' ' Cinema Romantico: Las(t) Vegas: Steenburgen City

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Las(t) Vegas: Steenburgen City

The first time I saw the trailer for “Last Vegas” I just shook my head and quickly moved on, figuring I’d never think about it again. Until I noticed in the credits that Mary Steenburgen would be playing a role (she, of course, is not really allowed to be featured in the trailer because, like, duh, she’s a woman and this is Hollywood).

I love Mary Steenburgen. I do. Woman’s Got Game. I’ve seen all manner of Steenburgen films, and I’m not just talking about “Melvin and Howard” and “Philadelphia.” I’m talking about the totally boss “Sunshine State” and “Casa de los Babys” and “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School” and “The Open Road” and “In The Electric Mist”. “Dirty Girl” is #2 right now in my Netflix queue (which I want to see for Juno Temple as much as Mary Steenburgen, but still). Okay, I haven’t seen “Did You Hear About The Morgans?”, but I’m just waiting for it to pop up on TBS one Sunday morning when I’m hungover (kinda like how I saw “The Proposal” after having my wisdom teeth removed). And if none of these are technically/officially “Mary Steenburgen Films”, and they aren’t, well, hey, she’s in ‘em, and she rocks ‘em all.

Nearly a month ago on this very blog I wrote: “Mary Steenburgen – mark my words – is going to steal ‘Last Vegas’ right out from under all those imposters.” Those imposters being Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Kline, and Morgan Freeman (who aren’t really imposters, but you know what I meant). Well, “Last Vegas” opens this weekend, and so I checked out a few reviews to gauge Steenburgen’s work in preparation for my inevitable home video viewing. Guess what?!

Chris Packham of the Village Voice writes: “The film’s hidden asset is the luminous Mary Steenburgen.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club writes: “Billy starts falling for a lounge singer his own age (Mary Steenburgen) and having doubts about his impending marriage. Steenburgen is appropriately alluring in the role, and wasting her performance on a second-rate love triangle in a third-rate geezer comedy is downright criminal.”

Scott Foundas of Variety writes: “The singer, Diana (Mary Steenburgen), is also ‘of a certain age’ and has been around the block a few times, but unlike her male counterparts in “Last Vegas,” she’s been written as more than a one-dimensional type, and she’s played by the marvelous Steenburgen with a richness that goes even beyond what’s on the page. She’s an oasis of real, grown-up emotion in a movie that often feels more sophomoric (and a lot less funny) than the concurrent ‘Bad Grandpa.’” He continues: “The rest of the movie rarely if ever rises to Steenburgen’s level.”

Todd McCarthy of Hollywood Reporter writes: “And then there's Steenburgen's Diana. Her musical gifts draw you in first but her self-deprecating humor, wisdom of the ways of the world and fundamental optimism make her a keeper and deserving of heated competition among men. In her best film role in years, the actress delivers a fully realized character from the outset and deepens it into someone you really care about even in an essentially comic context.”

And oh yeah, before I forget, my homey Dann Gire at the Daily Herald out there in Arlington Heights succinctly states: "Steenburgen trumps quartet of aging stars in Sin City comedy."

Do you think, Hollywood – DO you, Hollywood? DO you think?! – that maybe, just maybe, it might be time to shuffle all those dudes aside and give Steenburgen her own movie?


Derek Armstrong said...

Shouldn't John Travolta and Robin Williams be in this movie?

The interesting thing to me about Steenburgen is that in addition to her always giving fully-realized performances that you so rightly praise, I also feel like she has gotten more attractive as she's gotten older. Maybe that is, sadly, the only reason we're still seeing her appear at all. Own movie? Pipe dream I'm afraid ...

Nick Prigge said...

Yeah. It is a pipe dream. Sadly. Older women in Hollywood, no matter how beautiful and classy and talented, are left to fend for scraps. Alas.