The undeniable star and paparazzi target throughout Friends’ 10-year run (especially in the latter years), Aniston definitely hit some turbulence when the show ended in 2004--and that’s not even including the Great Divorce of ’05! That same year, Aniston released two films, Rumor Has It and Derailed, both of which misfired greatly with audiences. Furthermore, industry bigwigs started to question whether the actress really had a movie audience at all. Then along came The Break-Up, the rare blockbuster romantic comedy, followed by a fan-base-approved fling with costar Vince Vaughn, and voila--all was well, including her per-movie quote. She remains easily the best-off out of all the Friends, and has no less than six films due for release between now and the end of 2009.
Grade: A- [PAGEBREAK]
Cox has not fared well post-Friends, and even worse, it hasn’t been due to a lack of opportunities. First up was the almost-straight-to-DVD indie November. But, OK, it was made before Friends’ end, so we’ll give her a pass. But Barnyard, the exception to the rule that animated movies are guaranteed box office hits? And Zoom, one of 2006’s worst? And Tripper, her husband David Arquette's vanity-project slasher film? C’mon, Mon--I mean, Court! Cox seemed primed for a comeback when she returned to her TV roots with the tabloid drama Dirt, but the show was cancelled just last week after only two seasons. (And frankly, if she wasn’t Former Friends Star Courteney Cox, Dirt might not have been renewed for a second season.) Luckily, she’s co-starring in this Christmas’ Bedtime Stories, a surefire family hit with Adam Sandler. Phew--saved by the Sand Man!
Grade: D+ [PAGEBREAK]
On the surface it might seem like Kudrow, too, has suffered from the mythical curse, but the former Phoebe Buffay has done better than meets the eye (as long as “better” doesn’t mean “achieved mainstream success”). The highlight of Kudrow’s post-Friends career has been her cancelled, largely misperceived HBO mockumentary The Comeback. Viewers probably expected sitcom-type comedy, but that’s precisely what The Comeback was not--intentionally. The show was a complex, biting satire, one that must’ve been unbelievably difficult to execute and act in, and one that sorely deserves a second look. On the big screen, Kudrow’s only misstep was a supporting role in last year’s nauseating P.S. I Love You; in 2005’s indie Happy Endings, on the other hand, she showed her range. She has five more films on the way in the next year and a half.
Grade: B- [PAGEBREAK]
LeBlanc’s entire TV career could be summed up with one four-letter word (no, not that one!): Joey. For 10 smash seasons on Friends, it was the name of his character, a favorite of many viewers. But today the word “Joey” is dirtier than any other four-letter word that may come to mind, because it was the title of one of TV’s worst spinoffs in a long time--the spinoff that damaged (potentially irreparably) LeBlanc’s career and somewhat sullied the formerly immaculate Friends brand. Just last month, Joey co-star Drea De Matteo blamed the show’s unsuccessful two-season run for her career hiatus. As for LeBlanc, nobody’s heard from him--at least not for work-related reasons--since Joey was cancelled.
Grade: F [PAGEBREAK]
Judging by Perry’s post-Friends résumé, the actor has taken virtually whatever he could get--which hasn’t been all bad. The good: NBC’s cancelled but underrated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and a 2004 episode of Scrubs that Perry starred in and directed; the bad: TNT’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated but extra-cheesy TV movie The Ron Clark Story; and the ugly: straight-to-DVD flick Numb, which was shot in ’06 but not released until last month. Ouch. But smoother times lie ahead for Perry’s big-screen career, especially with next year’s Big-esque comedy 17 Again.
Grade: C+ [PAGEBREAK]
Schwimmer has been the male equivalent of Kudrow for the past four years: lots of variation, with no commercial success but nothing to be too ashamed of, either. In fact, he has quietly established himself as a possible multi-threat. His feature directorial debut, March’s long-delayed Run, Fat Boy, Run, was a bust at the box office but hinted at behind-the-camera talent that will certainly lead to more directing gigs down the road. (He previously directed several episodes of Friends and a couple of Joey.) Schwimmer’s best work, however, has come as a guest star. On 30 Rock he played a loony character named Greenzo, while he joined Curb Your Enthusiasm’s self-deprecation parade with a superb three-episode arc in 2004. And later this year, Schwimmer will be reprising his vocal role in Madagascar 2.