The star of this week’s movie is Michael Keaton, an actor I’ve heard being referred to as “washup up,” (until 2014, of course, when along came Birdman). He got his big break in the early-to-mid 80’s in films such as Mr. Mom and Johnny Dangerously and effortlessly made the transition into box office heavyweight when he became Beetlegeuse and Batman. After Batman Returns (1992) he starred in other commercially successful flicks, but things weren’t the same as his 80’s run. Usually people point to Jack Frost (1998) being the beginning of the end of his acting career. Sure he was still the famous Michael Keaton and he still was in successful movies, but he just wasn’t the big draw anymore. The term we tend to use to describe someone like this is “washed up.” This is an idiom I believe we need to let die.
The imagery, I suppose, is of some kind of ship, or anything that would have been of good use out in the big blue sea. Then, when it no longer served its purpose, it was tossed aside and washed up lethargically on shore. At least that’s the picture. But should anyone who has either lost popularity or simply stopped doing what they had been doing be referred to this way?
Remember when Phil Collins sang the soundtrack to Disney’s 1999 Tarzan? I’d heard he’d said that he was thankful to Disney because he was a “washed up” artist and they they had given his career a much needed boost. I hated hearing that. For me and millions of my peers Phil Collins had been one of the coolest voices with some of the coolest songs ever. And when we saw him in interviews it turned out that he was one of the coolest people too. He seemed like the kind of guy you’d like to hang around with. How could anyone call him that? I thought to myself.
I feel a little silly bringing this up. I mean, millionaire celebrities hardly come to mind as those amoungst us needing compassion. But I do feel bad… Are there really people out there who would call Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) or Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) that? Before he died, was Leonard Nemoy washed up? Or is it just the ones who are easier to mock like, say, Macaulay Caulkin or Paris Hilton? Either way, I feel bad saying it. Maybe it’s because my time is coming. Maybe I’ll be called “a washed up” mobile auto paint technician?? I’m not sure I can handle that kind of pressure!
Congratulations Beetlejuice. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actor: Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello, DDS in Little Shop of Horrors. To this date he is still one of my favourite comedians of all time. Maybe even holding the #1 spot. Guess that’s a list I need to work on.
Best Quote: “Uh oh.” — Gizmo (voiced by Howie Mandel) in Gremlins.
And now, my top 10 favourite acting comeback kids:
10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
9. Drew Barrymore
8. John Travolta
6. Betty White
5. Robert Downey, Jr.
4. Winona Ryder
3. Michael Keaton
2. Joaquin Phoenix
1. Mickey Rourke
Movie of the Week