Up until the release of SCREAM 4, Emma Roberts was one of those actresses who always struck me as very talented but who had yet to really discover her potential and exploit it. Daughter of b-movie legend Eric Roberts and niece to Julia Roberts, Emma should’ve been an instant star.
You don’t come from that level of pedigree and not immediately walk out a megastar. Well, I guess you can, but Emma should've gone further than her career is at this point. Might be hard to believe with recent credits like SHARKTOPUS and WITLESS PROTECTION cluttering up his resume, but Eric Roberts hit big almost immediately back in the day. Dude did an opening one-two punch of THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE and RUNAWAY TRAIN back in 84/85. As for Julia, I don’t think I need to remind you that her first two big roles were in STEEL MAGNOLIAS and PRETTY WOMAN. There’s no excuse why Emma shouldn’t have been a bigger star by now.
SCREAM 4 is a nice start on a path to better things. Anyone who has seen that flick knows that Roberts totally owns the movie, outshining series vets Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Neve Campbell. Emma’s recent forays into the indie world are also a step in the right direction. My only hope is that she bails on making anymore kid’s pictures. Dopey stuff like HOTEL FOR DOGS, AQUAMARINE, SPYMATE and 40 episodes of something called UNFABULOUS might be why it has taken so long for this gal to hit the big time.
SCREAM 4 - Probably not Emma’s deepest work, but certainly her most impressive. Gal steals the show from everyone in it and changes the entire nature of the series in the process. Very impressive. It should also be mentioned that Emma rocks the whole “girl next door” look pretty hard. How somebody can be that sexy with so much clothing on is beyond me.
VALENTINE’S DAY - The easiest way to describe this pic is “LOVE ACTUALLY for Yanks”. Multi-storied and star-studded (aunt Julia shows up here, marking her first collaboration with Emma), not everything in this flick works. The bit with Jessica Alba goes nowhere, Bradley Cooper is underused, Ashton Kutcher is a little overused and there one too many coincidences for my taste. That having been said, when VALENTINE’S DAY works, it works. Emma’s storyline is one of the better ones and helps the audience muddle through the less-than-stellar bits.
NANCY DREW - Never saw this one, but quite a few people have told me that Emma was quite good in it. From my non-educated POV, DREW appears to be Emma’s first attempt at breaking out of the “kid pic” mold she was in at the time. Might have to check it out sometime, though my Drew will always be Pamela Sue Martin.
UNFABULOUS - Just like DREW, I haven’t seen this one. However, I cannot discount the fact that 40 episodes of a moderately popular teen show is a great way to kick off a career. Too bad that Emma chose to muck around a little too much teen tripe, but she does seem to be moving away from it. Let’s hope she sticks to her guns.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED HER IN
IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY - Despite the fact that the previews for this flick touted it as some wacky rom-com inside a psychiatric ward, STORY was really quite dark. Zack Galifianakis is the big star here, delivering a serio-comic performance that is miles better than his work in THE HANGOVER. Emma does well with what she is given, but I doubt highly that anyone would call her performance memorable. It’s a wallpaper performance, something pretty to focus on if the dark material gets to be too much for the audience.
4,3,2,1 - If there’s one movie on this entire list that I know you haven’t seen, it would be 4,3,2,1. A Brit-made PULP FICTION-esque romp directed by Noel Clarke (US audiences mostly know him as Mickey from DOCTOR WHO), Emma clocks in an extended cameo of sorts here. Can’t really say that it’s great (it’s not), but 4,3,2,1 is certainly fun. Emma seems out of place (as does a strange cameo by Kevin Smith) here, but does well with the little that she is given.
SPYMATE - Caught this on cable a couple of years ago and had to watch the entire film. Yes, I realize that this is a kid’s movie and there is absolutely nothing of interest for adults here. Thing is, SPYMATE is so gloriously bad (almost MST3K levels of epic awfulness) that I couldn’t NOT watch it. Damn thing demanded that allow it to assault my eyeballs and break my soul.
TWELVE - Speaking of eyeball assault, say hello to TWELVE. A misfire on almost every conceivable level, this is proof positive that Joel Schumacher no longer be allowed to make films. I will admit that Emma is actually pretty decent here. However, when the movie is this bad, it doesn’t really matter how good the performance is. All that matters is how bad the actual movie is and TWELVE is most certainly a bad film.
SCREAM 4 - Emma co-stars with Neve Campbell, Rory Culkin, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Alison Brie in this much-anticipated slasher sequel. SCREAM 4 is currently in theaters.
MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC - Not totally sure what the deal with this pic is but it appears to be a amnesia drama based on a popular novel by Gabrielle Zevin. A quick glance at the IMDB message boards seems to indicate that fans of the novel are quite upset that this film was made in Japan, set in Japan and features a mostly Japanese cast (with Americans Anton Yelchin and Roberts thrown in for good measure) despite the novel NOT taking place in Japan. Ouch. No word on when this will be hitting the US, but it is already widely available on DVD overseas.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH VIRGINIA - A Southern-fried dramedy featuring the talents of Roberts, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Jones and Amy Madigan, VIRIGINIA is set to hit theaters later this year.
THE ART OF GETTING BY - A Sundance favorite, this flick seems to be a return to FUNNY-territory for Roberts with her playing yet another damaged teenage girl who befriends a loveable loner (Freddie Highmore). Looks decent, if slightly unremarkable. This is set to open later this later.