Just Whom Is Kevin James?
This, ladies and gentleman, is KEVIN JAMES
Okay, you be the judge. Is this a . . .
hub? A off-the-cuff. On-a-lark story? Or a plain. Down-right honest look at Kevin James, one of the most-popular entertainers of modern-history? I really don't know myself what this is. I would like to think that this is a pretty good job of a personal review of Kevin James, actor, and what, if any, category he fits. That is the job at hand, friends.
We all know Kevin James. Those of us who longed for each week's installment of "King of Queens," that made James a household word. This show wasn't your typical blockbuster of a show. Factually, it was an average premise about an average family, the Heffernans, Doug (Kevin James) and Carrie (Leah Remini) and Carrie's widower father, "Arthur," played by Hollywood legend, Jerry Stiller, who just happens to be Ben "There's Something About Mary" Stiller.
The show is cast in Brooklyn. Doug is employed by International Parcel Service, a clear symbol of real parcel delivery service, UPS, but it works. Flawlessly. Doug loves to drive his truck he says on one show where the plot was to let Doug improve himself, an idea by his loving wife, Carrie. Of course, this like all the show's plots, backfires. Crashes and burns leaving Doug and Carrie back to 'square one,' fighting and scratching to 'make it,' as a depressed Carrie laments in one show due to her and Doug not having the life she thought she would have when she married Doug. Typical plot. Nothing fancy.
But that still doesn't answer my burning-question about Kevin James. Just who is Kevin James? Go on. Burst the suspense. Pin the balloon already. I've had it with guessing from time to time. Movie to movie just who James really is. I'm at wit's end. And shouldn't be. May I explain my plight to you? Okay. Take Cary Grant for instance. Grant was what he was, an excellent, multi-talented actor with varied skills on film and stage. Grant, when his name was mentioned in Variety or any Hollywood-publication, the first word that popped into the reader's mind was, "actor." Can you do that with Kevin James? I cannot. And if you can, you are a deeper, more-perceptive person than I.
King of Queens, James' break-out show, aired in 1998 and stayed on moderate-to-near-top ratings until 2007. In the show, it was easy sometimes to actually conceive, on my worst day, that James was actually a parcel truck delivery driver. And that Carrie was his self-serving, ambitious wife. The role of "Arthur," by Jerry Stiller was a masterpiece performance each week. And I will give James the benefit of the doubt, he did, on occasion, have me in the palm of his hand with his "acrobatic-acting" skills--that means he is able to jump from one comedy thought to the other without missing a cue and with somewhat-dramatic areas, he stalls and chokes a bit, but keeps the show going. I guess Kevin James is a television actor.
But what about his movies? With names to create a cinema-hunger in all of us. Film names such as: "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," "Zookeeper," "Grown Ups," and "Stitch," with Will Smith. Okay. What about these films? I'm still searching for Kevin James, film actor. But the only person I find is Kevin James, television actor who has tried hard to make the transition from television to film without us seeing his sweat. What I mean is, and I mean no disrespect, if you ever participate in any form of community theatre, the first thing the play you are cast in will have a director whose first direction to you will be, "make me and the audience believe that YOU ARE 'Bobby, The Scarecrow,'" if that's the role you landed. James has not convinced me that he was Paul Blart, in Mall Cop, or any of the key-roles in his other movies. I hate to be blunt, but all I see and hear is James letting memorized scripts come from his lips and not convincing me that he is the character in the scene.
That, my friends, is not worth the cost of a premiere movie ticket. Even if you are personal friends with Adam Sandler, David Spade and Collin Quinn. Oh yes, Rob Schneider too.
My point? Have you ever and I mean ever, and be honest with yourself first, then me, had the unbridled pleasure of watching a Robert Dinaro film and be swept-away with his character? I mean swept down stream with no canoe or paddle. Dinaro, to me, rocks at any role he chooses. In his case, the role doesn't choose Dinaro, instead he chooses the role.
When was the last time Kevin James swept you away with whatever character the movie company chose for him? I didn't hear you. Can you actually tell me the differences in James' roles in "Zoo keeper," "Grown Ups," "Paul Blart," and "Stitch?" Does James do a lot of work in developing his own, brand-name character who might be granted a memorable sequel? Does Kevin James convince you that he is not James, but a character named, Paul Blart? All I viewed was Kevin James "talking" some guy named Blart's lines from script. I am sorry, but that is what it is.
And his stand-up routine is no different. Not that in this venue one has to actually recreate his or herself into a completely-different character to be funny although many stand-up pro's do. And James just bounces onto stage, yells (in Doug Heffernan fashion), "Ssss-uuu--ppp," and the humor-edged one-liners and observations begin to cover an hour and half. Still no real comedy. I would pay to see one of James' King of Queens co-stars, Gary Valentine, in his stand-up shows. Valentine actually works at doing accompanying voices to make his comedy observations funny. I like that.
Still, when all is said and done. And the last ticket stub has been swept away by a theater janitor named, "Bill," who secretly longs for his big break in show business, Kevin James is still Kevin James. Hard-working? Yes. Popular? Yes. Memorable? No.
But we still have time.