Monday Morning Critic – Jon Hamm & Don Draper … Million Dollar Arm And The Problems Of Mad Men
by Scott "Kubryk" Sawitz on May 12, 2014

MMC

Jon Hamm is simultaneously in a great spot as an actor … and an absolutely awful one too. He’s a genuinely dashing leading man who had to wait until his 40s to become a star because he always looked a decade older than he was. Hamm has said as such over the years because Hollywood had a major youth movement when he first moved out there 20 years ago; it was about being old enough to still be plausible as a high school student and Hamm looked like a veteran math teacher with tenure at 25.

It’s also why he’s been able to handle the level of fame as a burgeoning A-list movie star as well as he has; he’s old enough to have had to work his tail off for it. He’s got a ton of credits but it was Mad Men, currently wrapping up its final season on AMC over the next year or so, that brought him to fame. And it was moments like this that made you think that this guy is a massive, massive movie star waiting to happen.

Draper was a classic character and has had a ton of great, repeatable quotes and moments in Mad Men. Mad Men is one of those sneaky good television shows; Breaking Bad may be the better show, among others, but it’s not nearly as quotable as Mad Men can be. The Brian Cranston starring vehicle may have been more of a morality play, about a man allowed to be the evil sociopath he really is when given the opportunity to do so, but it doesn’t have nearly that ability to quote Walter White as easily as you can from Don Draper.

Draper’s the sort of alpha male we want to be. He’s smooth, has a hot wife and nails every insanely hot woman he can because he can. A big office, and a big job with a huge salary, no matter what has happened on the show nearly every guy who watches it has some desire to have that sort of “oomph” that Draper does. We all want that ability to have the world by the nuts like Draper seemingly does.

don-draper-mad-men-quote

He has a great line for every situation and has that swagger that a leading character should have. Throw in the time frame and Draper’s a throwback character that you want to be like. And Hamm’s the perfect actor to play him, too, as it’s a role in retrospect he was “born to play.” It’s the perfect casting fit and an interesting one, as well, as Hamm was a fairly unknown commodity at that point.

Thomas Jane turned the role down because at the time he didn’t do television. Then he did a couple seasons of Hung, of course, but it’s odd to think of Jane as Don Draper. It’s a role that Hamm has just owned from the beginning and is the one he’s most known for. And right now … right now, with a starring role in counter programming for the 2014 movie season on the horizon, the question remains.

Is Don Draper a career making role for Jon Hamm … or a career breaking one?

You would think this would be a career making role for him, leading him to be the sort of great leading man of his generation that is in short supply. An A-Team sequel would’ve had Hamm as its lead villain, most likely, and he’d make for someone competing with Clooney for similar roles. But curiously Hamm’s acting choices haven’t been of an actor aiming for leading man status.

It’s why a film like Million Dollar Arm, which feels like DTV title in many ways, is an interesting choice. He’s taken a ton of smaller roles, not trying to exceed a certain point, as his two biggest high profile films were The Town and Bridesmaids. He’s taken a number of smaller, supporting parts when the “George Clooney Path from Small Screen to Big Screen” would dictate bigger parts.

Hamm doesn’t see himself as a leading man, it seems, by his career choices. Yet Million Dollar Arm is the sort of role many actors in his spot would’ve taken years ago with the fame from Mad Men. Hamm chose smaller (but better) parts in a lot of films, most notably Friends With Kids, and it seemed like he was trying to establish that the sort of career of someone like Clooney wasn’t for him. Outside of The Town his film roles from 2007 on haven’t been one of a leading man waiting for his turn at the top.

They’ve been one of a character actor who can take leading roles occasionally, a Philip Seymour Hoffman with a personal trainer type of career trajectory. We’ll have to wait and see if Hamm continues this path, or if Arm is an odd leading choice for a character actor. But it’s interesting that a traditional leading role, something you would think he’d have knocked out a couple times by now, is still lacking in his cinematic resume.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Travis tackled Neighbors, which you can read here.

Joe Corey reveals that Welcome Back, Kotter is coming to DVD in a full series release. Time to trade in season 1, perhaps.

And now on MMC … we silently die a little inside because we’ll never be this funny in our lives.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

Bronson_poster

This week’s DVD – Bronson

Tom Hardy has had a near decade run so far of some brilliant film picks. He’s had a bunch of stinkers, of course, but a lot of his choices have been spectacular. And it started out with a film not a lot of people saw: Bronson.

Hardy stars as the titular Charles Bronson, formerly Michael Peterson, a man deemed Britain’s most dangerous prisoner. Initially going to be prison for a seven year stretch for armed robbery, Bronson has spent most of his adult life in prison. He’s a man prone to violent fits, etc, and has a life filled with being in prison and doing all sorts of wild crazy stuff.

The film follows his life in an odd way, giving Bronson (Hardy) a one man stage show while he talks about his life. We get flashbacks to his life while he discusses what’s happening in front of an audience. And it’s a one man tour de force from Bronson, one which would’ve gotten him an Oscar nomination in a year that wasn’t just absolutely loaded in the Best Actor side.

bronson1

This is an interesting biopic that stays mainly to the established facts but is from Bronson’s point of view. So you get a history that’s not quite 100%, because it’s from his POV in terms of storytelling style, but it’s a solid film. It was the film that got Nicolas Winding Refn’s name into many people’s heads before Drive put it into overdrive.

This is a solid film … but Hardy is exceptional in it. Slight recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Godzilla – Another remake/reboot of the classic monster film.

See it – I like the cast, and everything about it, but so far the film feels like another version of Pacific Rim. It feels like a film that’ll be interesting in theatres, for the big massive experience, but won’t work as well on DVD.

Million Dollar Arm – Jon Hamm recruits pitchers in India.

Skip it – This looks incredibly skippable .. I like Hamm but this reeks of “I had a couple months after Mad Men and the check was huge” kind of decision making.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .



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