Mark Wahlberg, Hollywood Pinup

Sure he’s got a slew of forgettable films, interchangeable even (do you know the difference between 2 Guns and Shooter?) but you have to admit, he’s also got some interesting blips.

Ted 2 is not an interesting blip, by the way. It’s pointlessly unamusing with all the same inane cameos as Entourage.

Palette cleanser!

markymark

Mark Wahlberg is a pretty straight-forward guy. He’s often not so much acting as working. You know, just showing up, gettin er done, home in time for spaghetti. He doesn’t always pick his projects with much judiciousness, he gets as many wrong as he gets right, but the stuff he gets right is actually pretty great. Like, two Oscar nominations great. Who would have guessed?

calvins
boogieBlip: Boogie Nights – He was pretty good in Basketball Diaries and I suppose even in Renaissance Man, but Paul Thomas Anderson put Marky Mark on the map with this ode to the porn industry. Wahlberg’s portrayal is fearless and unassuming and no one saw it coming. The entire cast is stunning but few could have anticipated how well Wahlberg would hold his own against heavyweights like Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Blip: I Heart Huckabees – I heart this movie right to death. David O. Russell gave Wahlberg a  huckabeesjuicy part in Three Kings but this movie really hits it out of the park for me. His character is such an interestingly layered mix of macho and whimsical, fevered and confused. He’s a man on the cusp but manages to play his existential crisis with sincerity and commitment.

departedBlip: The Departed – Mark Wahlberg nearly steals the whole show for me in this one. The ensemble is crazy packed with exceedingly good performances, but his angry, explosive detective really takes the cake. He stole scenes not easily stolen. He clearly relished the role of Sgt. Dignam and you’ll find yourself not able, or willing, to take your eyes off him.

Blip: The Fighter – Christian Bale is probably the acting antithesis of Mark Wahlberg, being all fightermethod and shit. Bale took home an Oscar for his part but Wahlberg gave a captivating performance as well, throwing himself into the role and taking a pay cut just to get the thing made.

Is it weird that the guy who did the worst Transformers and talks to a vulgar teddy bear is neck in neck with Damon and DiCaprio for best actor of his generation? Of course it is. But his grosses are consistent and these flares that he keeps sending up, these blips of excellent roles, well, they’re coming regularly enough that you have to wonder if they’re not just blips. What if Marky Mark is the real deal?

 

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23 thoughts on “Mark Wahlberg, Hollywood Pinup

  1. mattasshole

    I think he has a really good screen presenceHe’s dependable in most movies even when the movie itself isn’t very interesting. I like your distinction between “acting” and “working”.

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  2. seanathant

    It would have seemed so insane 1990 that Mark would end up being the most successful Wahlberg. Maybe that has helped him because he gives off a vibe that he’s having fun playing himself in every movie and is not going to let any critic ruin that fun. And really, why should he bother to be anything other than Mark Wahlberg in everything when people keep paying for it?

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  3. laura kilty

    My favourite- for creepy amazingness- is Fear. I actually really loved The Big Hit too- cheesey funny action always appeals to me. And I am very happy you mentioned Renaissance Man, I have never had anyone know what I am talking about when I’ve referenced that. Rapping Hamlet? Classic! 🙂

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  4. BroadBlogs

    “He’s often not so much acting as working. You know, just showing up, gettin er done, home in time for spaghetti.”

    Sounds about right.

    “He doesn’t always pick his projects with much judiciousness, he gets as many wrong as he gets right, but the stuff he gets right is actually pretty great. Like, two Oscar nominations great. Who would have guessed?”

    I wonder if his bad choices actually helped him to get Oscar nominations — the contrast with how bad some of his stuff is might make the good stuff look really, really good!?

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    1. Jay Post author

      That’s a very good thought. I sort of doubt that he’s up to that kind of strategizing, but maybe his amazing is very insightful!

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  5. killkenny16

    Mark Wahlberg is legitimately one of the better actors of recent years… That is, when he isn’t being Shyamalan’d or Bayified, though I suppose he was one of the (Relatively) better parts of Transformers 4.

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  6. Jordan Dodd

    Great, interesting post. He sure has made some duds though. Dunno about up there with Damon and DiCaprio, I’d have Viggo at the top of that list, but he can definitely turn in a good performance.

    Hmph this now has me itching to go watch the Departed again 😀

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  7. J.

    Good to see ol’ Wahlberg get some love. I’ve watched a few of his ‘phone in’ movies recently and they baffle me. They really do. I don’t know how many would share this opinion, but I reckon, when he shows up, he’s better than DiCaprio. Damon too actually. Always has way more character.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, I thought he overshadowed both in The Departed. I think I never really gave him serious thought before and am shocked to measure him and his movies and am astounded at how many I really really enjoy, because of him.

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  8. Anna (Film Grimoire)

    When I watched Boogie Nights for the first time this year, I was so surprised by the old Marky Mark as I always saw him as a name rather than an actor, if that makes sense. He was so amazing in Boogie Nights that it made me pay more attention to him in other films. It’s funny how that happens!

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, for sure! I think I’m just coming to terms with my own admiration and am still surprised that it’s him, the same guy!

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  9. Wendell

    I like Wahlberg. He is excellent when given the right material. I wouldn’t say he’s on pat with DiCaprio. Then again, I wouldn’t put Damon up there, either. Wahlberg’s work in Boogie Nights, The Departed, The Fighter, The Big Hit, and a few other movies is excellent. BTW, I do know the difference between 2 Guns and Shooter. The first is a fun, underrated Lethal Weapon/Bad Boys-esque action/comedy while the latter is a meh flick about a sniper and is one of his more disposable movies. I’ll gladly watch 2 Guns again, though.

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  10. Ally B. Jones

    ……Transformers though. He could be the next Mcconaughey he used to be a big joke, now he is a hot commodity. Just need to make some good movie choices then all the past wont even matter.

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