Has a more likable actor made more inconsequential movies than Kevin Bacon? Always a welcome presence in any film, he’s managed to have a career by being both noticeable and invisible at the same time. Does anyone not like Kev? Of course not. Does anyone care if he has a movie coming out? Of course not.
The first and last time crowds lined up for a Bacon flick was Footloose, 25 years ago. He’s smart enough to catch onto this because he rarely headlines big studio films anymore, the last one being last year’s bizarrely terrible Death Sentence and before that was way back in 2001 with Hollow Man. Anything he leads doesn’t really make money, so it seems he’s content to be a supporter, which is a role he’s suited for.
He doesn’t realize this, but he’s not a great actor. He’s good, and he has, not charisma, but a natural affability that is never off-putting. It’s only when he tries to act that he shoots himself in the foot, which is probably why he hasn’t taken a demanding role in nearly 20 years. He lacks range, which is the hallmark of any great actor. But, he is serviceable in drama or comedy, as long as neither is too broad, which is probably why he gets cast in important films like JFK, A Few Good Men, Apollo 13, and Mystic River, but none of those are good because of him (although he ALWAYS saves a film from totally sucking), nor were they hits thanks to his chutzpah. That isn’t a bad career actually, reap the benefits, but never be blamed when something fails.
Have you ever been in a social situation where you didn’t know anyone, except for maybe one person and you only sort of know them, but you cling to them and chat away because they’re a safe beacon compared to standing alone? Think a work happy hour, or your in-law’s family reunion, or when you had to break into teams in a class you didn’t have any friends in. He’s that guy. He’s the good guy that’s a safe bet. He’s the guy that, if you were forced to carpool with him, it wouldn’t be too bad and you could probably share a couple good laughs. He’s the theatrical equivalent of a Chris Isaak. Some hits early on, now he just goes about doing his thing without bothering anybody. It's almost always good. Nobody minds, some are pleased to hear from him again, but it isn’t causing ripples anywhere.
He just turned 50, so he isn’t growing old tragically like John Cusack, or a past his prime blowhard like Kevin Costner, or over-exposed like Samuel L. Jackson. He just is and nobody minds or notices.
I wish him the best, I really do. He could have small roles in every movie for all I care. He has no shtick that gets old or anything. The poor guy is just going to have a career like a blue collar factory worker. Punch the clock day after day. Do your best. Don’t bother anyone and no one bothers you. Live a good life, but maybe only make a lasting impression on those that know you best, even if people in general are grateful for the service you render.
Incidentally, he has an even less notable music career fronting the Bacon Brothers. In fact, they were on Craig Ferguson the other night and weren't half bad. But, much like his movies, I wish him well, but I'm not buying the album. The rub is, I hate myself for feeling that way. He was in Footloose for crying out loud! I'll say it again, who doesn't like Kev?!