I Would Like to Focus on my Acting, Mr. Weathers

This is the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.

While we all sit around waiting for the Arrested Development movie that will never be made, let’s take a look at the post-Arrested careers of the show’s main cast.

Who’s surviving the inevitable hangover? And who’s most likely to soon be appearing in infomercials for the Cornballer? Let’s find out, shall we?

Last night, while discussing the sub-mediocre “Extract” with Musky Canadian Scent and Stephen Malkmus Motherfucker, we noted that Jason Bateman seems to have made a lot of terrible movies since Arrested Development departed this mortal coil.

So I wondered if that perception was based on fact, or if a couple duds have cast a pall over Bateman’s entire résumé. Bateman, and the entire cast, have a difficult task in shaping their post-Arrested careers. While the show gave all the actors a boost in recognition and respect, it also presented them with typecasting issues.

The roles on Arrested Development were so specific, finely tuned and iconic that’s it been hard for some of the actors to escape the shadows of their Bluth characters.

Jason Bateman
Justine’s brother parlayed his success on the sitcom into a bevy of leading roles in major films, as well as some supporting roles and cameos. The leading roles have been disappointing, to say the least. “Extract” is a significantly less funny version of “Office Space,” and Bateman essentially plays Michael Bluth. “Couples Retreat” is one of the most depressing, violently unfunny comedies ever made, and Bateman essentially plays Michael Bluth. His performances weren’t bad in either film, but they certainly weren’t enough to redeem terrible material.

While Bateman has yet to show he can carry a film on his back (see also: “The Switch”), he has managed to maintain his credibility with his choices of smaller roles. He was great as a sleazeball in “Juno,” in a role that actually called for him to stretch a little. He was also a bright spot in “Hancock,” “Up in the Air,” and “The Invention of Lying,” elevating decent-not-great films with his deadpan delivery.

The near future looks promising: Bateman has the lead in “Paul,” directed by Greg Mattola (“Superbad,” “Adventureland”) from a script co-written by Simon Pegg. And Landry’s in it! There’s still time to turn this ship around.

Post-Arrested grade: B-

Michael Cera
Clearly the cast member who’s achieved the most success in Arrested’s wake, Cera is something resembling a bankable movie star. Unfortunately, he’s achieved that status by playing the patented Michael Cera role over and over. Cera’s played Cera in movies great (“Superbad”) and dreadful (“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”). If he has any range at all, he’s keeping it a secret.

Even more unfortunately, none of the slightly tweaked versions of George-Michael Bluth have been as likable as the original. George-Michael had a sweetness at this core that’s been slowly replaced by liquid irony in subsequent roles. Maybe the rest of the Bluths were so hateful that George-Michael’s inherent innocence shone more brightly.

Cera needs to find a way to change things up soon, or he won’t be a movie star for long. Oddly, he doesn’t appear to have any films set for release anytime soon. Regardless, he deserves credit for leveraging his apparently limited talents into a bigger, better career than anyone would have guessed when AD premiered. And we’ll also award Cera bonus points for appearing in an impressive array of funny online shorts, like Drunk History.

Post-Arrested grade: B+

Will Arnett
He’s made a huge mistake. Or a series of them.

GOB was AD’s breakout character, and Arnett seemed poised to achieve, if not a Jim Carrey level of comedy stardom, perhaps an Owen Wilson level. It hasn’t really worked out that way. Arnett’s leap to films got off to a rough start with “Let’s Go to Prison,” and he never really recovered. Like Cera, he’s proven to be a bit of a one-trick pony. And that trick can be hilarious in the right context (30 Rock, “Blades of Glory”) or grating when not used well (Parks and Recreation, Sit Down Shut Up).

Arnett’s short-term future may well be decided by Running Wilde, which matches him back up with AD creator Mitch Hurwitz. Early buzz seems to be, “Just OK, but has potential.” No matter what, Arnett will also make a living with voiceover work.

Post-Arrested grade: C (to be revisited after Running Wilde airs)

David Cross
Cross’s career seems to have not been impacted much by Arrested Development, perhaps because he already had a list of credits before appearing on the show, and perhaps because his character seemed quite separate from Cross’s normal persona. It’s hard to think of Will Arnett without associating him with GOB. The same isn’t necessarily true of Cross and Dr. Tobias Fünke.

After AD died, Cross continued to build a varied, inconsistent oeuvre, much as he had before joining the show. He’s alternated blatant money grabs (“Alvin and the Chipmunks”) with his typically strong stand-up work, and a so-so comedy book. He’ll appear with Arnett in Running Wilde; and no matter what, we’ll always have the Mr. Show DVDs.

Post-Arrested grade: B

Portia de Rossi
De Rossi has stuck to television, as her major roles since AD have been limited to a long-term guest spot on Nip/Tuck, and the lead on the well-received but little-watched Better Off Ted. Her stature seems exactly what it was before Arrested, no more, no less.

Post-Arrested grade: C

Tony Hale
The once and future Buster has pieced together perhaps the most interesting career of any of AD’s cast, comprised largely of guest spots and supporting roles. Hale has brightened projects as disparate as “Stranger Than Fiction,” ER, “The Informant!,” Chuck, Community and “Justified,” as well as any number of failed pilots. Hale appears content to be a character actor, a sidekick, and he’s good at what he does.

Post-Arrested grade: B

Alia Shawkat
I am most disappointed in Shawkat’s career arc. She was such a unique presence on TV as Maebe, but hasn’t been able to translate that into a notable career thus far. She’s had a few rote guest spots on other TV series (Veronica Mars, The Starter Wife), and small roles in a few minor films (“Whip It”). Sadly, that’s about it. She seems to be the forgotten AD cast member.

Still just 21, there’s plenty of time for Shawkat to turn it around, and at least she’s working on a consistent basis.

Post-Arrested grade: C-

Jeffrey Tambor
Tambor was supposed to only appear in AD’s pilot episode but proved so crucial that he became a permanent cast member. He was already beloved at the time, thanks largely to The Larry Sanders Show. Since AD, he’s basically appeared in any film or TV show that will have him, racking up 34 separate credits in the last four years.

Those credits don’t include a whole lot of memorable material, and are marred by the hackneyed sitcoms Twenty Good Years (billed as a pairing of the greats, with John Lithgow) and Welcome to the Captain. His small role in “The Hangover” brought Tambor the most mainstream success, and his small role in “Archer” the most creative success.

Post-Arrested grade: C

Jessica Walter
What to make of Walter’s role on the CW’s 90210, which brought us the incongruous mixture of Beverly Hills 90210, Arrested Development, and The Wire, thanks to the presence of Tristan Wilds. Probably the less said about it, the better, other than the fact that Walter’s Lucillian grandmother was the best part of a very bad show.

If she needed redemption, Walter found it with her voiceover work on “Archer,” where she plays yet another overbearing mother, though a murderous, unhinged version.

Post-Arrested grade: B

So who would benefit the most if the mythical Arrested Development movie actually happened? Probably Arnett, who could remind the world how funny he can be. By “the world,” I mean the .00000001% of the world who would actually see an Arrested Development movie.

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1 Comment

Filed under Film Has AIDS, Television Has AIDS, The Dilemma

One response to “I Would Like to Focus on my Acting, Mr. Weathers

  1. Pingback: I Would Like to Focus on my Acting, Mr. Weathers « Pop Culture Has … | Watch Arrested Development Episodes Online

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