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Chris Pratt Beard Look Much Better For Guardians of The Galaxy

Chris Pratt
MTV

Chris Pratt Updates: The actor’s performance in Tomorrow War isn’t only terrible. It has a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of modern action stardom.

Let’s not mince words: The Tomorrow War is the year’s most depressing film. Yes, it has the standard-issue optimistic ending in which the world is saved and a family is rebuilt, but the route there is a loud, nasty, right-wing snoozer that feels rewritten by a dozen people with opposing views on the film’s themes, story, and tone.

The film’s most serious flaw is the tenacity with which it wastes the excellent skills of its actors. The cast includes comedy veterans such as Veep’s Sam Richardson, Mary Lynn Rajskub from The Larry Sanders Show, Betty Gilpin from Glow, and sketch comedian Mike Mitchell, but only Richardson is given hilarious material, and very little of it is funny. Oscar-winner. But the biggest surprise, and in some ways the film’s biggest letdown, is Chris Pratt’s portrayal as the film’s leading man.

Soon, fate finds him as he is enlisted into a fight with aliens that takes place in the future, a conflict in which he serves under the grown-up version of his own daughter and cancels the apocalypse.

From the very first shot of the film, in which we see Forester and his squad dropped into combat in Miami, he appears perplexed, as if neither he nor his character understands what he’s doing in the picture. It’s unusual for a performance to be both dull and repulsive, but it dashes The Tomorrow War’s limited prospects of becoming mindless summer fun.

Acting in tentpole action pictures is easy to dismiss. At a tennis ball dangling from a fishing rod, which will, thanks to post-production magic, transform into one of the evil Glipglorps who has come to Earth to, say, steal the Thunder Cube in order to awaken a Space Kraken.

However, there is an art to acting in a blockbuster, and this quality is frequently most noticeable in its absence. They must change their bodies to a level of shredditude hitherto unimagined by science while still appearing normal.

We think of skilled actors as chameleons, capable of seeming naturalistic as a wide range of characters, but during much of the first half of the twentieth century, successful screen acting was nearly synonymous with typecasting. There were economic reasons for this—at the height of the studio system, actors were maintained on multi-year contracts and worked significantly more frequently than they do now.

The studios created these personas as thoroughly as they created the films that contained them, changing actors’ names, training them in everything from fencing to elocution, inventing whole-cloth biographies for them, and manipulating the press to ensure that what the public knew about their personal lives corresponded with the kinds of roles they played on screen.

Chris Pratt Looks Handsome

Chris Pratt
GQ

Forced to lose their movie theatre holdings, the studios ceased paying performers, and the more presentational and type-based style of acting in Golden Age Hollywood eventually gave way to the more naturalistic style championed by the ascendant Method actors.

Persona-driven star turns, on the other hand, never completely vanished. Blockbuster action films have been a reliable storehouse of kinds since at least the 1980s. Instead of instilling scorn, the familiarity on display in blockbuster action pictures is a strength, and while the types may have altered, the reliance on them—and almost entirely on men to play them—has stayed constant.

Talent scouts scoured everything from Broadway musicals to small-town beauty pageants to find stars in the 1930s, confident that the system could train a newbie from the ground up if necessary. Pratt’s ascension, on the other hand, is part of a growing dependence by studios looking for fresh leading males on the very type-driven worlds of professional wrestling and sitcoms.

Wherever the new star emerges, the idea appears to be the same: create a new male lead who is both super-ripped and humorous, hypermasculine, and gently approachable. You can bet that no matter how shredded Kumail Nanjiani gets, the Silicon Valley alum will lift one eyebrow while delivering some perfectly timed humor in The Eternals.

Chris Pratt seemed to grasp his type right when he shifted from Parks and Recreation to Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter “Star-Lord” Quill may be more attractive than Andy Dwyer, but he exudes the same joy, joyful energy reminiscent of a child being welcomed to sit at the grown-ups table for the first time.

He’s still not clever enough for the situations he’s in, and no matter how smooth he tries to be, he’s still a bit of a goober. Quill, for the example, is less of a man-child than a child’s notion of what a cool older brother might look like, a cross between Han Solo and Indiana Jones whose every attempt at slickness falls hilariously flat.

Because we’re never supposed to be completely convinced that the actor is the character, space is created between the two that allows both the performer and the audience to laugh along with the joke. You can even see him bring this intensity to the part of himself in an episode of Top Chef’s 10th season when he adores his (now estranged) wife Anna Faris and indulges in his own love of game and organ meat.

This Chris Pratt—the boyishly adorable one who realizes the inherent ridiculousness of what he’s doing with a wink—reappear for an eight-minute segment in The Tomorrow War. Finally, in the midst of this depressing film, someone appears to be enjoying a little fun. It isn’t going to last.

Hopefully, with multiple appearances as Peter Quill for Marvel and a film dubbed Cowboy Ninja Viking in the works, we’ll get to see more of this Chris Pratt before too long, one that registers as more than a clenched jaw pointing at a tennis ball.