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Competence

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"Competence"

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One of the things that I think is very interesting about Jason Bateman’s career (and I will stipulate that I haven’t seen Arrested Development) is that the characters he plays are frequently only slightly above average. He’s the head of a company in Up In the Air, but not a particularly famous or important company. He’s the head of a small business in Extract. He’s an agent, but a hustling one, in Hancock. He’s doing fine, but isn’t much of a person in the State of Play remake. He’s professionally successful, but unsatisfied in Juno. I note this because in this day and age of moviemaking, it’s rare that an actor will get this much work without playing someone exceptional at some point, be he CEO, or professional athlete, or famous lawyer, or some sort of fictional actor, or badass-about-town. I think the fact that Bateman’s picked characters who aren’t consumed by their exceptionalness actually means that he takes roles where there’s more to want, and more to achieve. Or where jobs don’t matter at all, as they don’t seem to for him in The Switch:

It’s unusual, and actually kind of nice to have a movie where the dude is solely focused on the relationship, or in this case, relationships. I don’t think this’ll be anything extraordinary, but it certainly looks like it might be reasonably pleasant. And it exists in the realm of adults who have made compromises, where Bateman’s done fine work before. At least in this one, he won’t be trying to have an affair with a teenaged surrogate, so I find his character more likable and relatable already, and I already feel a certain basic warmth towards the guy even when he’s in sleaze mode!

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