Falling behind a little this week on the Jake Gyllenhaal newsfront. Though not too much is happening. Stephanie posted a short video of Jake appearing on Disney Radio, where he dispenses some advice for kids who want to be actors:
Adults who want to be actors have to go to the gym. Jake was spotted after a workout in LA on Monday:
Writers who want to be actors dispense advice to those who are: Career Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal.
I shouldn't be so dismissive. Anne Thompson is a legitimate Hollywood writer. And we have to acknowledge that PoP has been a disappointment domestically. And that many (misguided) critics couldn't see past Jake's past roles to appreciate him as the Prince. This perception will persist, unfortunately.
Latest Misfire: This summer's $200-million would-be franchise 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,' a well-made but featherweight B-movie adventure from Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Newell, failed to launch. After losing 'The Dark Knight' to Christian Bale, 'Spider-Man' to Tobey Maguire, and 'Avatar' to Sam Worthington, Gyllenhaal had finally landed a major action role in a summer tentpole, or so he thought. Instead, many reviewers argued that Gyllenhaal was miscast, and despite his buffed-up physique, failed to carry the action adventure. While some women reviewers liked him -- AP's Christy Lemire describes his "engaging presence" and "those big, blue eyes, that goofy smile - and that sweetness helps keep the mood light," while The New York Times' Manohla Dargis writes that "a few hours of Mr. Gyllenhaal jumping around in leather and fluttering his long lashes has its dumb-fun appeal," other critics cited Gyllenhaal's "doubts and insecurities," "puppy-dog eyes," "self-deprecation" and "hangdog demeanor." Not what you expect from a rugged action hero.
Biggest Problem: 'Prince of Persia' failed to open well -- and didn't change the popular perception of Gyllenhaal as a likable leading man best suited to naturalistic dramas. There's still a sizable gap between the rising star's acting bonafides and his ability to put butts in seats. While Gyllenhaal earned excellent reviews in recent dramas 'Brothers,' 'Rendition' and 'Zodiac,' the films disappointed at theater wickets.
Major movie stars have a hint of danger about them; Gyllenhaal, who hits 30 in December, is one of many boyish American leading men who will earn needed gravitas as they age. No one had any trouble buying him as a well-muscled grunt with a shaved head in the realistic Gulf War drama 'Jarhead,' but audiences did resist him in breastplate and leather in a big-budget Disney studio sword-and-scandal flick. Male action stars tend to appeal to men, while Gyllenhaal's primary fan-base is female.
Surfing the internet makes one wonder if Jake will ever be able to win over a certain segment of the population. And it isn't just men. And it's not because of his big eyes or his sweet face. It's because some people will never be able - or don't want to try - to forget that Jake was in Brokeback Mountain.
Biggest Assets: A gifted actor with impressive range, Gyllenhaal has more options than ever. While 'Prince of Persia' was a setback for him, he may have moved the needle slightly. In the movie, he is charming, sexy and physical (with a boost from stuntmen and digital effects) in the role of a wily, athletic young prince who is scooped off the street as a kid by a kindly king. And he even manages a Cockney accent amid an ensemble of Brits.
Kudos for acknowledging Jake's talent and range. But what's with the Cockney accent line? What movie was she watching? Or did she even watch the movie at all. This feels like a collection of criticism from other people who watched the film. One of the problems in film "journalism" is a group mentality. Anne Thompson sees that a majority of the alleged serious film critics dismissed PoP, so she does, too. Maybe she did see it, but you can't tell from this piece.
To be clear, I'm not dismissing criticism of Jake merely because it's negative. There were some reviewers who made valid arguments against the movie and Jake. But everything is a matter of perception. Thompson selected facts that supported her conclusion, while leaving out the fact that the movie is performing very well overseas and that audience ratings for the movie are pretty good. (I know that the ultimate audience vote is at the box office, but if the people who see a movie like it, but other people still don't go, you can't place all the blame on the lead actor. And yes, I know that's how Hollywood works. But Thompson's column is supposed to be an independent, fresh take on the usual Hollywood spin.)
It's a hard piece to read as a fan of Jake's, but worth discussing and trying not to be too defensive. Because you know Hollywood is having this conversation, too.
(Photos courtesy of IHJ.)