie stars. The entertainment industry is not like the sporting world where there are a certain number of jobs available. Each film does not have a specific number of roster spots that must be filled.
I don’t want to get into the stupid claims of sexism and the misogynous attitude at Grantland because I think that’s mostly bullshit. It’s a sports website. It’s mostly going to be men talking about men playing sports. You’re going to see a lot more “he” and “him” than “she” and “her.” If you’re writing about Game 6 of the NBA Finals, you’re not going to find much reason to mention a woman seeing as how twenty or so men and no women were involved in the game. You’re telling me masculine pronouns are really big on the word cloud? No shit.
However, to plainly say “movie star” and try to shoehorn Paul fucking Blart into your argument before even mentioning Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Ann Hathaway or Natalie Portman? You’ve got to be shitting me.
Simmons at least mentions Jeremy Renner, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Jesse Eisenberg and Paul Rudd. Of course, that’s to point out that they are not movie stars. For fun, here are some of the notable people that Simmons doesn’t consider movie stars:
Clive Owen, Jamie Foxx, Collin Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Daniel Craig, Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn, Ed Norton, Orlando Bloom, Liam Neison, Sean Penn, Hugh Jackman, Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Ricky Gervais, Adrien Brody, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, and Joaquin Phoenix.
It took me about 10 minutes of looking through my movie collection and browsing a couple lists on IMDB to come up with those names. I’m not going to pretend that is a definitive list. Feel free to point out anyone I’ve missed. I won’t even mention guys like The Rock, Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Robert Pattinson, Shia LaBeouf and Zac Efron. Even though if someone asked if they were movie stars you would say, “Yes,” in a second. I mean, what else are they? Actors?
I would think that the simplest definition of “movie star” would be “a person who stars in movies.” I’m fairly certain everyone mentioned in this post is “a person who stars in movies.”
Sure, there are varying degrees of movie stardom. I’m not arguing that Zac Efron is on the same level as George Clooney. I’m saying its stupid to try and count the number of movie stars based on which ones make a six-year-old giggle. Other than that, it was a solid print ‘n poo.