Monday, June 23, 2008
Three Myths About Angelina Jolie
In honor of Wanted, a movie based on a comic that I have not read, but can guess that I would not like, I would like to debunk three myths about Angelina Jolie.
1.Angelina Jolie is Attractive.
This one has always confused me. The media, Maxim magazine, etc, always insist that she is attractive. Really? Those lips? That Billy Bob Thornton stuff with the vials of blood and the dirty public sex talk? Those horrendous lips? And she's always making some ridiculous come hither face that makes her look mildly constipated. Just look at that picture!
My wife insists that, having cleaned up and gotten classy, Jolie is now pretty. I disagree. But I suppose some people like people who look like strange giant-eyed aliens with lips that resemble giant slugs inches from crawling into her mouth, especially when said slugs are devouring overripe strawberries.
2. Angelina Jolie is a Good Actor
Admittedly, I certainly have not seen everything Ms. Jolie has done. But I have seen The Good Shepherd, where she was fine, large chunks of the Tomb Raider movies, where she was terrible, Gone in 60 Seconds, where she was possibly worse, large chunks of The Bone Collector, where she was no good, and Girl, Interrupted, where she was again pretty darn bad. So the best I'm willing to give her is: she can be ok, I guess. But I'm more inclined to think she's terrible.
3.Angelina Jolie is a Movie Star
This is the big one. I have no doubt that she is one of the most famous people in the world, etc, etc. She sells magazines and provides news coverage. But is she a movie star?
A very early review of Wanted (http://comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=16815) identifies the stars this way: "James McAvoy - "Shameless," "State of Play," "Last King of Scotland"
Angelina Jolie - every tabloid ever"
If you recognize James McAvoy, it's because you saw one of the handful of movies he's made in his brief career. If you recognize Angelina Jolie, it's got nothing to do with movies at all.
Previously on this blog, I've defined a movie star as one who can sell tickets to a movie just by being in it. Let's look at Jolie's top 10 earning films. (source: Box Office Mojo)
1. Mr. and Mrs. Smith - $186 mil
2. Shark Tale - $161 mil
3.Lara Croft - Tomb Raider - $131 mil
4. Kung Fu Panda - $121 mil (and counting)
5. Gone in 60 Seconds - $101 mil
6. Beowulf - $82 mil
7. The Bone Collector - $67 mil
8. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 2 - $66 mil
9. The Good Shepherd - $60 mil
10. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - $38 mil
So, first of all, although she has 5 hits (around $100 mil or more) she has zero true, $200+ blockbusters - but that's ok. You can be a star without blockbusters. But numbers 2 and 3 are animated pictures - and regardless of what studio execs believe, people do not go to see animated pictures for the voice talent (you think Monsters, Inc. made $255 mil because it had John Goodman and Billy Crystal in it?). You could argue that since she was sexy naked Jolie-animated in Beowulf, people did go to that to see her, but that movie cost tons of money and only made $80 mil, so even if people saw the movie because she was in it, not many people saw it period.
Two more of the top 5 had success clearly not based on her. Gone in 60 Seconds was a Bruckheimer picture with Nic Cage, so it was gonna make money with or without Jolie - and still wasn't a blockbuster. I'm willing to give her more credit for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but I still say she's responsible for less than half of it; Brad Pitt was a legitimate star, and Vince Vaughn is now, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith was part of his ascendancy. So I'd say she's less than a third responsible for Smith's success - let's give her and Vaughn each a quarter.
So she is responsible for one hit in her entire career: Tomb Raider. And people hated that movie so much that, even though the second picture got much better reviews, it made only half the money as the original. So Angelina Jolie is responsible for one hit, which was such a terrible movie that it killed the franchise potential of a popular video game. Yikes.
I'm posting this before Wanted comes out, so who knows? It could make $200 million, and I'd give her presence more credit for that than James McAvoy's or Morgan Freeman's, even though she reportedly has a smaller part in the movie than she does in the ad campaign. She could, of course, still become a movie star. She's just not one yet.
There is an alternate definition of a movie star. You could define a movie star as someone who is famous for making movies who is pursued by the paparrazi and is a hot celebrity. Since this definition has little to do with the success of movies, or even movies at all, it's not my definition. But it's the only way I could think of Jolie as a movie star.