POSTED April 29 2012

Jason Segel and The Rules of Engagement

Jason Segel, gentle giant

Of all the spaghetti thrown at the wall of Judd Apatow’s experimental kitchen, happily Jason Segel and Jonah Hill stuck. Segel, a gentle giant, a guy with a happy face atop a sad sack body, a manchild muddling through to what passes for maturity, the shaggy man of numerous shaggy dog stories, holds the screen in movie after movie, even one, like The Five-Year Engagement, with indifferent framing and pace. On the screen where so much humor relies on humiliation and sarcasm, ¬†Segel has perfected the unembarrassable and sincere guy inching into his next phase.

In the span of just a few weeks he has delivered surprising performances in Nicholas Stoller’s Engagement the Duplass Brothers’ Jeff, Who Live at Home, the latter of which is my favorite performance in an American movie so far this year. Segel often generates his own material (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets, Engagement), but is startlingly good as an actor-for-hire both in ¬†I Love You, Man and Jeff. In the first he is the gently boorish success, master of his man cave; in the second the agoraphobic couch spud cowering in Mom’s basement, completely believable as both.

For me, Segel is a puzzle I’m trying to work out. Any thoughts on his singular gifts and appeal?

one comment

  1. Stefan Blitz says:

    I think one of the most appealing things about Jason Segal is he truly comes across as a guy you might know.

    Whereas many of the Apatowians often seem to be trying too hard to be liked by everyone at once, Segal seems like a guy who’s trying to get the audience to root for him on an individual level rather than en masse.

    Unlike Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, et al., Segal’s characters all have a vulnerability and inherrantly likable quality that, in my opinion, is easier to connect to. He tends to stumble and make mistakes, but they all tend to revolve around the common theme of being a good person or love.

    Also, he’s also the only one who has a strong television presence, and has gained a strong level of likability on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER that carries over to his film work.

    His most effective roles he’s co-written for himself and I personally think when he ventures into directing he might make some really great, small films.

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