Once again, it's a weekend battle of head-to-head stars. In this corner, we have teen movie king turned romantic comedy god turned fringe character actor John Cusack. And in this corner we have long time character comedian turned comedy star Steve Carell. Who will dominate the box office and who will win your heart? Let's drop the cage. Two men enter! One man leaves!
In the box office this weekend: Winner = Carell. Well, it doesn't take Nostradamus to figure out this one. One movie is the sequel to a $200+ million comedy and stars the guy considered by many to be one of the funniest men in America, while the other is a horror film released in the summer (after we've seen two highly anticipated horror films flop.) Expect Evan Almighty to clean up this weekend.
In the critical arena: Winner = Cusack. Middle American press and the morning show critics are going to love Evan Almighty and it's rated-PG heartland values. This comedy is gonna clean up with mainstream press, but is going to face a fierce and vicious backlash from the press that have more liberal-minded values or simply have a disdain for films targeted at the average filmgoer. Cusack, on the other hand, stars in what is easily the most frightening film since The Ring and will play well to critics across the board.
In their careers: Winner = Cusack. I see the potential for Carell to be a big comedy star, as in a Will Farrell or a Jim Carrey. But these kinds of comedy actors don't often sustain these types of careers for a very long time. And I'm not convinced Carell is going to go the distance. Cusack, however, has constantly redefined himself and gracefully graduated from stage to stage in his career. He's been fairly smart about his choices and made various attempts to play off-kilter characters, ensuring a fan base among the critics and tastemakers. If I had to bet, I'd bet we'll still be talking about Cusack ten years from now rather than Carell.
In a fight over the same girl in a romantic comedy: Winner = Cusack. Trying to figure out who would win in a pugilistic battle of blows between two guys who play nerds for a living is kind of futile. But in a fight over a girl in their bread and butter movies? Cusack. Cusack's got mad skills. Whether wooing Demi Moore in One Crazy Summer or Diane Lane in Must Love Dogs, or hell, both Catherine Zeta Jones and Julia Roberts in American's Sweethearts, the guy has tackled the giants. Carell could learn a thing or two or twelve from Cusack.
Winner = Cusack. He wins the heart of critics and ladies alike. He's been around over 20 years. And he ain't going anywhere soon. Carell may win the weekend, but Cusack wins the war.
C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me
Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVDs five times a week.