An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Okay, show of hands, who amongst you happens to think Joan Cusack is a babe...? What. that's it? Well, I don't mind, it's less competition for me if Joan ever happens to come strolling 'round these parts. She sure don't need the likes of you with your parrot tattoos, fruitbasket hats and pet ostriches. Take a look at yourself in the mirror there, pal. You look ridiculous.
That said and done, your reticence about flagging Joan as the righteous babe she so surely is illustrates a big problem about the esteemed Ms. Cusack: She's easy to ignore. Despite her daffy, Carol Lombardish affectations, she too easily fades into the background, especially when placed alongside more flamboyant actors. Sure, she got a couple of supporting actress Oscar nominations, one for the Virginia Slims style feminist piece, "Working Girl" (A film not fit for trained monkeys to act in), but after 20 years in the Hollywood biz, Joan still has a tendency to blend in with the scenery.
Not so with her brother, John Cusack. Though he was never officially a member of the 80's brat pack, He's managed to outdo all of them by having a pretty consistent and eclectic career starting out with classic teen angst films like "The Sure Thing" and "Better Off Dead" to current classics like "High Fidelity" and "Being John Malkovich." Sure beats Molly Ringwald struggling to get through films like "Office Killer" or Andrew Macarthy's turn in "Weekend at Bernies Pt7." Cusack managed to do something few of the eighties teen stars really pulled off: Grow Up. In truth, he always seemed a bit older, a bit wiser, than the brat pack moppets of his day, and yet in his current incarnation, he holds onto the "I'm still figuring what's life's all about" attitude that powers the best moments of adolescence.
However, as great as John is, I can't fantasize about what it would be like to be stuck naked in a suana with him and a paperback version of the Kama Sutra so let's get back to Joan (Well, I can, I just have no desire to do so.) Truthfully, I've always bristled at the fact that gal with such built-in beauty who's also really fucking funny don't get no play in the Hollywood lust-a-thon. In fact, a choice quote from Joan pulled from her E-online profile of illustrates this: "...There are way more different character roles for men than there are for women...With women, it's usually you're the babe or you're the supportive friend [who's] sort of brassy and obnoxious, cracking jokes. I'm not the babe." WHAT IN GOD'S NAME ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, JOANIE-PIE?! You're more babelicious than Tia Carrere, Pam "Please use my head as a basketball, Tommy!" Anderson and Melanie Griffith put together. Well, at least in my world anyway. And who would you rather be considered a babe by, the whole of the movie casting industry or some nutty guy with no furniture who eats walnuts for breakfast?
Actually, part of me is sort of glad Joan has this attitude, cuz, damn, she plays those brassy, obnoxious broads so well. (Let's see Gwen Paltrow deliver a line like "I need a heterosexual male, CODE RED!" with the same zest as a repeatedly scorned Joan in 1998's "In and Out." Gwennie'd probably pass out from exhaustion and demand her third carrot-shake for the day. Friggin' scarecrow. Anyway, this piece isn't about slamming Ms. Paltrow even though that'd make a very entertaining work unto itself, so let's get back to Joan.) And I'll tell you, my all time favorite part for Joan, is the one that actually allowed her to step out from under the "wacky female best friend" stereotype into the "wacky female pedophile" stereotype. I'm talking, of course, of her role in the 1990 Jessica Lange drama, "Men Don't Leave," where Joan plays the neighbor of recently widowed Lange and her kids. With an emboldened forthrightness, Joan quickly moves in on Lange's oldest, a young Chris O'Donnell, seducing him with the wacky mannerisms that every boy dreams of in his first crush. And while at first her character is deftly played as villain, she ultimately redeems herself, by taking a manic depressive Lange for a hot air balloon ride to raise her spirits. (Culminating in a great bit of dialogue - Joan: "I had a friend who was once sad like you." Jessica: "Is she all right now?" Joan: "She's institutionalized." - Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but you get the drift.) Would Jennifer Lopez take Jessica Lange for a balloon ride? Would Pam Anderson? (She's got her own balloons to deal with.) The truth is, there's only one gal in Hollywood who can take Jessica Lange for balloon rides, and that's Joan Cusack. Well, her and Cheri Oteri.
Truthfully, John could've stopped there and enjoyed his iconoclastic status for the rest of his life, but motherfucker knew he was destined for a lifetime of eclectic film roles. He did a couple more offbeat teen comedies like "The Sure Thing" (Moderately okay) "One Crazy Summer" (Blah) and "Say Anything" (A genuinely moving film) and then kind of hit an impasse. What was next for John Cusack? Would he filter out like so many brat packers were doing, finding that their teenage charm didn't work in the big, bad, grown up world ('member Anthony Michael Hall in "Out of Bounds"?) Not a chance. While other teen stars made frantic attempts at commercial success, Cusack stepped back and did a series of offbeat productions like "TapeHeads" (which established his relationship with recurring partner Tim Robbins) and "The Grifters" (which established the fact that Annete Benning has really flabby tits.) By choosing to go an independent route as opposed to pursuing industry blockbusters John played his ace card and presented himself as a real actor. Did it pay off? Hell, yeah! For instance, find me an actor that wouldn't personally fellate the Incredible Hulk for a part in a Woody Allen movie. Well, in the mid nineties John landed parts in two such movies, "Shadows and Fog" and "Bullets Over Broadway" with nary a trace of Hulk-jizz on his chin. That's right, while the rest of us were crying in our soup cuz Kurt Cobain had just blown his face apart and our heroin dealer was making a trip to the Mecca, John was swinging his way through roles with one of the biggest actor/director/comedians around. (He also did some stinkers, like the pseudo noir "City Hall" and the subway to yawnsville, "Map of the Human Heart" but, hey, they can't all be winners.) Anyway, this all pretty much leads up to where Cusack is today: a dude who can grab juicy parts in innovative films like "Hi-Fidelity" and "Being John Malkovich" and still find the time to chase Pete Moss of his property (see interview above.)
It almost seems overwhelming, don't it, to think of one family containing so much talent. Well, let me tell you, I've got a theory about this: What if Joan and John Cusack are the same person? Sure, they've done plenty of flicks together, but with the power of digital animation, it'd be easy throw those scenes together. Truly, that would make the Joan/John entity the most powerful actor in all Hollywood, with the ability to command a variety of roles, both male or female. Or, wait, what if Joan/John is actually some sort of evil scientist's robot, the byproduct of a mad plot to take over the world by releasing a pair of thespian siblings onto an unsuspecting populace? Or maybe Joan/John are a bi-gendered alien from a far off planet who have traveled here with a message of peace and universal disarmament?
Yeah, you wish!
Wil Forbis writes many strange and amusing things for a variety of top secret organizations like Entertainment Weekly.
View Wil's Acid Logic web log!
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