It happened to Bill Murray. It happened to Jim Carrey. Broad comedians have, in this day and age, an overwhelming propensity to go indie. Now, it’s happening to Kevin James. And to my readers, I apologize for putting Kevin James in the same category as Bill Murray and Jim Carrey. And to Kevin James, I apologize for that remark.
As of yet, James is starring in two films in 2012. The first is a Happy Madison goofball Mixed Martial Arts-themed comedy, Here Comes the Boom. Pretty standard James shtick. The second, however, will provoke some eyebrow raising. It’s Little Boy, an independent family drama about a young boy dealing with an deployed soldier father (the setting is WWII) and a collection of antagonistic authority figures. Also starring in the film is Emily Watson, for whom this type of film is way more expected.
I do not mean to discount James’ potential capability to handle more dramatic roles: I’m simply pointing out the surprise of it all (I don’t know why I’m being so defensive; I guess I still kind of feel bad about the snark I made above). Traditionally, goofball comedians have proven adept at dramatic roles. I really enjoyed Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love (I did, stop groaning), I loved Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction, and as for the aforementioned Murray and Carrey? Heroes of the shift.
James has certainly made me laugh before, so I’m not going to expect that he isn’t able to make me cry (I’m not exaggerating, he probably can; Kal Penn made me cry at the end of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay—it’s not difficult). Clearly, the actor is dedicated to this shift, as there’s also the distinct possibility that he might be involved (as himself) in the developing, superbly-cast Charlie Kaufman (woo!) film, Frank or Francis, as James was actually written into the script.
So, I will Mr. James luck on his travails into dramatic acting. May his likability provide a life vest in this new waters until he learns to swim freely on his own.