It’s not every statuesque blonde who gets to start out as a Seventeen cover girl, land her first acting gig opposite a heavily CGI-ed Jim Carrey, and wind up, less than a decade later, being directed by Martin Scorsese and co-starring with several Oscar nominees and winners. But that’s exactly what happened to Miss Cameron Diaz — from “The Mask” to “Gangs Of New York” in just eight short years, with stops along the way for mega-budgeted cheesecake flicks (“Charlie’s Angels”), respectable indies that allowed her to show how serious she was by getting all ugly (“Being John Malkovich”), and the apparently unstoppable “Shrek” franchise.
This week, Diaz finds herself, once again, among the Oscar-rich company of Toni Collette, Shirley MacLaine and director Curtis Hanson. Is this more evidence that Diaz has grown more choosy with her projects than she was back in the “Feeling Minnesota” era? Or has Diaz just fallen backward into a successful film career out of sheer luck?
Sarah D. Bunting
“In Her Shoes” is the first film project Diaz has appeared in since 2002 that isn’t a sequel. She also hosted that inanely named travel show, “Trippin’,” which no one watched, and assaulted various photographers (not that I blame her, but still), and broke up and got back together with Justin Timberlake eleventeen times. Maybe she didn’t have a choice about doing “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” but the overall impression I get is not that thoughtful decision-making is a strength of hers. Again: she keeps getting back together with Justin Timberlake. Dude looks like an Ewok and grabbed Janet Jackson’s boob on national television.
So, I would have to go with “sheer luck,” and I would have to include in that the fact that she got model genes — I don’t think she got the part in “Mask” because she blew the room away with her thespionics. She got it because she’s pretty and she can really wear clothes.
She’s a decent actress, I guess, but she’d better hope her looks hold, because she’s not Meryl Streep and she doesn’t appear to have a Plan B.
Yeah, I don’t really get how she got this reputation as a raving beauty. Her features are weirdly squished up at the bottom of her face. Word is (from those who have HDTV) that she has horrible skin, and although there’s this mythos surrounding her ass, I…don’t see it. By which I mean I do not see her ass; to me it looks totally flat. Not that I’m Christy Turlington over here, myself, but no one’s putting me on magazine covers and acting like I’m God’s gift.
Video: Cameron Diaz on 'In Her Shoes'
The other half of Diaz’s appeal, however, apart from her looks, is her reputation as a guy’s girl. Magazine profiles on her — still, to this day — make a big fat deal out of telling us how much she eats, how bad her table manners are, how gleefully she belches, how loud and inelegant her laugh is and so on.
The official line seems to be that she’s her “There’s Something About Mary” character come to life — a game, dorky football fan who likes to eat junk food and watch “SportsCenter” in bed. Or, in other words, every man’s fantasy. Diaz hasn’t gone back to the “Mary” well all that much, but if and when the sexpot roles run dry, she’ll have that persona to fall back on.
I feel like she’s already fallen back on that persona, though — not so much the burpy guy’s-girl part of it, specifically, but the dorky part. She played a charming squawky karaoke spaz in “My Best Friend’s Wedding”; she played a charming dim-witted dancing spaz in “Charlie’s Angels.” She’s gotten a lot of mileage out of her willingness to frug in her underpants, style her hair with semen, and otherwise make a fool out of herself (insert “Feeling Minnesota” joke here).
But it’s getting old. It’s already old off-screen; I don’t begrudge her the ability to eat as many cheese fries as she wants, and if she’s passing gas left and right, good for her (no, seriously…hee!), but I don’t need to hear about it anymore, either. And onscreen, we’ve seen it done; she can’t get much more mileage out of it.
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I think Diaz might gravitate toward goofier roles because they make her less threatening and more relatable, but I also think it’s time she took bitchier parts — not just because she’s in danger of typecasting herself, à la Meg Ryan, as America’s spaz-heart, but because she’s actually really good at bitchy parts. She played a bitch on wheels in “Any Given Sunday”; Christina Pagniacci is a wholly unsympathetic character (with some hilariously overwrought dialogue), and Diaz rocked it.
Yeah, maybe that’s the ticket. I haven’t seen “Very Bad Things,” but I hear that her performance there, as a WASP-nightmare bridezilla, was quite enjoyable.
I did see it, unfortunately, but Diaz did indeed make an enjoyably hateable ‘zilla.
And if Diaz is not, in fact, a rotten bitch in real life — and, indeed, all evidence points to her being a delightful young woman — then that’s about as far as I care to see her stretch as an artist. Because I did see “Gangs of New York,” and…wow. She was just awful — completely overmatched both by the period material and by her co-stars. Marty, for real, it’s fine if you think Cameron Diaz is hot, but putting the cutie-pie ex-model up against Daniel Day-Freaking-Lewis is just cruel.
Fortunately, Diaz herself seems to have twigged that “Gangs” was kind of a failed experiment as far as she was concerned and is sticking closer to standard chick-movie roles — even in a superior chick movie, as “In Her Shoes” looks to be.
I don’t plan to see “In Her Shoes”; I like Toni Collette a lot, and maybe it’s just the General-Foods-International-Coffee-y marketing campaign, but…the movie looks annoying. But if Diaz plays a big juicy bitch in it, I’ll go see it; I don’t love chick movies, but I do like a good villain.
Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting are co-creators and co-editors of Television Without Pity.
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