Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Whatever happened to Jack Black?

The comic-actor's career promised much in 2005. How has it got to low level it's at today?

With apes ruling at the cinema at present, my mind turned to one of my favourite films of the last decade: the Peter Jackson remake of King Kong. Now, many will say that it’s far too long, far too self-indulgent and far too sentimental. I will accept all bar the last of those, but it is an absolute blast, made with care and love, and delivering some really beautiful moments of cinema, as well as stunning visual effects.
It also features Jack Black at the peak of his powers. A few years before, he had produced his fantastic performance in School of Rock, and then, as the madly ambitious filmmaker Carl Denham, he was magnificent in Jackson’s simian spectacular.

With crazed eyes and no sense of danger or limitations, Black’s Denham tears through the film, rushing in were others fear to tread, and losing crew members all over the place, comforting the survivors with the knowledge that their colleagues died for what they believed in. It is a really excellent performance, captivating and amusing.

It showed another side to Black, whose comic performances had peaked with the aforementioned School of Rock, and he seemed to be becoming one of Hollywood’s finest assets with many strings to his bow.

So, what happened to him? Nacho Libre, The Holiday, and then last year Gulliver’s Travels, Black has been in a run of pictures which aim for mediocrity and don’t always reach it. Much of this is not down to him; he remains a talented screen presence and hugely likeable. This shines through in occasional stronger outings, like Tropic Thunder and even his voice work in Kung Fu Panda.

Such films are few and fleeting however. There is a far greater stench of disappointment about the path his career has taken. For instance, who on earth watched, liked or remembers Year One?
Jack Black, like Brendan Fraser before him, has shown signs of a rich and varied career, but it has never quite come together. Perhaps it’s the scripts he gets given. Perhaps it’s his career choices. Only he really knows, but I still like him and hope that he manages to turn it around. It would be a shame if he’s already passed his peak.


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