POSTED July 2 2012

Matthew McConaughey, winner of the Paul Newman triathlon

Matthew McConaughey in "Magic Mike"

A couple of clicks after Matthew McConaughey made a memorable impression as Wooderson in Dazed and Confused  it looked like he would get stuck permanently in the swampy pieties of Grishamlandia or sink shirtless into the quicksand of retrograde romantic comedies. For an actor hailed early in his career as the next Paul Newman, it seemed that McConaughey’s choices might be used to illustrate that Hollywood cautionary tale,  How to Lose a Career in 10 Minutes.

(You don’t remember Wooderson, unrepentant connoisseur of weed and jailbait, who smacked lips at a 16-year-old and said, “That’s what I love about high school girls, man, I get older, they stay the same”?)

Yet every time I wrote off McConaughey as a molasses-glazed torso with a honey-dripping drawl, he would surprise me with his conscience-pricked performance in 13 Conversations About One Thing or his hilarious turn as the dumbfounded talent agent (a role originally meant for Owen Wilson)  in Tropic Thunder. I would momentarily forgive McConaughey Sahara and Fools Good and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and conclude that where he belonged was in ensemble movies where he could shine for a minute or two and go back to beating his bongo drums.

Then he surpassed (my admittedly low) expectations  in The Lincoln Lawyer, a seamy and snappy LA legal procedural he carried almost solo, and reminded me of Drowning Pool-era Paul Newman. And McConaughey is reptilian fun as the exploitive strip-joint owner in Magic Mike, a cobra in a spangled thong. It seems that McConaughey has completed and won the Paul Newman triathlon of hellraiser, himbo and hombre.

Looking forward to McConaughey’s performances in Killer Joe and The Paperboy. You?




  1. Miz Val says:

    Time to Kill,Lincoln Lawyer and Tropic Thunder are my favorites.Sorry Carrie he did not do it for me in Magic Mike.After watching that movie yesterday all I wanted to do was go home and take a shower to make sure I did not smell like the body oil that was flying around on that film.Best part about that film I got to see Alex Pettyfer my candidate to star as Christian Grey in 50 Shades Grey.

  2. Joe says:

    Carrie! McConaughey is experiencing a really interesting resurgence (comeback?), starting with “The Lincoln Lawyer,” a wonderful ’70s-like entertainment. You saw that title as a Paul Newman vehicle; for me, it echoed vintage Burt Reynolds. I thought MM was a hoot in both “Magic Mike” and “Bernie,” turning in truly game performances. And,yes, I eagerly await “Killer Joe” and “The Paperboy.” But you forgot “Mud,” the festival darling that MM made with Reese Witherspoon,Michael Shannon and Sam Shepard that is also on the horizon. He’s really become prolific of late – and, again, interesting.

  3. Carrie Rickey says:

    @Miss Val: After Magic Mike I showered immediately. Still, I think MM was swell. @Joe: Yes, Fprgot “Mud.”

  4. Annette Insdorf says:

    I’ve seen “The Paperboy” as well as “Mud,” and I can attest to McConaughey’s impressive versatility this year. I agree, Carrie, that he was terrific in films like “13 Conversations About One Thing,” and I think he’s back on an upward curve. Personally, I found “Magic Mile” to be a hoot, and thoroughly enjoyed his performance.

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