Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Actor Allergies and Leslie Nielsen Syndrome

I think of myself as an omnivore -- both of food and film -- but am allergic to certain actors. Maybe it's an allergy to certain actors in certain roles. Watching the World Series last night, I got hives from the ad for the forthcoming A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey (in four roles). While the allergy didn't prevent me from enjoying The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, (films in which the funnyman dials his Jimness down to three on a scale of ten), it distracts from the experience of Carrey flicks such as Liar, Liar and Dumb and Dumber. I also have a partial allergy to Kevin Costner: While I thoroughly enjoy Bull Durham and Tin Cup, Costner's self-importance in The Postman and Waterworld has me reaching for the Benadryl.

Actor Allergies and Leslie Nielsen Syndrome

Leslie Nielsen, surprised by his comic skills
Leslie Nielsen, surprised by his comic skills

 I think of myself as an omnivore -- both of food and film -- but am allergic to certain actors. Maybe it's an allergy to certain actors in certain roles. Watching the World Series last night, I got hives from the ad for the forthcoming A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey (in four roles). While the allergy didn't prevent me from enjoying The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, (films in which the funnyman dials his Jimness down to three on a scale of ten), it distracts from the experience of Carrey flicks such as Liar, Liar and Dumb and Dumber. I also have a partial allergy to Kevin Costner: While I thoroughly enjoy Bull Durham and Tin Cup, Costner's self-importance in The Postman  and Waterworld has me reaching for the Benadryl.

My self-diagnosis: I'm not completely allergic to actors but might have Leslie Nielsen syndrome, named for the wooden straight actor of the '50s and '60s who re-emerged in the '80s as the deft farceur of The Naked Gun flicks. Don't think much of him in drama and melodrama, but as a comic he's divoon. In other words, I am allergic to certain actors in certain types of roles, for instance, Jeanette MacDonald, who made frothy comedies for Paramount early in her career and wooden operettas for MGM in her later years. Love her Paramount comedies, can't watch the MGM operettas. Similarly, love Wesley Snipes in White Men Can't Jump and Jungle Fever but cannot cannot cannot watch him in the Blade movies.

I may be completely allergic to Nicole Kidman, who not only played a Stepford Wife but seems like one on screen. Yet I thought she was the only good thing about Eyes Wide Shut. In terms of classic stars, just don't get June Allyson (except in Good News), Robert Taylor (too pretty, but perfect in Camille), Luise Rainier and Danny Kaye (though I have a soft spot for Merry Andrew). 

Do you suffer from Leslie Nielsen syndrome? Which actors or actresses trigger it? Are you completely allergic to a performer? Who? Why? 

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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