With the trash that is Marley & Me and Bedtime Stories, starring Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox respectively, opening up tomorrow, Christmas Day, we at the blahg answer the question on everyone's mind: What were the best career choices the Friends stars ever made after their too many...er...I mean 10 season on the show that never ended?
9. Lisa Kudrow in Analyze This and Analyze That
Lisa Kudrow proved that she could be more than the butt of every joke with her turn opposite Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal in Analyze This and Analyze That. All the while knowing that these films weren't her show, she proved she was more than an actress adept at the out-of-left-field schizophrenic punchline. Billy Crystal being more serious than usual, DeNiro being funnier than usual, Kudrow keeping them in check.
8. David Schwimmer in Duane Hopwood
So maybe Schwimfan got more props for Band of Brothers on HBO, but this terribly overlooked 2005 film features a performance by Davey as an alcoholic casino worker in Atlantic City that more than eclipses any of his work before or since. And the rest of the film isn't too bad either: (the amazing actress and comedian) Janeane Garofalo costars as Hopwood's distressed wife, and there are numerous scenes of raw power here. It's too bad mainstream audiences passed up this gem, because the cutest of the Friends men (yeah, I said it—and I mean it) really proved his worth here.
7. Courteney Cox in Dirt
I'll just come right and say it – I only started watching this show because I was in a hotel room with free cable and there was a marathon. When I saw the first promos for Dirt, my first question was "What is the Friends castoff doing now?" And on FX nonetheless. So I ignored it. Until that one fateful weekend full of channel surfing when nothing else was on and I happened to stumble on the show during a coke-fueled lesbian sex scene. Yeah, I know I was shocked too. Obviously I gave it a shot and once the disturbing sort-of-rape-scene was over and the real plot took over I was completely hooked. It was sex, lies, and videotape for the 21st Century combined with some excellent writing. Apparently too excellent – as of June this year Cox announced that the show was canceled. And believe me those crazy lesbians will be missed.
6. Matt LeBlanc in Lost in Space
So, let's face it: LeBlanc's decision to star in Lost in Space didn't really help his career (the last thing poor Matthew acted in was the Friends spinoff Joey, which ended way back in 2006). I mean, who would have thought that even the director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and Predator 2 could have churned out the dreck that is Lost in Space. But, contextually, I understand LeBlanc's strategy: work with William Hurt and Gary Oldman, star in a film based on a fabulous TV show, and knock that goddamn boat movie out of the number one box office position. OK, OK, LeBlanc couldn't have known at the time that Lost in Space would be the first film to boot Titanic out of the number one spot after six million weeks (15, really) in 1998, but it did. And for that reason, I commend his decision.
5. Lisa Kudrow in Happy Endings
Lisa Kudrow is the smartest Friend. No, really. In spite of the drippy character she played on that "Hi, I've long overstayed my welcome (and never really had a welcome to be proud of)" series, Kudrow has proven herself an amazing actress time and time again. Kudrow may not be richest, but she's the smartest (and by smartest I mean "most talented"). While J. Ani and C. Cox might rake it in with tragically awful romantic comedies and tired horror sequels (or more tragically awful romantic comedies), Lisa Kudrow—most often in the company of director Don Roos—continues to spread her acting wings and fly away home. In Happy Endings—another overlooked 2005 film, hello!--Kudrow stars (alongside an amazing cast that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Steve Coogan, and a surprisingly deep Tom Arnold) as Mamie, a fairly uptight individual who has suffered many things and gets blackmailed for all the wrong reasons. And that's just the beginning of this amazing film. Interestingly, with all the other flamboyant performances that surround her, Kudrow's performance keeps this film from falling apart.
4. Matthew Perry in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Matthew Perry proves he can act and his agent proves Matt can get a true acting gig. Matt plays Matt Albie, half of a well-respected but problem-riddled comedy writing duo with Bradley Whitford's Danny Tripp. The two are charged to rescue a sketch comedy television show from trash television status. Created and produced by Aaron Sorkin, the show was too smart, too cynical, too self-aware of the mind-numbing effects of television. Though it debuted with 30 Rock, a show with a similar concept, absurd satire is easier to stomach than the hard-hitting kind. However, with this performance, Matt showed he could work through his own inner demons, playing a man who, like himself, suffered from an addiction to pain killers.
3. David Schwimmer on 30 Rock
Out of all the annoying cast members on Friends I would say that Mr. Schwimmer was always my least favorite. He was goofy looking, his voice was a little too high pitched, his reactions were always completely overdone, and to be honest I never believed he could tap Jennifer Aniston. But it took one small guest role to change all that. His turn on 30 Rock as Greenzo, the NBC's environmental mascot, was one of the show's most memorable characters and that's saying a lot from a series that's had the likes of Steve Martin, Matthew Broderick, and LL Cool J (my second favorite, Ridikolous!) grace its stage. His delivery was dry and on point, and even though he was playing a mostly unlikable character (like he did less successfully in HBO's Band of Brothers) he still managed to make me want to see more.
2. Lisa Kudrow in The Opposite of Sex
Kudrow may have made a name for herself as ditzy, hippie Phoebe Buffay (and before that as the same character (literally) in Mad About You), the role that convinced me the woman could actually act was Lucia DeLury in The Opposite of Sex. While Christina Ricci may have been the real star of the film, Kudrow stole any scene she was in. Watching her as an uptight fag hag is something that should not be missed. If only because it is so far from what she played in Friends, yet totally believable. The business suits and her hair pulled back into a tight bun are enough of a shock on their own, but the dead panned one-liners seal the deal.
1. Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl
In The Good Girl, Aniston plays opposite the always adorable and maybe even hunkish Jake Gyllenhaal as Holden Worther, a Holden-Caufield-stockboy working at the same discount retail store she works at. Aniston puts on a subdued performance as Justine Last, a woman in a young marriage in a life chock full of banality. In one of the most gorgeous awkward onscreen romances, the film wonders with Justine what exactly is the right course for a life to take -- the safe mundane loving track or the bipolar passionate one. By God, watch this movie and see which one they both choose.