Paulelmo's Blog

Monk

Some of the folks who were in the bar last night heard me talking about how I was anxious to get home and watch the final episode of the USA television show Monk, starring Tony Shalhoub. Well, we made it home late and tired, and I’m pleased that the show’s final episode was worth staying up until three a. m. for.

It was an excellent episode, more touching than funny, and the show concluded in a very satisfying fashion for me. That’s not nearly as important for me as it would have been had I seen every episode of the show’s 125-episode run, but since there are a good number of episodes I haven’t seen, it’s not really as if this is the end for me and Adrian Monk.

The finale leaves me wondering what lies in store for Mr. Shalhoub, who has as much potential as just about any of Hollywood’s A List actors. A glance at imdb.com shows that he has two movies due to come out in the next couple of years or so, Feed The Fish and Untitled Beatle Boyin Project.  It looks as if he will play the male lead in both of those films, but it also looks as if they may be B List movies.

I want to see this guy carry an A List film, or even a string of them. They would probably have to be comedies, but that’s cool, the dude’s a comic. Monk didn’t typically allow Shalhoub to be nearly as funny as his potential. For that, you have to watch some of his Wings work, or, better yet, put your hands on a copy of the Bill Murray comedy, Quick Change, from 1990.

I first saw Quick Change at the cinema when it came out, and I wasn’t much of a fan. Like some reviewers have stated, it bogs down with the seemingly impossible obstacles that keep Murray’s trio of inept thieves–Geena Davis and Randy Quaid are his partners–from getting out of the inner city and to the airport. This does happen, but when I saw the film a second time, it didn’t seem to matter at all. All that mattered was the laughs.

I enjoyed that second viewing with my mother, and enjoy it we did. We just came across it on the tube one night and thought we’d give it a chance. Thank the Lord we did. I literally don’t think my mother and I have ever laughed so hard together. Murray was his ever-hilarious deadpan self and Quaid was as good as he’s ever been, but it was Shalhoub, once again playing an immigrant taxi driver, who got the biggest laughs out of us. It is a remarkable performance, and I recommend picking a copy of the dvd.

Shalhoub also gave a memorable performance in the political dramedy Primary Colors. In a film of some of Hollywood’s best, yes, Travolta, but Emma Thompson and Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thornton–my Heavens, it’s even got Larry Hagman in it for criminy’s sake; that alone should make it worth the dvd rental fee–and a film with a lot of funny lines, Shalhoub, in a sparse performance, delivers the funniest line. Actually, it’s not even a funny line, but just an exquisite delivery of a line. Watch the film and see if you can see what I mean.

Great actors can do that, they can take a nothing role and make it important, and it seems that this is easier to do with comedy than it is with drama.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two more of Mr. Shalhoub’s roles, and that’s because they’re in Coen Brothers’ films. His performance as movie agent Ben Geisler in 1991’s Barton Fink really brought the whole Hollywood thing home. It is no wonder why the Coens sought out Mr. Shalhoub for the role of Eddie Riedenschneider in 2001’s The Man Who Wasn’t There. The role is essentially the same as the Geisler one, only this time, instead of being an agent, Shalhoub plays a defense attorney. He still plays the fast talking, keep them reeling with input character, the situation is just a different one. That’s why the brothers gave him the call; he played the type well the first time around, and they knew the second time around would see similar success.

So, maybe the Coen Brothers will be the ones to bring Mr. Shalhoub to A List leading man status. They’ve come close with John Goodman, William H. Macy, John Turturro, and Josh Brolin, all could have been character  actors that made significant headway in their careers due to Coen roles; maybe they’ve got a big role for Tony in all of those hundreds of scripts they have sitting on their shelves. Then, perhaps we will get to see what he can do in a leading role with more mainstream Hollywood producers and directors. I certainly hope so.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be talking to you soon.

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