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James Gandolfino as the sensitive blob girls say they want: Eeewww, I’ll take Tony Soprano

November 1, 2013

There’s one huge–and I mean huge–flaw in Enough Said: James Gandolfino.

Yeah, de mortuis nil nisi bonum and all that, but the guy was revolting! Here are some of the traits he displayed as Albert, the  romantic love-interest of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva, a struggling divorced masseuse working her rounds in not-quite-upmarket L.A.:

1. Unbelievably fat, even more obese than he was as Tony Soprano–his upper arm was the size of Louis-Dreyfus’s slender waist.

2, Unacceptably hairy, on top of being unbelievably fat. Hairy men are sexy, as long as the hair expanse isn’t the size of a floor rug.

3. Won’t shave–a terrible idea for an older man, and producing even more body hair on top of the rest of the stuff.

4. Really cruddy taste in clothes–plus icky sandals.

5. Gross eating habits: When he revealed to Louis-Dreyfus that his ex-wife had said she was “sickened” by his practice of taking his corn chip and swishing around all the onions in the guacamole to the edge of the bowl so he wouldn’t have to eat the onions, I whispered to my gal-pal who accompanied me to the movie: “I’d be sickened, too.” She whispered back: “Me too.”

6. More gross eating habits: How’d you like the Titanic-size tub of popcorn he helped himself to on his movie date with Louis-Dreyfus? Plus no social skills: talked out loud throughout the movie.

7. No social skills plus nascent perv-itude: Invites Louis-Dreyfus to brunch at his house soon after they meet, greets her at the door wearing his PJ bottoms with the fly gaping open. I’d have turned around and run for my life.

8. Bedroom scenes with Louis-Dreyfus: I had to avert my eyes.

9. Did I mention that he was unbelievably fat?

But the idea seemed to be that we were supposed to love his character (loser-blob TV archivist dumped by his pretentious vegan poet-wife) just because he wasn’t Tony Soprano–he was nice. Here’s Ann Hornaday’s review for the WashPost gushing over the “frumpy, overweight academic” Gandolfini played:

Thoroughly banishing any remaining vestiges of Tony Soprano, Gandolfini comes utterly disarmed to a role that he tackles with superb sensitivity and naked vulnerability. A bearded, sweet-natured butterball of emotional need, he both absorbs and deflects Eva’s spikier energy, which Louis-Dreyfus softens considerably by way of self-deprecating wit and her preternaturally expressive face.

Yes, there’s plenty of “naked vulnerability”–way too much, given Gandolfino’s girth and the plethora of bedroom scenes. Enough Said trades on the fiction that women actually want men who display “sensitivity” as their primary virtue. A real-life Eva–with Louis-Dreyfus’s stunning prettiness and a figure still as lithe as it was when she played Elaine on Seinfeld–would have tried to figure out a way to get her ex-husband (played by Philip Brock, still pretty darned sleek in middle age) back. Albert is the pathetic but nice divorced guy we all know whom we’d like to set up…with someone else besides us.

In real life women, especially pretty women, shun “frumpy overweight” men. Yes, Tony Soprano was fat, but in sleek suits he exuded insolent power and low cunning. Women are turned on by power, and Tony’s power made you forget his size.

I loved Enough Said in general. It has a great screenplay, a plethora of wry social observation, and terrific acting, especially by Louis-Dreyfus, who manages to make Eve lovable, even though she’s also needy, meddling, impulsive, and overly impressed by people she thinks are her betters. But Gandolfini was grossly (as it were) miscast. Think what the movie would have been like if George Clooney had been recruited to put on an extra few pounds and and a worn pair of sweatpants to play Albert.

One Comment
  1. What's this for? permalink

    hey, just found your blog via instapundit. I like it.

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