There's Something Puzzling About Mary
Date of Assessment: May 21, 2010
Positive Buzzwords: Bankability, longevity, able to burp on command
Negative Buzzwords: Overrated, wtf?
The Case: While I'm never particularly impressed at a "meh" declaration, I must confess to a surprisingly blasé attitude towards Cameron Diaz. She's not particularly talented, nor is she terribly bright (that MTV eco-tourism special wherein Cameron declared her jealousy towards Drew Barrymore for taking the first "poo in the woods" comes to mind), but Diaz has enjoyed quite an enduring career since her acting debut in The Mask (1994). From there, Diaz has coasted upon a series of hits that have allowed her to build a rather deceptive box-office legacy. Undeniably, any actress would be awfully fortunate to have co-starred in projects with such heavyweight headliners as Jim Carrey (The Mask), Julia Roberts (My Best Friend's Wedding), Drew Barrymore (Charlie's Angels), and Tom Cruise (Vanilla Sky). Not to mention a certain franchise about a green ogre, which has consistently won over hundreds of millions of box office dollars, yet a vast majority of the audience (wee kidlets) never even realize that there are actors behind the characters.
Certainly, Cameron's resumé of late could be described in the following terms: "[H]ow shall we put this?... Shrek-heavy." And really, how much effort has it taken for Diaz to fulfill these celebrity voice talent duties? There's no official word on time required by her commitments for the Shrek movies; however, as a crude measuring stick, Angelina Jolie confessed to spending a mere 2 1/2 days on the Beowulf movie. Consider also that Diaz's participation in the Shrek franchise has resulted in four movies' worth of ungodly salaries ($3 million for the first installment, $10 million for the second, and so on).
Diaz has connections, no doubt about it, and she lucked out for quite awhile by essentially playing variations upon the same character type (A Life Less Ordinary, She's the One, My Best Friend's Wedding, Very Bad Things, Feeling Minnesota, and The Sweetest Thing). The slightly bewildering aspect of all of this repetition is that, in more than one instance -- Being John Malkovich and The Box -- Diaz has shown herself capable of stepping outside the romcom (for lack of a better word) box. However, the Golden Globe nomination she received for the former film can be swiftly counterbalanced with the mixed reviews she received for her peformance in the latter. After all, Diaz did receive the "There's Always Waitressing Award" for Worst Actress in The Box, which sat on studio shelves for a few years before receiving a begrudging release and a rather embarrassing $15 box office take.
These days, Diaz simply could not open a movie on her own star power (and, as mentioned already, it's debatable whether she's ever done so). In some cases, she can't open the movie with help from fellow A-listers Jude Law and Kate Winslet or with fading eye candy such as Ashton Kutcher. And were it not for the Shrek franchise's success, Diaz's worth would have fallen off the Hollywood radar long ago. As a live-action marquee name, her last five years of movies -- My Sister's Keeper, In Her Shoes, The Holiday, and The Box -- were all underperformers, and even the seemingly reliable formulaic romcom, What Happens in Vegas, failed to measure up to Diaz's (also formulaic) outings of yesteryear.
Still, it's rather difficult to get a grasp upon exactly how the theatergoing public feels about Cameron Diaz. The only movie that Diaz has opened largely on her own star power was 1998's There's Something About Mary. Admittedly, she shined in this role, but a lot of that movie's success also came from word-of-mouth ("beans and franks") publicity about the Farrelly brothers' home-run (one of their only such wins) of politically-incorrect humor. One cannot help but conclude that Diaz has gotten away with a rather successful acting career but spent very little time doing any actressin' at all.
Prognosis: For now, aside from this weekend's release of Shrek Forever After, Diaz has returned to romcoms yet again. This time, she's teaming up with another hopeful comeback kid, Tom "unhinged, lift-wearing midget" Cruise (again), for Knight and Day. In all likelihood, this joint venture will be successful and give Diaz a bit of a career boost. However, romcom queens are in plentiful supply, so I do forsee some serious downtime for Diaz in the not-too-distant future. She'd best save her millions, and it probably wouldn't hurt if she signed autographs instead of (lecturing people) insulting those who ask for them.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.