Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Movie Web Monday: Alan Tudyk

Movie Web Monday: Each article in the web, I'll look at a specific actor's roles across three good movies. The third movie will in turn tie into the first movie of the next week's actor, whose third movie will continue the pattern. I will go through actors and movies at this rate, with the following limitations in mind: every movie(or television show) invoked will be one I either own, or wish to own; no movie or actor will be invoked twice. So sit back and enjoy as you fall into the nerdery's movie web. (Oh, and I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, telling you just enough to know if you'll enjoy the movie)

Alan Tudyk: Probably Won't Survive This Post

Movie: 3:10 to Yuma (Own it. Minor spoilers ahead)

In 3:10 to Yuma, Alan Tudyk plays Doc Potter, one of the supporting townsfolk who gets wrangled into joining the posse seeking to deliver Ben Wade into the hands of justice. (Man, that sounded a bit like a line from The Tick, didn't it?) He's a minor character, but in true Alan Tudyk form, he instantly charms the audience. While digging into a shot Pinkerton named Byron McElroy (played by Peter Fonda) to prise free a bullet, Byron notices that the doctor's wall is decorated with skinless sketches of horse and dog musculature. Byron of course asks what kind of doctor Potter is, to which the only slightly shaken doctor replies wryly:

Doc Potter isn't an imposing character--neither very outspoken nor terribly useful in a fight, but he sets himself up as stubbornly moral and reliable. In this western, the protagonists stand shoulder-to-shoulder with bullies and cowards, and it's fitting that two of the bravest men in this band end up being the crippled Dan Evans and the soft-spoken doctor. And of course, he ends up dying right in the middle of a punchline.

Speaking of which...

Movie: Serenity (Own it, several times over. SPOILERS SHALL FLOW)

Oh Serenity, how you move me. Between the short-lived television show Firefly and the spin-off movie Serenity, the adventures of Malcolm Reynolds and his crew are some of my favorite fourteen hours of media. The characters are likable, charming, and quirky. The world is worn and eclectically appealing. The events are pure in their anti-classist nobility. And Wash, the ship's lovable pilot played by Alan Tudyk, is completely emblematic of Joss Whedon's beautiful tableau. He's sarcastic and pliable, stubborn and witty, and totally in love with his wife even to the point of embracing a lifestyle you definitely get the feeling he wouldn't otherwise lead. Even in the climactic ship-scramble of the movie, when his superb piloting skills shine for all to see, he reminds us how unsuited to this violent business he is with his simple calming verse:

It's a tremendous contrast to the destruction and danger all around, and it sort of highlights how out of his element he is. And the glory of that moment--and his crushing, sudden demise in mid punch-line--really encapsulates the kindness and childish devotion of his character. Wash was probably too principled and soft to be part of Serenity's crew, but he was also too loving and devoted to ever leave them. It's a really nuanced characterization for Alan Tudyk to bring out in a character we didn't even get to know for a full season.

Movie: A Knight's Tale (Rent it)

A Knight's Tale is a anachronistic teen-oriented fluffy movie about a squire who lies his way into becoming a knight's tournament champion, while picking up an allegedly hot noblewoman along the way as a spare. Now I'm not a huge fan of A Knight's Tale. But that boils down almost completely to the fault of the two main characters and the runny-eggs sloppy romance between Heath Ledger's William and Shannyn Sossamon's Jocelyn, because I love the supporting characters and antagonist. Rufus Sewell doing what he does best with a smirking, sadistic streak cloaked in the velvet of classism as Count Adhemar. And Alan Tudyk as the fiercely belligerent, barely conversant fellow conspirator in the group. He's stutteringly insecure and defensive on his own behalf and that of the group, as is made readily apparent when Chaucer joins their group and Wat decides to threaten the naked wastrel:

His delivery of the line is so energetic and committed to the moment of realizing a barely literate friend raging that it's pretty much impossible not to consider this one of the best moments of the little movie. (Alan Tudyk doesn't buy it in this one, either, so there's always that.)

Oh, and this is the third post this week, which means that's 2 out of 31 for my blog post deficit. And we're only two days into the week, too.

Movie Web Monday will continue next time with a new actor, picking up with some other prolific player from the last movie listed above.

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