Sunday, June 04, 2006

Choose Your Sides: Jolie/Aniston and Heat/Mavericks Edition

Box Office Babes: Jolie vs. Aniston

Dear Jennifer Aniston,

Stop trying to be a movie star. You aren’t. You’ll forever be adored as America’s sweetheart by millions of people for your role on Friends, but considering that role from Friends is the only part you seem to be able play, its really not working for you. It’s okay that things aren’t working out so hot for you on the silver screen, because for every George Clooney, there’s a David Caruso. You were great as Rachel. You won an Emmy, but after seeing The Break-Up, I’m pretty certain you need to return to your Emmy/television wheelhouse. You’re a very, very attractive woman, but you’re not a movie star. You’re in movies, you date movie stars, but you’re not a movie star. You don’t, to take a word from the Grey’s finale and Dr. Bailey, “pop” on the screen. You’re just there.


That’s why, just like Brad, I choose Angelina. When you look at the box-office numbers, they’re not as distant as you would think. Angelina has had her score of failures, but at least she has a few hits where she was the lead or co-lead, with the original Tomb Raider making 131 million and Mr. and Mrs. Smith pulling in over 185. The flops are there, but so is the Oscar, and when you take a walk down Aniston Lane, there isn’t a single project where she was the star that can be classified as a hit. Sure, Along Came Polly and Bruce Almighty both were pretty big hits, but if you kept Ben Stiller and Jim Carrey in their same roles and replaced Aniston with -oh, I don’t know - anyone else, would there be a huge, or any, drop-off? Derailed, Rockstar, Rumor Has It, Picture Perfect, The Object of My Affection. For the most part, all critically panned and box-office disasters, a fatal Hollywood combination.

The lone exception? The Good Girl. Has anyone seen this? Is it actually any good? I’m not sure if it’s worthy of my Netflix queue, but before completely giving up on Aniston as a movie star, I should probably see the movie where she proves herself into the role. Still, I really didn’t like The Break-Up, and whether that’s Aniston’s fault alone or not – I don’t think it is, but she certainly didn’t help things – is unimportant in the fact that Hollywood continues to cast Aniston back out into the giant pond of box-office critique, and the majority isn’t biting yet.

(I mean, I really didn’t like The Break-Up, if only because it violated so many laws of summer movies. If they marketed it different or it was released outside the Summer Movie Boundary of Memorial Day to Labor Day, I would feel differently, but it really angered me, and after everyone who wants to has a few weeks to see it, I’ll scythe it accordingly.)

Still, a great many people will always take Jennifer over Angelina because of two main reasons. Firstly, Angelina has always been seen as a little weird while Jennifer became America’s sweetheart on Friends. People will always love Friends, and they’ll always love Jen. Secondly, Angelina is the one that “stole” Brad Pitt away from Jen, thereby making her the unlikable one in the situation. Jen is the “Hey, I could hang out with her” girl scorned by love while Angelina exists in the US Weekly-reading consciousness as the weird, man-eating chick who broke up one of America’s favorite couples.

Whatever your choice may be, there are two points that I will not argue. The first of those is that Angelina, with varied roles, the Oscar and at least two box office smashes for which she is at least 50% responsible, is much more established as a movie star. Maybe The Break-Up will be a big enough hit to propel Aniston into a series of successes, but until then, she’s not close to Jolie yet. The second item I find indisputable, despite the obvious fact that Jennifer Aniston is an extremely beautiful and sexy woman, she is not hotter than Angelina Jolie. Just stop it. She’s not. Here:

NBA Finals: Heat vs. Mavs

I’m a little bummed to see the Suns heading home, but there was no way they were beating the Mavericks with only five healthy, talented players, then an injured Raja Bell and the worthless pieces known as James Jones and Eddie House. The Blame Game for the Pistons is really exciting, as pundits try to figure out how much blame goes on Flip, how much goes on the players and how much goes on the fact Miami had the two best balers in the series – Shaq and Wade – and won like they maybe should have last year.

While I’ll be partially rooting for the Heat because I love all things Dwyane Wade and want to see Shaq go out on top, I don’t see how they can win this series barring a transcendent, unguardable performance by Flash and four or five big-time throwback performances by the Diesel. The Mavericks just have so much depth at the right positions, the Heat are going to struggle to keep up with them unless Josh Howard suffers some heinous, McGahee/Theisman-like injury that eliminates him from the series early on.

The Mavericks have a couple really big bodies to throw at Shaq (Dampier and Diop), a few long-armed defenders to bother Wade with (Howard and Daniels, who will have to get dusted off after being put in storage for the Western Finals) and a point guard combination that absolutely trumps the Williams/Payton duo Miami is rolling out there. I mean, I guess James Posey guards Dirk, but you can’t like your chances, and while you can hope the Team Cancer Rating of Van Horn and Stackhouse cancel out that of Antoine Walker (despite how well all three are playing), you’re going to need Udonis Haslem to shoot 90% with the way Avery Johnson’s defense is going to give him open shots.

The Mavericks are really good, and I think the Heat just got lucky that the other top teams in the East were either flawed and fading (Nets and Pistons) or at least another season away (Cavaliers, Bulls, Wizards, Magic). Dallas sped things up to run the Spurs off the floor, but both in crunch-time against the champs and for most of the Phoenix series, their half-court offense and defense were brilliant. They are worthy champions, with a genius coach, unstoppable superstar and 80’s-style depth.

I’ll take the Mavericks in six (or fewer), going up 3-1 before Shaq and Wade combine for 80 points in Game Five, only to get run off the floor in Game Six back in Dallas. Of course, if I’m wrong and this thing goes seven games, I wouldn’t complain.

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