Happy Mutants
1999, All Rights Reserved.
People We Like

Casts, as Best I Can Remember

The Big Chill
  • William Hurt
  • Kevin Kline
  • Jeff Goldbloom
  • others

Who's the Star?

Ensemble Casts

by erik

Is it me, or are there more ensemble cast movies around? The earliest example I can think of is The Big Chill, and I didn't even see that. I'm thinking, though, of more recent movies, say 1994-99.

About nine months ago, I first saw Kicking and Screaming, which is now among my Top Five (intertextuality: Too Many Colors:Words:Top Five) movies. It had a good ensemble cast: four main characters and four secondary characters. Talkative

Kicking and Screaming
  • Eric Stoltz
  • Olivia D'Abo
  • Parker Posey
  • the guy in the new ABC sitcom, "It's Like, You Know"
  • the guy who played Otis played a minor character on an episode or two of "Seinfeld," as the pool guy at the gym
  • Eiliot Gould
  • others

They have a proliferation, a certain density, of top Hollywood talent.

friends graduate college and fail to do anything else. It's got interesting flashback cinematography, snappy dialog, and Eric Stoltz as guru-bartender Chet.

Beautiful Girls completely defied my expectations. From the trailer, I guessed it to be about Michael Rappaport drooling on Uma Thurman. Instead, Timothy Hutton plays a sensitive musician who retreats to his small hometown to contemplate marriage, surrounded by his fucked-up high school buddies and a young neighbor girl with a crush. It's actually quite contemplative.

The point being, I'm liking these ensemble movies. I'm not sure of the reason. Is it because they have a proliferation, a certain density, of top Hollywood talent? Well, that's certainly what draws me to most of them--the casts usually include people I like (i.e., not your usual top Hollywood talent, but rather my personal favorite talent). Maybe this is because the sort of screenplay that features an ensemble cast appeals to the quirkier actor. These are movies in which more is said in dialog than is done in action. A redefinition of the 1930s term "talkie."

Or is my attraction more of a forgiving nature? Perhaps because there are a multitude of characters, I'm more willing to let a movie's flaws slip by, simply because it's easier to find a character to relate to. When you have ten characters to choose from, surely you will enjoy the storyline of at least one of them.

The first argument, I think, applies more to my feelings about Kicking and Screaming. I don't think there are any flaws in it that I'm overlooking. The second argument, however, more closely approximates my feelings about Beautiful Girls. I loved the film, but I thought it had some parts that dragged, specifically the relationship between Michael Rapaport and Martha Plimpton.

Beautiful Girls
  • Timothy Hutton
  • Michael Rapaport
  • Uma Thurman
  • little girl from The Professional
  • Matt Dillon
  • Martha Plimpton ("I think about you when I go to the bathroom.")
  • Rosie O'Donnel
  • others
too many actors, too many colors