Brad Pitt: Too Handsome to Act

Lukewarm reception by the critics be damned—“Burn After Reading” is a great time at the cinema, plain and simple. It’s a sharp, funny, bizarre dark comedy about despicable people operating within an even more despicable bureaucracy; a zany offering from the Coen brothers that easily earns a place in the same sentence as their previous comic masterpieces, “The Big Lebowski,” “Fargo” and “Raising Arizona.” And it has a stellar cast to boot—a barrage of A-listers who breathe life and dimension into their otherwise outrageous characters. Particularly impressive are John Malkovich as a belligerent cuckold with a drinking problem and Richard Jenkins as a downtrodden gym manager suffering from a tragic case of unrequited love. Rounding out the cast are George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and J.K. Simmons.

And then there’s Brad Pitt. Pitt plays Chad Feldheimer, a dim-witted, happy-go-lucky personal trainer who enjoys biking, enthusiastically singing along to his iPod, and imbibing copious amounts of Jamba Juice. He’s an endearing idiot with frosted highlights and a deplorable fashion sense. Sounds hilarious, right?

Well, it’s not. Pitt plays his character as an over-the-top, cartoonish oaf, conspicuously devoid of nuance and subtlety in a film that features so many impressive performances from the other actors. And it’s frustrating to watch, especially when one considers the character’s potential had he been played by a more adept actor. Pitt is unable to truly inhabit the Chad character; rather, he operates as Brad Pitt acting in a comedy, seemingly always on the verge of turning and winking at the camera as if to acknowledge his commendable comedic turn against his usual leading-man type. Which is not to say that he doesn’t have funny moments, because he certainly does. It’s just that those moments are overshadowed by Pitt’s overacting as a means to mask his own self-consciousness in a role in which he doesn’t feel comfortable.

Why is Pitt incapable of comic prowess? His ineptitude inevitably stems from the fact that he’s been able to rely on his sexiness to carry him through the majority of his career. From the moment he burst onto the scene as a wayward cowboy badass in “Thelma and Louise,” to his homoerotic romp with Tom Cruise in “Interview with the Vampire,” to his relentlessly charming international bank robber in the “Ocean’s” trilogy, Pitt has maintained his reputation as a Hollywood sexy man by, well, being incredibly sexy. He can play it cool and charming so effortlessly because he is a cool and charming dude, and the majority of his film roles, even the more “legitimate” ones like his turn as Cate Blanchett’s husband in “Babel,” rely on him to display some facet of his real self. Most of the time, we fail to notice Pitt’s acting shortcomings onscreen because he’s so appealing to watch. But put him in a role where he’s stripped of his reliance on his handsomeness and the true limitations of Brad Pitt the actor will inevitably shine through.

4 Responses to Brad Pitt: Too Handsome to Act

  1. Pitt has somehow managed to legitimize ‘non-acting,’ as an acceptable performance tool. His self-conscious smirks, though more emotive than his empty, placid periods of introspection in 7 Years in Tibet, are just reminders that this dude is trying to be an actor. He seemed successful enough at playing the role of someone playing a role in Legends of the Fall, True Romance, and 12 Monkeys, but then he bombed in Meet Joe Black (beyond tedious).

    I blame Fight Club. Fight Club is what sent him down this road of half-acting. This road riddled with smirks, pensive periods of chewing his tongue, pouting lips and empty eyes. Dude is actually worse than Keanu, whom I actually think has a more animated visage than Pitt. And now Pitt’s non-acting is seeping into Angelina Jolie’s performance in A Mighty Heart, and into EVERYTHING Ryan Gosling does. I’m sick of it, and I believe he is to blame.

    You know what movie I watched again the other night? Jerry Maguire. Great fucking movie. I said it. And you know what? Great fucking performances. From Bonnie Hunt. From RZ. From that dude who played Rod Tidwell. And even from Tom Cruise. Say what you will about his mental stability, dude can always play a fascinating character with conviction. Mark my words, his time will come again, and we’ll finally be able to agree that Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling are a waste of time. Tom Cruise and Shia LaBeouf. Now those are some talented cats.

  2. Commingle Male says:

    Don’t blame Fight Club. That’s only when Pitt started publicly admitting that he didn’t really like to act. He’s been going through the motions for as long as directors have continued to cast him, and he’s been steadily trying less and less that whole time. It’s like Clinton on Lewinsky: because he could. Pitt’s natural proclivity is to try to put in as little possible effort as an actor. It’s like a gravitational pull for him. And people let him because he put a cowboy hat on his jones in Thelma and Louise in ’91 and became a sexual icon. He’s always been doing exactly what he wants – nothing. It’s not his fault that he’s been completely unchallenged his entire career, he’s just too handsome for people to NOT to cast him. And so he’s too handsome to act.

    By the way, am I the only one who didn’t know Burn was filmed in New York? How did I miss this?

  3. HandsomeBraystretLad says:

    I’m probably the black Brad Pitt in the looks department-or so I’m told,and with MUCH more upstairs-so I’d
    like someone posting to this thread to give me some ideas about industry people I should contact who can
    help me launch an acting career.

  4. Yo send us some headshots and some links to stuff you’ve been in and we’ll definitely make the curious case of the black Brad Pitt one of…actually, our only main cause.

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