2012 was the year Jeremy Lin took the Knicks and the NBA by storm. The year Channing Tatum had his 8 mile moment and won America over with his pseudo biopic. Also in that year you had Macklemore and Ryan Lewis foregoing any major label help or distribution and had one of the biggest singles. Frank Ocean lured us all in with some soulful R&B and opened the usually close minded culture of the hip hop community. CM Punk, if you watch wrestling, set the modern record for longest championship reign at 400+ days. And for those into gaming, “The Walking Dead”, an indie game released for the fraction of a regular game won game of the year. All in all 2012 was a great year for unexpected underdogs.
Well 2012 is over, and my early estimate for what 2013 will be billed as, is the year of the not so underdogs reaching their true potentials. LeBron James, if you read my previous article, you know that I think he’s hitting that scary good level that I had once thought he would never reach. The Rock is back in the ring and is champion for the 10th time, and is right now in the middle of a 6 month stint where he has 1 movie a month hitting the box office. The Rock was already the biggest wrestling star, but he’s on the verge of becoming Hollywood’s biggest star too. Justin Timberlake froze the music industry in its footsteps with a single tweet that lead to one of two possible albums he’ll release this year, and a tour that sold out before being announced and will break every ticket sales record this summer. He’s solidifying his spot no longer as the guilty pleasure or taboo boy band member who’s actually good, but as the bona-fide megastar that everyone wants to see in any capacity, whether on SNL or Jimmy Fallon. And it’s only March. But my pick for big star getting even bigger and transcending past their “glass” ceiling is my man, the one and only, James Franco.
James Franco is a polarizing character. Between his antics as an artist of invisible pieces, or his universally hated hosting job of the Oscars, the only person not polarized by James Franco, is James Franco. Matter fact James Franco doesn’t seem to care about much. “Seems” is the operative word. Below the still icy layer that is James Franco’s exterior are some very complex, rippling waters. This is Franco’s gift, this is his magic trick. When I was thinking of a sports equivalent to James Franco (cause if you know me, you know I need to relate everything back to sports), I admittedly was stumped for a while. Who’s the one guy that comes off kind of goofy and not all there. Who can seem as if he’s not really trying and is living off of his legacy that supersedes his actual talent? Who makes plays that force you to ask, “is he just a lucky moron, or a brilliant savant?” And after you’ve fully taken him for granted and convinced yourself that he’s not as good as his name would tell you, he finishes off his opponent in such a way that your new question is “did I just watch one of the best performances ever?”
I think by now you’ve pieced it together, but for the few people still not sure at home, I’m talking about Eli Manning. Now that I figured it out, I can’t believe I didn’t see if before. My blinding love for the Cowboys probably prevented me from comparing James Franco, an actor I am honestly a huge fan of, and Eli Manning, the over-rated, but also under-rated, fourth quarter king who only makes it worse for Romo fans to digest late game and season collapses as he is in stark contrast to Romo, seemingly doing it specifically only late in the game. But this IS James Franco in a nut shell. Below Eli’s slack jawed demeanor, and his “lucky” (I one day will write the science of Eli Manning explaining how he has avoided the most hits of any QB) fall away throws, lies a very hard working and well-studied Quarterback. Franco for those who don’t know, is currently studying at multiple schools, teaching at multiple schools, and also getting multiple degrees, all at once, and still maintaining the schedule of a big Hollywood actor. This all inevitably makes him better than you give him credit for.
I just saw the movie Spring Breakers (awesome!) and honestly his performance aligns so perfectly with that of Eli’s first Super Bowl season. The initial draw of a movie like Spring Breakers is everything other than James Franco. The acclaimed Director in Harmony Korine, the young talent in the female ensemble that threatens to be a part of our movie headlining consciousness for the foreseen future, the already large spectacle that is spring break in this country, and the volatile combination of these “young and innocent” actresses being directed by Korine who is known for two of the most controversial movies in recent history in “Kids” and “Gummo”. There’s all this and to the untrained eye you just hope James Franco doesn’t fuck it all up with his quirkiness. In the early going you may think, he’s the only reason this movie shouldn’t be taken serious as a very dark comedy. But just like Eli, it’s as if he relishes in that position. It’s as if he can actually hear you and is laughing only to himself. Cause by the end of the movie, you’re just hoping no one else fucks up the one thing that has you glued to the screen, Mr. Franco. Similar to the Giants all getting hot at the same time for that improbable playoff run, there’s a definite crescendo moment in the flick where the director and all the major ingredients alike align perfectly. I don’t want to spoil it, but like a restaurant with a talking moose for a mascot (that one goes out to my Bugaboo Creek Fans), you can’t miss it.
If you haven’t seen Spring Breakers, do yourself a favor. It’s rather brilliant. For me it played out like a magic trick. Where my enjoyment is simultaneously distracted by my curiosity of “where the hell are you taking me with this movie?” To a level that for the first time since Fast Five, I can’t wait to see this movie again. His performance simultaneously satires the existence of pseudo gangsters while remaining steadfast as a captivating piece in a very convoluted puzzle that is the movie Spring Breakers. The movie will loosen you up as it unsubtly opens with the vibe of just another teen party movie, but when you least expect it, and just when you let your guard down it’ll sink its teeth in and surprise you with a depth of color and complexity you couldn’t have expected. Just like any good magic trick; just like James Franco.