Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An open letter to Jason Segel

Mr. Segel,
My wife and I are fans of you as an actor. We liked you in Freaks and Geeks. We enjoy you on How I Met Your Mother. We thought you were charming  in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and appreciated the different sort of character you played in I Love You, Man. We are looking forward to your upcoming Muppets feature film and likely will go see it opening weekend. In short, we are on the Segel bandwagon.

For that reason, I must ask that you please exert some discretion in the roles you accept to play. I think we deserve that.

Over the weekend we watched Bad Teacher on DVD. It didn't look good from the ads, nor did it get good reviews. The primary reason we rented it was because you were in it—because, as I just noted, we are fans of you.

And despite your inclusion in the film, that was pretty much a waste of an hour and a half.
Yeah, we found it as interesting as you did.
I'm not saying it was your fault that the script was such crap and utterly lacking in anything other than a hackneyed plot and jokes (the sort one would expect in a direct-to-video release like American Pie 17). I'm not saying you weren't given a mediocre character with limited screen time, because you were. I'm not saying that had you tried harder that it would have salvaged the movie; there is nothing you could have done to put a shine on that turd. I'm not saying that I'm pleased you seemed to be phoning it in, but I can't say that I blame you once you were on set.

However, based on what I saw I was struck by the impression you knew it was not going to be good. You grasped going in what you were dealing with and, once you'd signed the contract and gotten the paycheck, dealt with it in what would be an appropriate manner. But you should never have signed on to be involved with that crap.

I'm not saying it wasn't below merely you; the entire cast was filled with talented actors (and with Cameron Diaz as well) who were wasted. Young Mr. Timberlake, who has proven himself very funny on his SNL hosting duties, is still new enough to acting that he must take what he can. John Michael Higgins cannot wait around for Christopher Guest projects forever. Lucy Punch is no household name. Phyllis Smith has only The Office. Thomas Lennon can't live off Reno: 911 royalties. (Eric Stonestreet must have done this before his Emmy for Modern Family.) I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I'm not suggesting you're up there in the George Clooney/Angelina Jolie realm, and frankly I hope you never get there. Your down-to-earth personality is your strength, and please never lose that. We don't want you to get full of yourself, but we do want to be clear that there is a happy middle ground between that and just taking anything offered. You've had hit movies. You have a TV show in syndication. You don't seem like the sort whose blowing his money on hookers and blow. You don't need the money that badly, do you?

Perhaps the first version of the script was funnier, and rewrites ruined it. I doubt that, but I'll concede I didn't see what you saw when you agreed to take the role, and will allow for the possibility it seemed like it would be better.

But it wasn't.

What's done is done. All actors have some clunkers in their body of work, and Bad Teacher will be one of yours. It may not be the last one. That's okay. We're still fans. But in the future, please do try to be more discerning in what you agree to do. You can write your own scripts, as we've seen. If something must suck, at least let it be yours. We'll still be with you if you try and fail, but if you take these lousy roles in others' crap you'll only be pushing us slowly off the Segel bandwagon.

Nobody wants that.

We believe you have a bright future. Don't let that go to your head completely, but do let it go to your head enough that you don't just do something for a paycheck. You don't need to have hardcore integrity, but you do need to use your brain before you sign the contract. That's all.

Keep up the good work.

Yours sincerely (no, really),
Doug and Doug's wife

1 comment:

  1. How nice of you to care about a Hollywood actor! (When most of them just need to be squeezed into the Soylent Green press.) I'm always disappointed when I see a movie just because a favorite actor is in it, because the movie usually sucks and they can't save it. It's even more depressing, as you pointed out, when it's obvious they just signed on for a paycheck, and didn't care if the movie sucked.


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