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Movie Mom

MVPs of the Month: Ty Burrell and Juliette Lewis

posted by Nell Minow

Ty Burrell is everywhere these days. He is Phil on the beloved television series “Modern Family,” brilliantly updating the classic “Honey, I’m Home!” sitcom dad as a guy who may be clueless and corny and overly sensitive but who adores his family and whose deep connection to his wife (oh, that re-wedding and those anniversary gifts!) and to technology (the iPad episode!) are always endearing. He’s in two huge studio films this month as well. In “Morning Glory” he plays the host of the country’s worst morning show, superficially wholesome but under the surface kind of twisted. And look for him in an important scene in “Fair Game,” at a dinner party taking on Sean Penn as Joe Wilson. Both are far from his genial Phil Dunphy character and show you that Burrell has a lot more to show us.
Juliette Lewis was a child actress whose assured but vulnerable performance as a teenager in the remake of “Cape Fear” got her nominated for an Oscar. She has raised some eyebrows on-screen (“Kalifornia,” “Natural Born Killers”) and off-screen (high school drop-out who legally emancipated from her parents at age 14, drug rehab). More recently, she has been pursing a singing career, but she is back this fall with two performances as damaged but very different women (another good example is her small role in “Catch and Release”). In “Conviction” we see her in two pivotal scenes separated by 18 years as a witness who changes her story. In “Due Date,” she provides one of the film’s few highlights as a blissful pot dealer. In both she takes small parts and shows such specificity and such understanding of and affection for her characters that we cannot help but be drawn to them. She’s next scheduled for “Hangover 2.” Can’t wait.

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