Charming and graceful with a slight tendency of being a wallflower, Elizabeth Banks is pretty much this generation’s Elisabeth Shue. Both actresses are pretty great in the roles they are given, both can alternate between the girl next door and the sexy vixen and both never allow themselves to be boxed into any one type of role.
Unfortunately, that’s not really a good thing. Sometimes you need to repeat yourself a couple of times in order for audiences to realize that you are there. Banks tends to completely change herself from role to role. Sometimes it’s a simple hairdo alteration, sometimes she sports an accent and then sometime she just goes completely in the direction that you weren’t expecting her to.
And while versatility and the willingness to not repeat oneself is a sign of a good actor, it’s also the sign of an actor who might never hit the big leagues. Banks is skirting right on the edge of hitting the A-list, constantly lining up solid work in big movies. But unless she finds that perfect role soon, she might end up being one of those actresses who works steadily but never seems to make an impression.
THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN - Chances are, this you probably remember Banks in the most. Her performance as Beth is so damn memorable (she’s the crazy gal that digs Steve Carell’s funky chest hair) that it completely masks the fact that she’s only in the movie for about ten minutes. Ten minutes or no, this is easily the high point of her career thus far.
ROLE MODELS - I was told to put WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER on here by a friend, but since I’ve not seen that flick (or I saw it and don’t remember it) I’m going to opt for MODELS instead. A good deal of the actors from SUMMER appear here and, to be quite honest, this flick is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. It’s not terribly original, but it’ll definitely put a smile on your face.
THE UNINVITED - Most critics dismissed this remake of A TALE OF TWO SISTERS as being just another J-horror dud, but I found it to be pretty damn good. Banks definitely goes against type here as the supposedly evil stepmother to Emily Browning’s damaged lead character. Definitely not as generic as the trailers and posters would lead you to believe, THE UNINVITED is worth checking out.
SLITHER - Another undiscovered gem, SLITHER is probably one of the goriest mainstream releases of the last twenty years. It’s almost as if Universal had no idea that director James Gunn was remaking NIGHT OF THE CREEPS by way of Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD. Funny as hell and a trippy gorefest to boot. As for Banks, she’s pretty good here and shows that she’s fully capable of getting her hands dirty in a raunchy horror pic.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED HER IN
Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN Trilogy - I guess I knew that Banks played Jameson’s secretary Betty Brant in these flicks, but I kinda didn’t really realize it. Maybe it’s the short dark do she’s sporting or the fact that Brant is barely in these movies, but I didn’t really put two and two together till I was compiling this list.
ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO - As AngieBee pointed out yesterday in her HUMP DAY installment, PORNO was quite the dud at the box office. And, as far as I can tell, it didn’t really do to well on DVD and Blu-Ray either, so I’m guessing that you, dear reader, probably haven’t seen this flick. If you have, then you already know that Banks rocks here. If not, do yourself a favor and check this one out. PORNO is sweet, funny, raunchy and definitely not deserving of the obscurity it has been banished to.
DEFINITELY, MAYBE - Here’s another flick that I didn’t really realize Banks was in till I was scanning over her IMDB page. I’m pretty sure the reason that I don’t remember her in this is because she’s overshadowed by the likes of Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz, Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Kline, but this flick is easily one of the best rom-coms of the last few years. Banks may not be memorable here, but the movie most certainly is.
FRED CLAUS - Personally, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for this Vince Vaughn holiday bonanza. I like holiday movies, I like getting to watch them when the time is appropriate and CLAUS is actually one of the funnier ones. That having been said, I have no idea why Banks is here. Wearing what can only be described as a “naughty elf” outfit that is very cleavagey, Banks only seems to be on hand to deliver a little T&A in what is very much a PG family flick. Combine this with the fact that Banks is only person at the North Pole who is normal-sized (all of the other actors are either played by little people or were digitally shrunk), you’ve got yourself one deeply inappropriate character in an otherwise cute movie.
MEET DAVE - I’ll be honest here, I couldn’t make it through MEET DAVE. The first ten minutes of this are absolutely awful and I just felt bad for Eddie Murphy. I mean, seriously, are times so bad that he has to appear in dreck like this just to score a paycheck? I have no idea who Banks plays here and, to be even more honest, I have no desire to find out. Just like The Rock returning to his action roots with FASTER and putting the kiddie movies aside, Eddie Murphy needs to do the same.
SWEPT AWAY - It’s been years since I’ve seen this, so I can’t really remember who Banks played in it. What I do remember, however, is Madonna’s freakishly muscular forearms and her constant shrieking throughout most of the movie. Believe the hype, SWEPT AWAY is one of the worst movies ever filmed.
MY IDIOT BROTHER - Another Paul Rudd and Banks team-up, this comedy co-stars Adam Scott (who recently starred with Banks 1.0, Elisabeth Shue, in PIRANHA 3D) Zooey Deschanel and Steve Coogan. Set for release sometime 2011.
MAN ON A LEDGE - Action antics with Sam Worthington as a ex-cop turned con who threatens to throw himself from a Manhattan hotel rooftop. Banks, Ed Harris and Kyra Sedgwick co-star. Release date: 2012.