At Some Point We Must Ask Ourselves, "Is It Me?"
The Hollywood Reporter, consummate beacon of newsiness, has a graph detailing Jennifer Aniston's successes and losses. The photo detailing each point is a co-star in each film. This graph would imply that it's the co-star's fault the film failed.
Now I don't want to quibble with the publisher of such important news pieces as "That Time Lea Michele Was Inconvenienced In Traffic," but I am hard-pressed to blame the co-stars for Jennifer Aniston's failures. The problem might just be Jennifer Aniston.
At this point, Aniston's career has officially consisted of a high lasting from 1994 to 2004 and a low consisting of every year since. Since taking off her Rachel Green apron, she's been in two movies that made money -- The Break Up, which came during a high in the career of Vince Vaughn following Wedding Crashers, and Marley and Me, which was about a dead dog, and people fucking love dead dogs.
This would make her no different than any other actor, except she has been positioned as an Oprah Lady, a figure of empowerment and chest beating and eating and praying and loving and looking FABULOUS at 40 and she didn't even need Brad and he can have his whore because she doesn't even CARE. So shouldn't she be doing better?
Aniston's career has been tarnished by three separate problems: 1) her constant placement as a tabloid figure, 2) her choices in work, and 3) the one that will get me yelled at by the Google people, so we'll get to it in a minute.
Since divorcing Brad Pitt in 2005, meaning they've now been divorced longer than they were married, the Angie vs. Jen debate has yet to cease in tabloid popularity. Unfortunately for Aniston, only a small chunk of people (my mom and Star Magazine included) really continue to view Jolie as the blood-wearing heroin addict. Sure, people will pick up those scandal rags with "Angie's kids hate her! Brad calling Jen for advice/bland phone sex!" but few people really seem to trust it as fact. More unfortunately, many more people continue to view Aniston as the sad cat lady victim, which is really wearing thin after five years of being divorced.
That part might not be her doing. It might be, because frankly who knows what comes from her publicists and what comes from bored editorial interns at Life & Style, but it probably isn't. What is her doing is her obviously timed series of "hot new romances" that occur during the publicity boom of each film. CNN called her on it last time, plus her current co-star is married, so she is noticeably single during promotion for The Switch.
Also her fault? Her film choices. Sugar, at some point, you need to try something new. Julia Roberts made a number of attempts at other genres before running open-armed back into the safety of a-man-will-make-me-whole. Jennifer tried it twice in recent years, once with The Good Girl (Critical Success!) and once with Derailed (Not So Much). Jennifer seems desperately unwilling to be unlikeable, which seems to further the notion that she's desperate to be liked.
Which cannot make the fact that, while she has her Oprah-y devotees, many of us find her just kind of pathetic. A less forgiveable Jessica Simpson. I mean, Simpson is most likely mentally incapable of knowing that people laugh at her, which makes her kind of sweet. Jenny From The Perk has no excuse. Which leads me to that third, Aniston-fan rage inducing point: She is perfectly comfortable being hair and a body.
Her films fail. Her love life fails. Pictures like this get released to the pointing and laughter of the internet. All she has is nice hair, constantly tweaked nipples, a series of well-timed boyfriends and a rockin' bod. She continues to do films that show these elements and no additional substance or presence of talent. In The Bounty Hunter her hair and nipples fight with Gerard Butler. In Love Happens her hair and nipples woo a widowed Aaron Eckhart. And so on and so on. She continues to do this on a loop, which means she is either terrified to try something different, or she accepts that this is her lot. Maybe it's both.
Maybe The Switch will be different. But if it isn't, it's damn sure not Jason Bateman who will suffer for it.