Do We Need to Stage a Career Intervention For Rachel McAdams?

RachelMcAdams300b.jpgWay back in June, Spyglass Entertainment debuted the first trailer for The Vow, the latest Rachel McAdams romance film involving memory loss. It was depressing to see our former Notebook sweetheart diving headfirst into another melodramatic title. Like McAdams's Vow character though -- who is struck with amnesia after a parked car accident involving an overplayed Meatloaf single -- I forgot about the former starlet's downwardly spiraling filmography...until today's new preview for The Vow reminded me, it's about time someone stages a career intervention for Rachel McAdams.

Exhibit A in the case for Rachel McAdams to stop and seriously re-evaluate the direction of her career: The trailer that incited this intervention.

To paraphrase McAdams's The Vow character, who pleads with her husband (Channing Tatum) to turn off Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love" shortly before "the accident:" You do not like these kinds of melodramatic films, Rachel. Please stop. This is the second amnesiac romantic drama character you've played, who, over the course of a movie, must fall back in love with your husband. (Sure, most of the memory loss in The Notebook was left to Gena Rowlands, who played your older counterpart, but still!) One amnesia-torn love story is enough. It is not just that, though.

It is McAdams's humdrum choices ever since 2004's The Notebook and 2005's Wedding Crashers, both of which pitted the actress in the kind of role she has never strayed far from: Charming upper middle class white girl love interest.

To her credit, McAdams has tested different genre waters (albeit unsuccessfully). There was the plane thriller Red Eye, the cancer holiday picture The Family Stone, the period drama Married Life, the army road movie The Lucky Ones, the political thriller State of Play, the adapted romance The Time Traveler's Wife, the blockbuster Sherlock Holmes and the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris. Unfortunately, in spite of these wide-ranging genres and the potential stage they each offered McAdams to break out of her shell and play anyone other than a distant Allie Hamilton relative, McAdams seems to reiterate the same character repeatedly.

Granted, some actresses have been able to mine successful careers out of that no-range formula if they (or their managers) have an eye for blockbusters. Case in point: Katherine Heigl, who always plays Katherine Heigl, and until The Killers, enjoyed box office popularity because of her keen guilty pleasure picks in Knocked Up, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth.

But post-Notebook McAdams has neither given us films that audiences care to see (unless she is in a supporting role) or powerful dramatic performances that have established her as anything but a rom-com star who can score big at the box office with the right co-star.

I root for McAdams, and I hope that she can eventually prove her range as an actress that viewers once expected great things from. Please Rachel, stop whiffing at the plate with rom-coms and start giving viewers the kinds of performances they expected from you after seeing Mean Girls.

There is a glimmer of hope...the upcoming Untitled Terrence Malick project to which McAdams is attached with Jessica Chastain, Ben Affleck, Rachel Weisz and Javier Bardem. The drama may sound like a formulaic rom-com -- it "centers on a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart" -- but at this point, I'll trade in any of her 2005 to 2011 credits for a well-directed Rachel McAdams romance...or if I can't have that, short-term amnesia.


  • SK says:

    Yes, she needs to go on a permanent vacation. She's a very bad actress and the only thing she was even mildly watchable in was State of Play.

  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    Amnesia! Wow, maybe these filmmakers are suffering from it since they forgot that good ol' amnesia has been used as a plot device ad nauseam, from Total Recall to 50 First Dates to Gilligan's Island. Snap out of it! You were hit in the head and are acting like hacks!

  • Noah James says:

    On the other hand, her big break was The Hot Chick. So...grain of salt, I guess.

  • alison says:

    i liked a lot of the films you mentioned as her "downward spiral"! there was also "morning glory" which was actually a very good movie, and a different kind of character. but i agree, she does a lot of melodramatic roles. maybe she just has trouble getting work in other kinds of movies, it's a competetive industry, you can't always get the roles you want. i'd love to see her play another sassy role, like in "mean girls".

  • stolidog says:

    She should be the new Debra Winger, but Hollywood needs to drop the shitty romcoms first and go back to gritty romance.

  • Alex says:

    You're an idiot. The only one who needs a permanent vacation is you. You must prefer emotionless bimbos like Fox and Alba. Piss off, hater.

  • MD says:

    "You're an idiot. The only one who needs a permanent vacation is you. You must prefer emotionless bimbos like Fox and Alba. Piss off, hater."
    Of course the commenter must prefer "emotionless bimbos" since he clearly doesn't favor Rachel McAdams, as you so clearly do.
    If you aren't capable of presenting your opinion without relying on hyperbolic, ad-hominem juvenile bullshit, you should'nt comment here.
    Be better.

  • blizzard bound says:

    I thought she did a great job in The Lucky Ones, Julie. I wouldn't classify that film as "unsuccessful."

  • Jenna says:

    In what world does a Terrence Malick movie EVER sound like a rom-com???
    Anyway, this looks contrived but it was supposed to be based on a true story which was a first for her... I don't have a problem with the memory loss plot device (similar but different people) but the trailer makes it look too sugar coated.

  • I wouldn't mind seeing someone remix _Badlands_ into a rom-com trailer. Could be golden!

  • Morgo says:

    I like her, and go see lots of movies she's in, but it's mainly goodwill left over from Mean Girls that she hasn't wrecked by being in anything I truly hated, rather than her being in a string of movies I enjoyed.

  • blip says:

    She was perfect as a resourceful B-thriller heroine in "Red Eye," and she easily could have received a Best Supporting Actress nod for "The Lucky Ones." But, yeah, she needs to steer clear of the saccharine. "The Vow" and its ilk seem like the kind of movies that women's-women actresses like Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, or Joan Crawford would have broken studio contracts to avoid.