' ' Cinema Romantico: Kevin Corrigan: Even As a Star, Still In Support

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kevin Corrigan: Even As a Star, Still In Support

Of the 1997 film “Kicked in the Head” the late great Roger Ebert wrote it’s “one of those movies where you wish the story was about the supporting characters.” That in and of itself isn’t necessarily noteworthy. There are a lot of films you wish were about the supporting characters, as the quote implies. Why it’s of particular interest to us, however, is because of “Kicked in the Head’s” leading man – namely, Kevin Corrigan. If Ebert wanted the story to be solely about the supporting characters then that would imply they had more affability than Corrigan’s main character. But then, that’s the whole deal with Corrigan, his lack of affability. He’s the oddball, the unconventional duckling, less Johnny Cash than Luther Perkins with a Fender Esquire that doesn’t really work right.

I’ve said many times before that if I ran Hollywood then Kevin Corrigan would be Brad Pitt. It’s to suggest that in a Hollywood under my no doubt ludicrous command someone as eccentric as Mr. Corrigan could be both a heartthrob and a top-billed star. But then, as Ebert seemed to suggest, Corrigan wasn’t built to be a leading man. And really, neither was Brad Pitt. Oh, Brad Pitt was born to be a leading man; yes, of course, obviously. But despite his obligatory Movie Star Roles, he’s found a truer niche for himself as a wonky supporting guy, like the fitness wackadoo in “Burn After Reading” or the Stetson-wearing philosophizer in “The Counselor” or even all the way back to “12 Monkeys” where his mental case is just a red herring. He so often gets top billing and a prominent place on the poster, yet he functions more effectively on the periphery, even in something like as gargantuan as the “Ocean’s” movies, letting Clooney sit in the throne while consuming meatball sandwiches off to the side.

Kevin Corrigan is all off to the side. That’s why he could never be the Leo part in “The Departed”; he could only ever be “the jerk off fucking cousin.” In “The Slums of Beverly Hills” he’s his own idiosyncratic version of The Boy Next Door, the slacker John Truett to Natasha Lyonne’s Esther Smith. That’s why there was something so grandly poetic in “Scotland, PA”, the modern day re-telling of Macbeth, in which he was tasked with playing modernized Banquo. “Whatever your highness commands me to do, it is always my duty to do it.” He takes instructions from the leading man and then takes the shiv.

All this is why the recently released “Results” suggests something of a Corrigan-ish coronation, like it’s the role to which the litany of IMDb stepping stones has been building. He is, in essence, finally a leading man. That’s the tack taken by Mark Olsen in his piece for the L.A. Times, writing “Kevin Corrigan gets ‘Results’ with a winning lead rom-com role.” And, yes, in some ways, he is the leading man. His character, Danny, incites the action. Wheezy and red-faced, he enters a gym on something of a whim in order to get in shape. He develops eyes for his comely personal trainer (Cobie Smulders). But the personal trainer might actually like her boss (Guy Pearce). And while it comes on like a rom-com, angled like a love triangle, it resists that neat packaging, much like Danny ultimately resists the ethos of exercise. “You and I have different ideas of what constitutes healthy,” he says.

That line might also aptly summarize Corrigan’s own viewpoint of what constitutes a leading man. After all, “Results”, as Olsen writes, “reveals itself to be a rom-com almost like a magic trick, handing off its focus from Corrigan's Danny to Pearce's Trevor somewhere along the way.” In other words, a piece centered around Corrigan finally earning and running with a leading role admits that eventually that leading role cedes center stage to the real leading role – the leading role played by Guy Pearce at his physical peak, chiseled and aerobicized to perfection. Corrigan just kinda stays sorta flabby.

And at film’s end, Pearce gets a dance with Smulders while Corrigan dances by himself off to the side.


*jaime said...

Have you listened to Kevin on the WTF Podcast? If not, please remedy the situation: http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast

After listening, you'll always smile when you see tuxedo pants for the rest of your life. I guarantee this.

Nick Prigge said...

Oh, I listened. Absolutely. I was more excited for that episode than the Obama one.

Derek Armstrong said...

I just so happened to have just watched Mr. Corrigan in Wild Canaries last night. Yeah, you can skip that one.

Unfortunately, though I didn't like the movie in general -- and there's a good dose of Cold Weather in it, so you probably will -- I specifically thought that Corrigan was not very good in it.

But that's the exception. I usually gravitate to him. And to underscore your point, I first became aware of him in Walking & Talking, when Catherine Keener derisively refers to him as "the ugly guy."

You keep at it, Ugly Guy.

Nick Prigge said...

I actually have seen Wild Canaries. Reviewed it for Slant Magazine. I liked it, though I though it borrowed almost too liberally from Manhattan Murder Mystery and was left wishing, as I so often am, that Corrigan had more to do. http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/wild-canaries

I thought about including Walking & Talking too because you're right - when you're literally referred to as "ugly guy" you're not probably conventional leading man material.