Quick, name the last good Kevin Costner movie you saw. Chances are you might mention Dances With Wolves or JFK or Fields Of Dreams. Do you realize those films are all almost 20 years old? For a guy who started so idealistically and so full of promise as a man who could humanize the best the American male could be, his fall from grace is a perfect example of ego overcoming talent.
I watched The Guardian this weekend, another in a long line of so-so films from a guy who’s lost his way. I won’t get into reviewing the film, as it doesn’t merit the effort, but I began thinking why it was that he means so little now. The answer is this: he has no sense of humor about himself and it’s obvious to anyone who watches him. He appears to embody the most annoying trait a person can have, the inability to acknowledge their weaknesses.
How many times have you stared annoyingly at a coworker or friend who is oblivious and delusional. Who doesn’t seem to “get it”. Who can’t admit when they’re wrong or need help. The effort they put into their image is too strong to puncture. This is Kevin Costner.
For some hard evidence of this, track down his appearance on Inside The Actors Studio (the whole show can be seen in installments on youtube, but this section is the one where he starts standing up to address the class). He seems to forget that this is James Lipton's show and he’s just been invited there to discuss his craft. The guy takes it over. He’s constantly standing up and passing on righteous advice to the crowd. While the effort seems altruistic enough, it reeks of piety.
So, let’s look at his last 11 films.
Mr. Brooks – so-so, actually
The Guardian – inconsequential
Rumor Has It – terrible
The Upside Of Anger – his single bright spot of the last 10 years and it’s because he’s basically playing himself, something he should do more of
Open Range – an underrated Western
Dragonfly – never saw it
3000 Miles To Graceland – this either
Thirteen Days – great, but that has nothing to do with him
For Love Of The Game – a lame attempt at getting back his baseball mojo
Message In a Bottle – sappy pap
The Postman – his “jumping on Oprah’s couch” moment
Is there a single one in the bunch that can even come close to Bull Durham (THE greatest sports movie of all-time), JFK (one of THE greatest political thrillers of all time, as well as the boilerplate for anyone trying to decipher the Kennedy assassination mystery), or The Untouchables (where his potential as an American hero was first born)? Keep in mind, I haven’t even mentioned dreck like The Bodyguard, Robin Hood or Waterworld, the initial chinks in his armor.
Much like Tom Cruise now, those films and several appearances, began to cause his audience to try and put a finger on what’s wrong with the guy. “Yeah, we’ve liked him for years, but there’s always been something a little off that we’ve ignored because the movies were good. I can’t see the movies for what they are now, because the weirdness is so glaring.”
Here’s hoping Kevin can stop taking himself so seriously.
Btw, I'm not the fan of Field of Dreams and Dances With Wolves that others are or else I'd spend more time slurping them.