This weekend, much to my chagrin and against my better judgement, I was talked into going to see The Five-Year Engagement. “But Emily Blunt is in it,” my friend Chris said. That was enough to sway me. But then we got to the movie and Emily Blunt was her usual beautiful, witty, charming self… and just about the only good thing in the meandering, dull, bloated stale donut of a movie. Chris and I are now in a fight. And so are Emily Blunt and I. Why is one of my favorite actresses never in a good movie?
My favorite thing about The Devil Wears Prada, perhaps one of my most-watched movies of the past 10 years, was discovering Emily Blunt as Emily, a blunt and brittle assistant to Miranda Priestly. Sure, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway were the stars, but it was Blunt who stole the show with her well-placed barbs and an eye-roll that could wither even the strongest of heroines. From that moment on I vowed I would watch her in anything. What a very very difficult vow that turned out to be.
Emily’s IMDb page after Prada reads like a resumé belonging to a student who interned at the White House and then went on to work at Starbucks after Arby’s after Avon. There is Dan in Real Life, a ho-hum Steve Carell project that people would make more fun of if he didn’t make Evan Almighty first. There is The Great Buck Howard, which didn’t even make $1 million, even though everyone loved our little Emily in it. She was great in Sunshine Cleaning with Amy Adams, playing second fiddle to her enthusiastic redhead, but the movie didn’t connect with audiences.
Sure, we had her great performance in The Young Victoria to tide us over and remind us that our Emily could make great pictures. But, before long, it was back to the turkeys of old. In 2010 and 2011 she made a troika of verifiable bombs: The Wolfman, Gulliver’s Travels, and The Adjustment Bureau. Awful, every single one of them.
What’s strange isn’t that Emily Blunt has made a bunch of bad movies (name one actor or actress who hasn’t been in a bunch), it’s that I still love her even after she has. (It’s not like she’s Nicolas Cage, who churns out groan-worthy paycheck project after groan-worthy paycheck project.) Even though she hasn’t given me any good reasons to, I still want to see Emily. It’s not her, it’s her projects — can’t someone turn her considerable charms into an Oscar or at least some sort of comedy that we actually want to watch? Can’t she take one of the seven million roles being offered to fellow talented redhead Jessica Chastain? Where are the blue-chip directors that are clamoring to work with her and get her out of the middling rom-com junk and into something a bit more prestigious? Where is Anna Faris offering to be her sidekick in some kick-ass comedy full of girls we love that Hollywood just can’t seem to figure out what to do with?
Not to say we might not have a quality Emily Blunt feature in our future. Aside from Salmon Fishing in Yemen (which I just can’t bring myself to go see for fear that I might damage the reputations of either Salmon, Yemen, or Future Dame Emily) she co-stars in Looper, the time-travel drama that comes out this summer featuring three of our favorite things: Bruce Willis‘ bald head, Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s delicious body, and all of Emily Blunt. This one could be good. But, then again, she’s also slated to co-star with Tom Cruise in All You Need Is Kill, a movie I already hate for having a title even dumber than Salmon Fishing in Yemen. Really? All You Need Is Kill? I’d rather watch her in an Ace of Base jukebox musical called All That She Wants Is Another Baby.
Still, I’ll watch them, all of them, waiting for Emily to find the vehicle that is perfect for her. Yes, I like her that much. It’s just going to be so much easier once Hollywood figures out what to do with her or she starts taking projects that, like so many one-night stands, don’t end up looking a lot less attractive once the deal is sealed.
In the meantime, who wants to check out Salmon Fishing in Yemen? It has to be good, it has Emily Blunt in it.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan