Dissecting Jeff Goldblum!


Any fans of Jeff Goldblum in the house? Where you at? Seriously, is there a major Hollywood actor who has a more distinguished and discernible look than Mr. Goldbum? I know we Dissected Michael Berryman a ways back, and he certainly contends, but in terms of A-list talent, Jeff Goldblum sort of stands alone. With his own offbeat energy and comedic stylings, it's damn near impossible NOT to recognize pure Gold when he shows up on screen. It doesn't matter if its bit-cameo work in classics like THE SENTINEL or INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, or more pronounced parts in assorted genre joints like THE FLY, TWISTED OBSESSION, MR. FROST, DEEP COVER, FATHERS & SONS, JURASSIC PARK, HIDEAWAY, INDEPENDENCE DAY, etc. etc. Big movie or small, starring role or supporting, the Gold shines baby, the Gold shines!

So, in the lead up to the 20 year sequel INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESUREGENCE opening this Friday, we figured now is the perfect time to cut this tall mofo down to size and peer at his insides? Too gross? Nah, let's do it...let's Dissect the genre work of one Mr. Jeff Goldblum!



In what's set to celebrate its 30th birthday this August, it'd probably be a bit foolish to consider anything but THE FLY as JG's best genre piece. If not best all around, certainly his most psychically scarring! The inimitable body horror maestro David Cronenberg not only outdid himself with a movie that still holds up incredibly well 30 years later, but he so clearly, inarguably surpassed the 1958 original as well. Of course, so much of that has to do with the picture-perfect casting of Jeff Goldblum, himself a paragon of insectile features...the bug eyes, the lanky limbs, protruding forehead and the like. It's as if, even before the flesh-melting metamorphosis, Seth Brundle already subtly resembled a large housefly. Which is why the performance is such a good one, and why the movie has endured all these years as a makeup and FX driven masterstroke. Once Brundle's genes are accidently spliced, Goldblum slowly builds an ever-increasing bug-like demeanor. He grows restless, twitchy, jittery...slowly swapping his humanity for the survival mode of a coldblooded mutant. It's a hell of a performance, especially when asked to emote under nearly five pounds and five hours of makeup.

And it's not just his face. Jeff employs the whole instrument, his entire body for the role, a hunched over, coiled up monster whose fluidity makes the fly in the Vincent Price original seem so stiff. Along those very lines, word is Goldblum sent Price a letter after the movie was released that said how much he enjoyed the original film and that he hopes Price likes Cronenberg's version as much as his own. After seeing the film, Price responded that it was "wonderful right up to a certain point...it went a little too far." Well, I'd argue it's precisely because it pushed the envelope, that it indeed went too far, the movie has stood tall and remained an undoubted sci-fi horror classic. That said, I do often wonder what THE FLY would look like if Tim Burton, who was originally attached to direct, helmed the flick instead of Cronenberg. Chances are he would've cast Johnny Depp in the role, and we'd have never been treated to the breakout brilliance of Goldblum. In this movie and perhaps any other!


Take your pick. When you amass well over 100 screen credits over 40 odd years, there's bound to be some blemishes. I personally recall coming out of the theater after JURASSIC PARK: LOST WORLD and being physically upset over how dumb it was. Just fuming at newly 14 years old. But you can hardly pin that miss on Goldblum alone. One could easily cite the MST3K style campground of unabashed B-movie cheese called TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000, costarring Ed Begley Jr. This flick is so damn bad you'd think it's intentionally so. The two dopes play reporters who travel to Transylvania and square off with a parade of wacky iterations of classic Universal monsters, all of which amounts to one long, unfunny cartoon of a movie. But again, it almost feels as if it's by design.

One could therefore lambaste movies of Jeff's that are equally bad but take themselves dreadfully serious. POWDER is one such example, a stupid sight-gag punch-line of a flick from convicted felon Victor Salva. Or what about the insipid thriller HIDEAWAY, costarring Alicia Silverstone hot off of CLUELESS. Yup, totally forgettable. Or how about the Cyndi Lauper psychic thriller VIBES that used to run on an endless HBO loop in the early 90s? I'm still haunted by Michael Lerner's turn in that one. No, anyone who's seen the embarrassingly abysmal ESP thriller FATHERS & SONS from 1992 knows it's likely the biggest waste of Goldblum's talent. I mean, it came from the dude who wrote the Dennis Rodman/Van Damme flick DOUBLE TEAM. Enough said. FATHERS & SONS sees Jeff as bookish Jersey Shore father trying to establish a connection with his son. He meets a mysterious seer at a pier one day and is soon thrown headlong into a cat and mouse game with a deranged serial killer. Totally uninspired, not even the likes of Famke Janssen, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Imperioli and Samuel L. Jackson could save this sucker from the doldrums of sub-mediocrity. Avoid like the Zika!



Aside from the fact he starred in like 15 movies with Gena Davis, his short-lived wife, you'd have to say it's the unique appearance and strange line-deliveries that really set Jeff apart. Dude has a towering 6'4'' frame, which is often used to mold his characters. He also has that strange broken-line utterance, almost Shatner-like, where he stretches dialogue and halts between words during the middle of a sentence. Odd indeed. Unique for sure. There's also the trend in which Jeff tends to play high-minded intellectuals - scientists, doctors, etc. - usually eccentric ones that allocate and accentuate the previously mentioned trademarks. JURASSIC PARK and INDEPENDENCE DAY are perfect examples of this - huge FX driven moviemaking that relies on Jeff's personal, idiosyncratic touches to make such safe, formulaic material lastingly memorable. Even for the most palatable of blockbusters, Goldblum's eccentricity is used as currency to make the movie more interesting than the story might otherwise allow. Dude has that kind of invaluable it-factor!



Because of the global landmark movies he's partaken in, and the high profile he's enjoyed as a result, there are a number of projects of Goldblum's that have gone relatively unnoticed. I for one have always harbored a soft spot for the 1985 romp INTO THE NIGHT, directed by John Landis and costarring my girl Michelle Pfeiffer (her rare nude scene at that). It's essentially an odd-couple, on-the-run chase picture through LA, with Goldblum playing a poor bastard saddled with a hot blonde tasked with evading four hostile Iranians. Not a great film, but a damn underappreciated one. The same can be said for a pair of TV movies Jeff made early in his career, one in which he played infamous detective Ichabod Crane in LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW. He also did a movie called REHEARSAL FOR MURDER, in which his character plots a stage play that serves as a real-life trap to catch his wife's murderer. Pretty damn solid for a TV flick!

But if we're talking straight up genre joints, the most underrated of all has to be a 1990 Satanic thriller called MISTER FROST. Chilly indeed! See, in the film Jeff plays none other than Lucifer, appearing in the guise of a human. When the cops find some 24 victims' body parts buried throughout his garden, the man suddenly grows mute while interned at an insane asylum. It's there, in the hospital, that he convinces one of the doctors that he is indeed Satan, and then tries to provoke the female doctor to kill him. It's a strange flick, at once an asylum thriller and satanic serial killer flick. But make no mistake, Goldblum brings all of his trademark tics and tendencies to the role of Lucifer, creating a superhuman evil that many have failed to achieve when playing Satan incarnated in the flesh. Vincent Price included, a comparison to whom he already fared favorably to four years prior in THE FLY!



Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of genre bullets in Jeff's chamber at the moment. However, as noted up front, Goldblum reunites with super-spectacle hound Roland Emmerich for the grand return of incursive aliens via ID4: RESURGENCE. The flick opens everywhere this Friday (June 24th), with familiar faces like Bill Pullman, Vivica Fox and Judd Hirsch also onboard. Here's how the story shapes up this go around: We always knew they were coming back. After 'Independence Day' redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens' advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction. Joey King, Maika Monroe and Liam Hemsworth lead the youth charge in the film. Are you going to see if they can make a difference this weekend?!



Few actors possess the unique aura of Jeff Goldblum. Dude's a true original in that sense, and thankfully, he's blessed us all with one memorable genre turn after another for more than 30 years. THE SENTINEL, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, THRESHOLD, REHEARSAL FOR MURDER, INTO THE NIGHT, THE FLY, TWISTED OBSESSION, MISTER FROST, DEEP COVER, JURASSIC PARK, HIDEAWAY and INDEPENDENCE DAY have proven such, and we really hope the man keeps the tradition alive this month with ID4: RESURGENCE and even more so into the future. Hell, I'd like to see him do a Wes Anderson genre piece? How rad would that be?!

Extra Tidbit: Do you have a favorite JG turn?
Source: AITH



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