A-List: Chris Pratt
The summer movie season is winding down as kids across the country are mostly back in school It’s been a lousy summer for Hollywood. It’s been so bad, that the studios could barely breathe a sigh of relief when two late summer releases over-performed. Last week, the third and likely final movie in the Expendables franchise tanked. This weekend, Expendables 3 dropped out of the top five entirely leaving a lot of aging action stars crying in their beers. The lone hold out from The Expendables 3, Bruce Willis, returned for Sin City 2, the long delayed sequel to the 2005 comic book noir hit. Even without the convenient excuse of an internet leak, Sin City 2 opened below The Expendables 3. That shredding sound you hear is everyone in Hollywood losing Frank Miller’s phone number.
The biggest new release this week was the adaptation of the YA novel, If I Stay. That movie, which starred Chloe Moretz, opened at #1 on Friday but fell behind during the remainder of the weekend. It will land at #3 for the weekend behind the massively popular holdovers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The space adventure from Marvel Studios reclaimed the #1 spot during its fourth week in theaters and will officially become the highest grossing film of the 2014 summer box office. Which is a dubious distinction considering how poorly the summer box office has performed, but appropriate for a movie about losers who come out on top.
As the lead of Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt is now poised for big things. He’s launched a charm offensive by entertaining sick kids in costume and posting one of the more memorable ice bucket challenge videos. But has the Summer of Pratt earned the actor a spot on the A-list?
The short answer is “no”. A slightly longer answer would be “not yet”. But with Jurassic World right around the corner, Pratt’s ascension to the A-list seems pretty inevitable at this point. Typically, I am of the opinion that starring in a hit Marvel movie doesn’t count for all that much. It will raise your profile, sure, but unless your name is Robert Downey Jr, the character gets the credit. That was true for Chrises Hemsworth and Evans. But in the case of Guardians of the Galaxy, even comic book fans didn’t know who these characters were. Sure, the Marvel brand gets the bulk of the credit. And writer/director James Gunn gets his share. But as the charismatic center of the movie, Pratt gets more credit than the typical Marvel star.
From 2002-2006, Pratt had a supporting role in the critically praised but low-rated TV drama, Everwood. Treat Williams starred as a neurosurgeon who moves his family from Manhattan to a small town in Colorado after the death of his wife. His older son, played by Gregory Smith, nursed a crush on a local girl played by Emily VanCamp. Pratt played Van Camp’s older brother. But in reality, they were a couple.
After Everwood’s cancellation, Pratt jumped onto another sinking ship. He appeared in nine episodes of the final season of the teen soap opera, The O.C. The O.C. was on the bubble after a weak third season. But eventually, the network agreed to a sixteen-episode commitment with an option to add more if ratings improved. Despite the addition of Pratt as funny guy, Che, ratings did not improve and the show was cancelled.
Pratt began making appearances in small roles on the big screen. For example, in the 2008 action movie, Wanted, Pratt played James McAvoy’s obnoxious friend and co-worker, Barry. Barry is not-so-secretly having an affair with McAvoy’s girlfriend and ends up taking a keyboard to the face.
In 2009, Pratt appeared in the rom-com, Bride Wars. In Bride Wars, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson played best friends battling over the same wedding date. Ugh. Message to the ladies: If you continue to go see movies that insult your intelligence, Hollywood will keep making stupid romantic comedies in which best friends behave like squabbling toddlers over a shared wedding date. Pratt played Hathaway’s fiance.
Later that year, Pratt had a supporting role in the horror-comedy, Jennifer’s Body. That movie was supposed to establish Megan Fox as an A-list star. Instead, it flopped and helped send Fox into exile.
2009 is also when Pratt returned to television. This time, he played a dim-bulb slacker on the NBC sitcom, Parks and Recreation. NBC has announced that next year’s seventh season will be the show’s last. The show, which stars Saturday Night Live vet Amy Poehler, has been a critical darling. But it has never been a big success in the ratings. Pratt plays Rashida Jones’ ex-boyfriend, Andy. The character was intended to be a guest star. But the producers liked Pratt so much they upgraded him to a regular immediately after casting him.