Where Did Dustin Hoffman Go?

Does anyone know where I can find Dustin Hoffman? No, not that guy that looks like an old Dustin Hoffman who everyone calls Dustin Hoffman. I'm looking for Dustin Hoffman. You know, the guy from Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, Rain Man, Marathon Man, Straw Dogs, Kramer vs. Kramer. That guy was the reigning king of playing nouns. Here's a sampling of his recent work.

Meet The Fockers: I don't think much needs to be said about this one. The first was a big hit and a low rung comedy that even the harshest critics had to shrug and say, "You know what, it worked." The second isn't so well-loved. Hoffman plays the hippie father of Ben Stiller and, hand to heaven, actually uttered the phrase, "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down." By that rationale this comedy should have been flushed.

I Heart Huckabees: This goofball indie-style comedy was a little too esoteric for some, hell most, folks out there, but it has its following. Hoffman plays opposite Lily Tomlin as a pair of existential investigators who are hired to figure out Jason Schwartzman's problems with his life. Most movies that deal with the word existentialism rarely actually understand it, but this was clearly written by someone who studied or even majored philosophy in college. Sadly, you pretty much had to study it as well to fully get everything the film was doing.

Perfume: Story of a Murderer: It's an unbelievable movie adapted from a novel that was referred to by genius directors as unadaptable. Until someone got it right. WAY right. But as dark, brooding and unsavory as it is, Hoffman still managed to secure the one comedic role in it, playing a goofy, aging perfumer who takes in the film's protagonist/villain and teaches him the fine art of making perfume. The second best film he's been in in this decade.

Stranger than Fiction: Another comedy, this time written by the writer/director of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. And if Perfume is the second best thing he's been in a decade, this is the first. Sadly neglected last year, this is the really funny, sweet, smart Will Farrell comedy. Hoffman plays a professor trying to help a man plagued by the interior narration of the woman writing his life story, and with the hopes of figuring out a way to get out of her book. This is one you should rent immediately if you haven't already. But Hoffman still gets goofy.

So Dustin, what's up? Is this the new you, smirking and mugging for the camera? Maybe it's just more fun? It does work some of the time, and there do seem to be plenty of roles of that nature, but we'll still remember your films of old that garnered you a reputation as one of our greatest living actors.

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me