The Rachel Effect

5 Oct
When Rachel McAdams isn't making, or remaking, the same movie, she's stretching herself by appearing in little seen films, such as Terrence Malick's To the Wonder (co-starring Ben Affleck) and Brian de Palma's Passion (with Noomi Rapace).

When Rachel McAdams isn’t making, or remaking, the same movie, she’s stretching herself by appearing in little seen films by such directors as  Terrence Malick  (To the Wonder co-starring Ben Affleck) and Brian De Palma (Passion w/Noomi Rapace).

Back in 2004, Rachel McAdams was on the cusp of becoming Hollywood’s next big A-list actress. In the spring, she was the two-faced, passive-aggressive Queen Bee, Regina George, frenemy to Lindsay Lohan’s Cady Heron in Mean Girls. In the Tina Fey scripted comedy about high school cliques (taken from Rosalind Wiseman’s non-fiction Queen Bees and Wannabes), George is the rich, pretty girl who has never met a friend she couldn’t stab in the back. McAdams was well into her twenties at the time, a mere seven years younger than Amy Poehler who played her insufferably desperate-to-be-cool mom. Still, McAdams owned Regina George. She wasn’t necessarily the girl that audiences loved to hate–that was just a bonus. What she did was bring shading to the role, humanizing her to the degree that audiences could often see the wheels in Regina’s mind spinning as she lured vulnerable prey into one trap after another with her silken demeanor.  Somehow, Regina just can’t NOT be who she is.  There was something truly cosmic and inspired about the way McAdams inhabited what could have been a stock character.  (This in spite of long, wretched wig that was only marginally more convincing than a mop head.) A few months later, she and Ryan Gosling created movie magic with the old-fashioned love story The Notebook from the Nicholas Sparks novel.  Whereas audiences despised McAdams in Mean Girls, they rooted for her in the WWII era story of star crossed lovers. At that point, McAdams seemed unstoppable.

The very next year, she made good on her success by starring in Wes Craven’s Red Eye, an in-flight suspense flick that managed to ring up quite a few dollars only a year after Jodie Foster took to the not-so-friendly skies in Flight Plan. In the same year, McAdams also appeared in The Wedding Crashers (w/Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan) and The Family Stone (w/Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermont Mulroney, and Luke Wilson).

Things slowed down a little bit after that, but there were all kinds of expectations for McAdams in The Time Traveler’s Wife with Eric Bana (from the best seller by Audrey Niffenegger).  A good friend of mine from Fort Worth came to town when the movie opened, and we saw it together. I actually liked it a lot. I guess McAdams did also…I mean considering that she keeps jumping from one variation to the next.

^ First, 2009’s The Time Traveler’s Wife

^ Then, 2012’s The Vow (a pretty big hit, actually)

^ And now…coming soon…too soon, actually, About Time

I mean, come on, is it just me, or is this getting uncomfortably familiar? Still, it hasn’t all been bad for McAdams. She might not have soared to spectacular heights just yet, but she works often, and she’s had her share of hits; after all,  she scored a role in Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr., and she reunited with Wilson for Woody Allen’s Oscar worthy smash Midnight in Paris, but, hold on, wait just one second…

Thanks for your consideration….

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