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Jake Johnson is (almost) the antidote to bloated blockbusters

June 9th, 2017

FILM SCHOOL REJECTS – The professional grump has made a name for himself by undermining mediocre (or worse) tentpoles.

The verdict is in: The Mummy is a total mess. Maybe 10% of it being any fun. Jake Johnson plays sidekick Chris Vail in a tiny amount of the film, having a great and very strange rapport with Tom Cruise that seems lifted straight from David Naughton and Griffin Dunne’s ball-busting in An American Werewolf in London. The actor was also, somehow, the best part of Jurassic World, where he plays an incredulous IT guy named Lowery. Neither part was large enough and neither movie was any good. You do the math. But is this a trend or just a once-repeated phenomenon?

Johnson is perhaps most well-known for his lead role in the TV comedy New Girl as, well, basically the same sad sack he plays in most of his movies. But recently, he’s really broken out as an indie leading man in the movies Drinking Buddies and Win It All. He’s an everyman, but not like Tom Hanks is an everyman. He’s angry and frustrated and petty, not as idealized as Hanks’s soft boyishness. This is the guy whose brand of grumpy has completely saturated his professional being to the point that he voiced Grumpy Smurf in Smurfs: The Lost Village. But what people don’t appreciate enough about Johnson is that he’s the perfectly frustrated comic character actor to help bloated blockbusters.

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