When an actress goes from winning an Oscar to starring in movies such as “Four Christmases,” “This Means War,” and “How Do You Know,” one must wonder exactly how many zeroes it takes to completely shut off one’s brain when choosing an acting gig. Okay, it’s not fair, acting is a job, money is money, and her focus is on acting not guessing what roles are going to be the most beloved. However, actress Reese Witherspoon has gained enough headlining clout to work “for the art” and really cater to fans of movies instead of cashing in on fluffy drivel. Fluffy drivel I imagine, to give you a visual, is probably what it looks like when someone pukes up cotton candy. If you look closely at a headshot of Reese Witherspoon, or freeze frame some of her movies, perhaps the devilish grin, billboard forehead, and doorknob chin make you think she is exactly the type of person meant to be in vomit movies. But then again, she is the sex appeal in those movies! An Oscar winning actress with those looks should be rocking the world with Meryl Streep type roles! Once again, I am being harsh, and petty, but as an outsider and a stranger to Reese Witherspoon: come on, it’s good fun. She can be quite the bubbly personality on screen and combine that with her generally blonde hair and one can see how she took the “America’s Sweetheart” crown away from Meg Ryan. Well, Meg Ryan made it easy with the nightmare that is her plastic surgery mauled face. Whoops, there I go again. I’m here to reflect on the positive. Does Reese Witherspoon have it in her to make good movies anymore? Here are some of the best movies she has starred in and the actress she needs to draw some inspiration from when picking future roles.
The Man In The Moon: Obviously Reese Witherspoon is not going to be able to go back and play teenagers anymore, however, this movie introducing her to the world was powerful in its teenage girl emotion and really sold audiences on her. The Man In The Moon is a somewhat depressing, coming-of-age movie about two sisters falling in love with the same boy. It did not launch her career into the stratosphere exactly, judging by her roles to follow soon after, but as a starting point she hit it out of the ballpark compared to many actors who spent their early careers fighting killer grizzly bears or flashing their boobs.
Freeway: This crazy, edgy re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood complete with a serial killer and America’s future “Sweetheart” being a foul-mouthed thug of a girl was an immediate show of range for the actress. This movie could be considered an art flick, daring, and the lightening was more or less caught in the bottle. One cannot expect all movies like this to be winners, most fall to the bottom of the trash heap, but if you’re going to make a bad decision and be in a crap movie, do it with guts and not trying to play safe with romantic crap-a-dies.
Fear: Reese Witherspoon went from one extreme to the opposite, a thug to a victim, for this movie in which Mark Wahlberg is a psycho boyfriend that steals her heart and tries to kill her family. Once again, she showed us she has “range” and the talent to pull off more than one type of character, while winning over audience sympathies.
Pleasantville: It looked like she was on her way to a future Oscar choosing to star in another cutting edge movie that was out to make a statement. Even if people find Pleasantville boring they will always remember it for being that movie where people are black and white and turn color after having sex.
Cruel Intentions: Reese Witherspoon had a successful pattern going for her! Once again she balances a naughty girl role by following up with a sweet and innocent one. In Cruel intentions she is the embodiment of virgin purity getting taken advantage of and yet being strong enough to find love for the one doing her wrong.
Election: Another movie one might call a “cult” hit. I do not recall much from this school election movie, other than I did not care for it when I saw it back in 1999. How it stands up now, I’m not sure, but I do know it remains an iconic role for many of the quirky/ intellectuals born in the MTV generation. Can she have another “iconic” role in her career in order to be remembered by a new generation?
Legally Blonde: Reese Witherspoon totally sold out with this performance, but the fact is: it worked. As a product Legally Blonde hit everything right as a top tier lady movie and if you actually asked me today to name movies Reese Witherspoon starred in, this one would probably be the one that comes out of my mouth first. She also starred in the sequel, which I will not list, but which was just as “okay.” I would not be opposed to her making a third one if someone were able to make a cool script, but odds are against that even being possible by the Hollywood machine these days.
Sweet Home Alabama: This movie proved she could pick a romantic comedy piece that wasn’t total garbage. It was very formula and the stricter critics might think she is already sliding in her career with this one, but I give it a pass.
Walk The Line: She one an Oscar playing the role of June Carter. This movie is a good drama and looking at her competition for the golden statue: she earned it rightfully.
After Walk The Line: Rendition and Water For Elephants, both were better than some choices she’s made, but neither made enough impact to matter and the latter seemed like a sad attempt to cash in on the Twilight vampire crowd with Robert Pattinson wooing the decade older actress. So, in looking at Reese Witherspoon’s past roles and successes what works for her? Variety! What awesome little girls are made of: sugar and spice and evil delights, she needs to show off that range again. Maybe her personal life has taken precedent over her artistic pursuits, understandable, but it still remains that she owes the movie world an apology for being a part of that horrible thing that is “Four Christmases.” At least one more good movie Reese Witherspoon, one more, and then we can forgive you, and invite you to the ceremony as a treasured guest as we pass the “America’s Sweetheart” crown off to someone else.