So, I went to see Death at a Funeral This Weekend. I can’t say it was a good decision. In particular, Danny Glover, (pardon my language) have some fucking respect for yourself. Good Lord. But it did validate a theory I’ve been formulating for a while about James Marsden. Dude is delicious. But he’s also a much better actors when he’s playing, well, a little off. Let’s take, for example, his sort of dour and depressing turns as Cyclops in the X-Men movies:
Dude was so paralyzed alternately by jealousy and grief that he was impossible to watch. Some of that was just the part — there wasn’t much Marsden was allowed to do but look supremely pretty and upset. But he still didn’t show an enormous amount of range in the role: when Phoenix blew him away in The Last Stand, it was hard to even notice that he was gone.On the other hand, consider his role in Hairspray. It’s a supporting part. But as an integrationist dance-show host with a slightly maniacal grin plastered across his face, Marsden made much more of a mark than he did as Cyclops:
Similarly, he’s utterly dull as the slightly devious swain in 27 Dresses:
But playing a prince who is out of his element and out of his damn mind in Enchanted, he’s hilarious, loose, engaging:
And in the midst of all the ridiculousness in Death at a Funeral, as Zoe Saldana’s nervous fiancee, Marsden has far more fun than anyone else in the movie playing a guy under the influence of a designer drug. A scene of him cuddling with a bunch of garden statues is both sweet and supremely weird. It was probably the most unforced laugh in the movie. I really hope Marsden does more comedy: I Hop, which stars Russell Brand as an Easter Bunny who gets hit by a car sounds like a risk with potential. And I’ll probably see him in the remake of Straw Dogs. But dude has a way with the laughs underneath those insane good looks. It’ll serve him long after they go.