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six wrongs, half a dozen rights
taking a look at pop culture hindsight
by jael mchenry (@JaelMcHenry)
pop culture

In entertainment, as in so many other things, hindsight is 20/20. And it’s often worth it to take a look back and congratulate yourself on the things you got right, as well as slapping yourself on the wrist for the things you got wrong. Although I’m still waiting for New York Magazine to apologize for summing up The English Patient in its Fall 1996 Movie Preview issue as (I’m paraphrasing since it’s been a while, but it was something along these lines) "a little movie likely to get overshadowed by the similarly themed In Love and War, which stars big names Chris O’Donnell and Sandra Bullock".

Ah, hindsight. So, so clear, isn’t it?

So. Me. Right and wrong. And plenty of both.

Starlet Division I: Career-Building

First, in a story that's still developing, I'd like to point out something I was right about: Malin Akerman is going to be a big star. I saw her first on the deservedly ignored Lisa Kudrow vehicle "The Comeback" in 2005, where she played the young, pretty star of the show-within-a-show, named Juna. And she was great. Since then she's slowly built her resume as the second lead in a couple of big-but-not-huge-but-still-pretty-big flicks, namely, The Heartbreak Kid and 27 Dresses. Now, she's the main watchwoman in the highly-anticipated big-screen Watchmen. It's only a matter of time til she out-Cameron-Diazes Cameron Diaz.

What I was wrong about: well, I thought the same thing about Shiri Appleby on "Roswell" in 1999. Sure, she's worked since, but in nothing you or I have seen. Two people from that show (Katherine Heigl and Emilie de Ravin) are starring on two of the most successful primetime shows currently on television, and one (Colin Hanks)is guest-starring on one of the most acclaimed. Shiri Appleby was in an ABC Family movie called, and I am not kidding about this, "Pizza My Heart."

I apologize. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. And where have you gone, Jason Behr?

Box Office Predictions Division

I was right about: The Love Guru tanking. Can't take too much credit for that. There are wild dogs living in caves in Tasmania who knew that movie would tank. It's made back just a smidge over half its $62 million budget. Tank is not an exaggeration.

I was wrong about: Blue Crush, which I thought would be a runaway hit, appearing as it did in late summer, with girl empowerment to entice the girls and girls in bikinis to entice the boys. Alas, it was not so.

Movie Superhero Division

I applauded Christian Bale for taking on Batman. That seems to have worked out OK for him, so far. Similarly, I thought Halle Berry as Catwoman sounded appallingly stupid, and the world agreed with me. 2 for 2. Don't worry, we'll make up for it later.

Groundbreaking Director Division

Right: I thought Christopher Nolan would break through. He clearly has. Not just for The Dark Knight, or even Batman Begins. Between those two he knocked out The Prestige. Seriously! He's like Steven Spielberg, except he remains a being of pure blockbuster joy, without the pretentious emotional sappy side.

Wrong: I thought Doug Liman would continue to impress me. He has not. Swingers and Go were tremendous, and he did a great job with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but after directing the greatest hairwashing scene of all time he then severed his relationship with the Bourne franchise, which was shaping up into the juggernaut it has since become, and his last movie was... Jumper? And he's an exec producer on the "Knight Rider" reboot? I'm done.

Undeserved Cancellation Division

Right: I thought the tremendous critical response to "Friday Night Lights" would be enough to keep it from getting cancelled, and it seems to have done the job.

Wrong: I distinctly remember thinking the same thing about "Sports Night".

Starlet Division II: Acting Talent

Two things I was wrong about, in completely different ways. I thought Gretchen Mol couldn't act; and I thought Mischa Barton could.

Mol redeemed herself for her early wooden performance in Rounders, lo these many years later, with the great job she did in The Notorious Bettie Page. It might have been a once-in-a-lifetime role, but she nailed it. And Mischa Barton, who I first saw as Vicky in the TV movie adaptation of "A Ring of Endless Light" as well as Evan Rachel Wood's lesbian experiment on "Once and Again", un-redeemed herself for those early successes in... well, everything she's done since. Can we just leave it at that?


Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry

more about jael mchenry


the grape-ist generation
what does wine say about us?
by jael mchenry
topic: pop culture
published: 8.5.09

life is too short
thirty-one things you needn't bother doing
by jael mchenry
topic: pop culture
published: 2.6.12


adam kraemer
9.3.08 @ 10:33a

For the record, I saw Shiri Appleby in a movie last night (what are the odds), and I can see where you'd pick her. Might still happen.

mike julianelle
9.3.08 @ 10:51a

I never watched Roswell but always thought she was rather cute.

sandra thompson
9.4.08 @ 10:43a

In 1949, my mother predicted a long and happy career for "Anthony Curtis" when we saw "City Across the River," based on the novel "The Amboy Dukes." I reckon everybody agreed after "Some Like it Hot." But we can't all be that lucky. I think you done good, kid.

jael mchenry
9.5.08 @ 12:56p

Thanks! And by the way, something else I was wrong about... ironically I was flipping through channels (in Colombia) and saw an ad for "Pizza My Heart", which is in fact on the Disney Channel, not ABC Family. Which makes it a little less pathetic... but, sadly, not much.

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