Dennis Quaid's a guy to keep your eye on
Well, to be honest, there haven't been a whole lot of movies coming out recently that I was interested in, so I've had to rely on reviewing older movies. And as fun as it is to rag on some of them, I'm sure none of you were dying to know what I thought of Congo.
There are a few coming up that really pique my interest, but for now, I've decided instead to talk about a specific actor who I've liked for years and a handful of his movies.
I've been a fan of Dennis Quaid for as long as I can remember. That doesn't mean I love every movie he's been in. But I always seem to like him whenever I see him.
The Cocky Dude
I don't remember which movie I first saw Quaid in, but I grew up loving Enemy Mine and InnerSpace. (I've already written an entire hub about my oppinion of Enemy Mine if you're interested.)
Now, it doesn't take a genius to recognize that there's a big difference between Enemy Mineand InnerSpace. They're both Sci-Fi, but one is a drama about two mortal enemies who have to rely on each other to survive, and one is a comedic version of Fantastic Voyage co-starring Martin Short.
But Quaid is still classic Quaid.
He's cocky and sure of himself. He's hot-headed and charming. In InnerSpace, this is used for comedic effect. In Enemy Mine, it's a way to show how his character copes and evolves in response to the extreme circumstances he's put through.
That same character is used very well in Undercover Blues. And I absolutely love him in that one as well.
For instance, when he and Kathleen Turner are with their baby, someone asks about the gender of the baby and Quaid has the following exchange:
"Oh, cute baby! Boy or girl?"
Quaid: "Gosh, I hope so!"
My family still laughs about that and we continue to use that line whenever one of our ranks has a new baby.
Quaid has a charming way of pulling out those one liners that plays out as cocky but without making you hate him for it. David Spade he's not.
Now, this is not necessarily a character that you immediately think of when you think of Dennis Quaid. But he's been pulled out on a few instances:
Vantage Point, DragonHeart, Enemy Mine, Undercover Blues, and even Frequency.
Now, in Undercover Blues, even when he's in "fighter" mode, it's still much more "cocky dude" than anything else, but as a secret agent, it's expected that he'd fight from time to time. But what about the others?
DragonHeart isn't wonderful. Mostly because you can tell that it was trying to be something much more than it ended up being. If they'd simply aimed at being what it is and having fun with it, that would have helped out a great deal.
But still, I just love Quaid. Now, he's also playing a bit of his "cocky dude" persona here from time to time, as a roaming knight who bilks towns by claiming to kill a dragon he's already in cahoots with, but there's definitely a fighter in the mix.
Now, just because I like Quaid doesn't mean I agree with everything he does in the movie. He tries out, for instance, some sort of Scottish-ish accent for the first few minutes but soon drops it.
But when it comes to gritting his jaw, doing what needs to be done and fighting, Quaid performs excellently. I actually feel for him in the moment where he has to decide whether to kill Draco to stop King Einon, his former protege, or to let them both live and suffer the consequences.
Or there's Vantage Point. Admittedly, the experimental, non-linnear story telling of the movie can wear on the nerves of some, but I actually enjoy it. And again, Dennis Quaid's character is able to clench his jaw and get done what needs to be done.
The Father Figure
Now, arguably, this is the role that he's most suited for in these last few years. But Vantage Point only came out three years ago so he's still got toughness in him.
Movies where this character show through include:
In Good Company, The Rookie, Yours, Mine and Ours, 1998's The Parent Trap and obviously, Frequency.
The movies varry in quality and how well they were received, but again, I just have to love Quaid.
And the one here I'd like to talk about most is Frequency.
I saw this one in the theater with my brother. I had fun and I loved the speculative fiction aspect of being able to communicate in the past with a father who has been dead for years from the main character's perspective. The movie had heart and a mind.
I got it for my brother that Christmas and we decided to show it to the rest of the family. I figured they'd enjoy it, but the reaction that surprised me the most was my mother. At the end, she was just bawling.
The climax of the movie has action, some well done special effects, and a great "speculative fiction" payoff to the whole story. When Dennis Quaid shows up with the shotgun and saves his son, it's a stand-up-and-cheer moment. Then the whole movie ends with a baseball scene. Nice and touching, but I wasn't watching it through the eyes of a parent.
The idea that a son would have the opportunity to save both his father and his mother in the past, only to have his father show up at a critical time to save his son in return? Yeah, that's a great moment.
I see now what she was seeing, but still being single, my perspective hadn't twigged to that without help.
Become a fan of Dennis Quaid yourself
But that's one of the things I think I really like about Dennis Quaid. He doesn't play characters, he plays people. They're real in the movie because that's just what he does.
When I was a kid, I loved Enemy Mine for the Sci-Fi aspects of the movie. There were creatures. There was action. But there were also people. And as I grew up, I began to see more and more the people within the story and I came to absolutely love them.
When an actor plays a character rather than a person, there's little depth to the role. That's not to say it can't be fun to watch. And that isn't to say that Quaid has never played someone with little depth. But the characters that stick with me are the ones that I've learned to see a little differently every time I watch the movie, and a little more fully as the years go by.
Now, There are plenty of other actors I could talk about, and I just may do more of these in the future.
I just had to get this off my chest and send out a simple "good job" to a great actor.