Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

‘There’s Something About Ben’ — MMI’s Tribute to Ben Stiller

posted by Nell Minow

David Schwartz of the Museum of the Moving Image has a thoughtful essay on the showbiz satires and family psychodramas of Ben Stiller to accompany the museum’s salute at their annual gala last week.

It has often been said that show business is in Ben Stiller’s genes. If that’s true, then so is a healthy–and seemingly neurotic–disdain for Hollywood glitz. Indeed, the 42-year-old star’s profound and playful understanding of the way that movies and TV shows can be both alluring and alienating is at the heart of his prolific body of work….

So what is behind this constant impulse to satirize show business, to make fun of the industry that provides Stiller’s livelihood? The answer, beyond the surface of the sheer entertainment value of his movies (and Stiller’s films have earned nearly two billion box-office dollars) is that he sees show business as the perfect arena in which to explore, in amplified form, many of the neuroses of modern life. In show business, such foibles as vanity, insecurity, pretension, ego inflation, and feelings of inadequacy are all on display in heightened, occasionally ridiculous form. Our laughter at Stiller’s characters usually comes along with a bracing dose of self-recognition. This is because the public spectacle of show business becomes the ideal forum for an intimate exploration of the most basic psychodramas.

Advertisement

Schwartz notes that Stiller delivers a real performance, even in the broadest comedies, and has been successful in a remarkable range of roles and genres. He concludes that Stiller “has been able to find success in Hollywood while also turning a mirror on it. He lets us laugh knowingly at show business, but he also reveals that show business is a reflection of both our dreams and our imperfections.”

Advertisement

Previous Posts

What Screen Time Does to Developing Brains
As kids go back to school, it's a good time to establish some rules about screen time.  My recommended rules are below. This is increasingly ...

posted 3:55:33pm Sep. 02, 2015 | read full post »

In Theaters For One Night Only: How to Change the World
How to ...

posted 3:54:25pm Sep. 02, 2015 | read full post »

A Walk in the Woods
It isn't getting to that point where you most often see your friends at funerals. It isn't feeling stale because instead of promoting a new ...

posted 5:50:12pm Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

AJ Hakari, Mack Bates, Betty Jo Tucker and I Talk About the Fall Movies 2015
[iframe width="400" height="370" src="http://player.cinchcast.com/?platformId=1&assetType=single&assetId=7879147" frameborder="0"] ...

posted 5:09:27pm Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Opening This Month: September 2015
Happy September! Fall is when we see fewer sequels, superheroes and shootouts, more dramas based on real stories or best-selling books. Here's what we have to look forward to this month: September 2 A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson's book ...

posted 3:24:52pm Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.