Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Chris Messina Marathon

Chris Messina has been trucking through the biz for a while now and the fact that he has been just about everywhere lately is making me deliriously happy. Why? He's kind of awesome... He can balance sarcasm and sincerity like the best of them. He's that guy that makes every scene a little better and has been doing so under the radar for so many years that he seems familiar to everyone. He easily transitions between neurotic and easygoing. Plus he's Italian and a New Yorker and he can dance, which is exploited in several of his roles. Here are some of my favorite picks featuring the underrated, short, Italian (I bet I know one of his favorite movies), Chris Messina.

Here, your favorite supporting player takes the leading man slot. In The Giant Mechanical Man he plays a street performer opposite Pam Jenna Fischer. The two play people who are a little lost and find themselves and each other at the same time. It's delightfully charming in a quiet, honest way and Messina's dance moves and old timey preferences make for a character as interesting as the real man. Plus, for all you Gilmore Girls fans, Kirk makes a brief appearance.

Remember that cute, sane, amazing guy that Amy Adams was married to in Julie & Julia? Yep, Chris Messina. He basically spent the movie trying to keep Amy Adams from blowing a gasket and just being a reasonable human being... which in a movie about Julia Child and someone who is obsessed with her, is kind of a necessity. Plus, any opportunity to watch Stanley Tucci steal scenes should be taken.. so what are you doing just standing there, take it!

Celeste & Jesse Forever was one of my favorite roles of his to date. Instead of playing second fiddle (well, I mean, I guess he kind of did, to this guy, but you get the picture), he got to woo Rashida Jones with his awkward and misplaced, but cute humor and sweet dance moves. He also brought a little sanity into the film, a role which he fills out wonderfully.

In Ruby Sparks, a funny but thoughtful look at relationships and objectivity, Messina plays brother to Paul Dano's author who creates his dream girl Ruby out of thin air. Not necessarily giving the most moral advice, but generally being his usual understatedly funny self, Messina's addition to this movie is a welcome break from an outlandish, but insightful (about relationships and how we treat the people we love by weighing them down with expectations) premise. The worst part about this movie is that they don't let Messina dance.

He's one of the many top notch supporting players in my favorite movie from last year, and while I was watching Argo, it was one of those things where whenever he turned up it just made me happy. The movie is so ridiculously stellar that you should watch it for whatever reason, but if Chris Messina (or Bryan Cranston, or John Goodman, or Victor Garber, or Alan Arkin or Coach Taylor) gives you a bit more incentive, then so be it! It is a film that walks a very thin line between comedy and fraught tension, but never becomes a joke and always maintains the drama of the situation.

I know there are mixed feelings towards this show from Sorkin fans and people brought up on The West Wing, but I wasn't one of those people so I've just been sitting back and enjoying it, flaws and preaching and all. I might hate Reese Lansing if it wasn't for Messina in The Newsroom. However, he plays Reese as a character doing his job and wanting to do it well. By the end of the second season you even kind of like him! Plus, if it were real life, this character would probably be able to make a spectacular amount of money if it wasn't for the band of do-gooders on their crusade within his company, so you can kind of understand where he's coming from, even if he's a bit of a sell-out.

Here we are. This is my favorite. The Mindy Project is one of my favorite shows and has been since the second half of its first season and this whole second season have been amazing. Messina plays every note perfectly as Danny Castellano. He has awesome chemistry with Mindy Kaling, whether they're being friends, pissing each other off like crazy, or sharing a moment of confidence with each other. His hilarious insecurities, forced manliness, and genuine kindness (that he barely lets seep through) make for a great character and the show puts him in so many crazy situations that it's impossible not to love him and laugh at him.. a lot.

Happy Hunger Games marathoning everyone! More importantly, if you're celebrating it, Happy Thanksgiving and I wish you well!

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