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Adrien Brody – what the hell happened?

Adrien Brody - Oscar winner. Now Rob Schneider co-star.

Adrien Brody - Oscar winner. Now Rob Schneider co-star.

So I’m in the middle of downloading Wrecked, the most recent Adrien Brody film.

It’s IMDB score of 5.1 and this description tell you this probably won’t be an oscar winner…

A man trapped in a car wreck at the bottom of a ravine must overcome incredible odds to survive.

Eight years ago Brody became the youngest ever recipient of the Academy Award for Best Actor. He took home the oscar for his part in Roman Polanski’s Holocaust drama The Pianist beating the ridiculous pool of talent that is… Jack Nicholson, Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Daniel Day-fucking-Lewis. His celebratory assault on Halle Berry and looooong speech were the defining images of the show. It really felt like Hollywood had a new leading man.

And yet since then things have kinda gone downhill…

His blockbuster work – Predators, King Kong, The Village – failed to connect with audiences. The excellent Splice and The Darjeeling Limited aside, he has played his part in a host of turkeys. Even movies that on paper looked like hits – Hollywoodland, Cadillac Records – tanked.

Dare I say it, he now seems like the go-to guy for a cheap Hollywood name in your b-movie. Proof:

The Experiment!26 men are chosen to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control.
Giallo!In Italy, a woman fears her sister may have been kidnapped. Inspector Enzo Avolfi fears it’s worse. They team up to rescue her from a sadistic killer known only as Yellow.
High School!A high school valedictorian who gets baked with the local stoner finds himself the subject of a drug test. The situation causes him to concoct an ambitious plan to get his entire graduating class to face the same fate, and fail.

Now I’m trying not to be completely facetious about the man’s career, he does show up as Salvador Dali in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and the new Tony Kaye (American History X) movie, Detachment, looks promising, but bottom line for a man who’s won an oscar, things haven’t really worked out for the fellah. Perhaps he just has a brutal agent?

Oh actually any fear about his career being in freefall should be put aside. As well as Detachment, turns out that 2012 will also see Brody show up opposite Rob Schneider and Lindsay Lohan in something called Underground Comedy. Step one in career redemption I guess. But I’ll be with you every step of the way. Adrieeeeeeeen!

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Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.

While I agree that Adrien Brody’s career hasn’t gone well the last couple of years, I disagree with some of your comments. For one things, his blockbusters were all very profitable films, with King Kong getting half a billion dollars in revenue worldwide. The reviews for King Kong were very good – overall metacritic score of 81. The other two received mixed reviews but were moderately well received by audiences (6.5 ish by IMDB). So were they failures? Not by any measure.

Unfortunately Mr. Brody seems to choose roles without a great deal of concern for how marketable they are but offer him roles he finds challenging and interesting. Many of these end up being niche films that do not appeal to everyone, like Splice, which you mention very positively, but many viewers are turned off by the sex scene (got a rating of 0 from the Washington Post because of it) and these controversial choices affect his box office performance. Splice was not quite profitable and maybe could easily have been without of the very shocking elements that Brody mention attracted him to the role.

He also seems to be a bit of a courageous champion of small effort independent films, at times underdogs (unknown directors like Michael Greenspan with Wrecked), or like Gaddafi’s son’s brand new company who put up the money for The Experiment). The Experiment has been quite positively reviewed by critics, and some have wondered why it wasn’t released. Part of the answer may have been the disturbing content of the movie which a lot of people mention – I myself haven’t watched it for this reason – which made it a commercial risk. It’s also likely that both production companies lacked the means/support/connections to make a release happen so both ended up going straight to DVD. Doesn’t mean they’re B movies, it means they’re more or less arthouse films that weren’t given a chance to find their theatre audience. This is where he really needs to improve his decisions because he won’t be able to champion much for much longer if he doesn’t rebuild his commercial value as an actor.

As I see it Giallo is the only one that deserves to be on your b movie list, since by all reports it’s pretty shitty and he’s admitted he only got involved in it to give his then gf a role, a stupid but selfless move.

As for High School, preliminary reviews for it are strong (imdb reports a 7.5 average from 220 people who attended one of its screenings, and its critic reviews so far are also positive). It’s scheduled to be released in April 2012 and I’m hoping it’s a hit. So he’s got Detachment in Jan which has already won two film prizes, High School in April 2012 which could be a success him, and Underground Comedy which looks like a cult-hit type off the wall easy box win with the right promotion.

I’m rooting for him too. Cheers.

Thanks for the response canadianspic. Great points, I really would just love to sit him and his agent down to get a handle on how they choose which roles to take. Is he being offered the bigger parts anymore and he just chooses The Experiment or Wrecked. I have huge admiration for seemingly doing what he wants as opposed to someone like Bradley Cooper or Ryan Reynolds who just seem to show up in “career-motivated” roles… Fingers crossed 2012 is a big one for him though.

I’d love to do the same thing, and have wondered if maybe his agent doesn’t influence his decisions much (Brody claims his involvement in Wrecked was motivated by his Dad’s enthusiasm for the role.) By all reports his acting on Wrecked is strong, it’s the story that wears off on the audience after half an hour. Had someone (agent?) been thinking about marketability and not just interesting roles for him he would have passed on this because quite simply at this stage he’s better off making fewer films than adding box office duds to his filmography.

He said some time back that he was secure enough to not need to take work for the sake of working, so he’s not doing it because he’s broke (as one twitterer speculated about his involvement in Splice!) But he isn’t likely getting recruited to play in blockbusters either from what I can tell, which all seem to go to a small group of popular and not particularly talented bunch. Nonetheless, I’m not sure I’m so upset about that since blockbusters are rarely the types of films I want to see. It would be sad indeed to see the likes of Adrien Brody become a standard in rom coms and transformers sequels. I just want to see him make SUCCESSFUL independent films which are artfully made/written and challenge and display his acting ability with the occasional good blockbuster casting to raise his profile.

In the meantime at least he’s getting some cool modelling gigs!

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