So I’m enjoying the Fletch/Fletch Lives double feature on AMC tonight, and a question occurs to me – has there ever been a bigger fall from funny for a once-great comedic actor than Chevy Chase’s? There was a time (about 1975-1989) when he could legitimately claim to be one of the funniest men in American film (and TV, although his time on Saturday Night Live didn’t even last 2 seasons). Sure, there were some real stinkers in there (I’m looking at you, Under the Rainbow), but the triple whammy of Caddyshack, Vacation, and Fletch should’ve been enough to be his lifetime meal ticket.
Then there are the movies that, while they may not be in the same class as the Big 3, are pretty damn good anyway – European Vacation, Spies Like Us, Three Amigos, Funny Farm, Fletch Lives, and Christmas Vacation. Hell, even his non-speaking part in the “You Can Call Me Al” video was funny. Not a bad work history, indeed.
But it seems that as soon as the ’90s hit, Chevy’s deal with the devil expired and he hasn’t done anything worth watching. Well, almost – I have to come clean and admit to my disturbing fondness for Memoirs of an Invisible Man, although that wasn’t really a comedy. But other than that, it’s been turd after turd. Nothing But Trouble alone should’ve gotten his SAG card revoked for a decade, but instead we got the timeless classics Cops and Robbersons and the dreadful Vegas Vacation.
So back to the question – whose comedic film career has taken a bigger face plant than Chevy Chase’s? Robin Williams? Perhaps, but he has enough dramatic chops to make up for it. Eddie Murphy? Well, kids seem to like the stuff he’s doing now, so that’s worth something U guess. It’s been a long time since Trading Places, though. Steve Martin? A good candidate, but I think he still has it in him to do something funny.
Ah, it’s too depressing to think about anymore.
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