By Adam Nayman and Keith Uhlich
It’s not fun to watch a favorite actor fail. Much to the confusion (and amusement) of certain of my friends, I’ve cultivated a great fondness for Ryan Reynolds over the years, probably ever since his preternaturally snappy line readings on the late, and unlamented, ABC sitcom Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place. Reviewing Roger Kumble’s underrated Just Friends, Reverse Shot’s own Nick Pinkerton put a finger on Reynolds’s strong if slightly irregular comic pulse: “His standby shtick is meandering through a line reading with a vacillating tone before snapping it out, quick and nasty, through an immaculate clenched smile.” Reynolds has struck a few different notes in his work since then—I liked his unraveling efficiency expert in Marcos Siega’s clumsy but affecting seriocomic Chaos Theory and loved his rueful amusement-park mechanic in Adventureland. Those performances smartly undermined Reynolds’s good looks, as did his harrowing one-man show in last year’s Buried: being contorted in a dark coffin for ninety minutes is a good way to make sure nobody’s looking at your abs. Once again, I defer to Nick’s wisdom: “When it’s time to put that leading man jawline to its proper use, he [Reynolds] can seem out of his element.”
Which brings us to Green Lantern and Reynolds’s failure therein. His turn as fighter-pilot-turned-cosmically-endowed-Earth-defender Hal Jordan signifies something rarer and more disappointing than bad casting: good casting gone horribly awry. Part of the blame goes to the filmmakers—director Martin Campbell and his dim Lantern Corps of screenwriters—for giving an actor so adept at sly, insinuating asides such a hangdog role. There are few opportunities for Reynolds’s Jordan to seem chuffed that he’s been given the keys to the DC Comics kingdom. Continue reading.