The Downfall of Bradley Cooper?

What’s going on Bradley Cooper?

I’ve been a fan of Bradley Cooper for half a decade now and it wasn’t because of the enormous popularity of The Hangover and let’s be honest, Cooper wasn’t the reason you saw that movie more than once.  I became a fan because of his entertaining turn in The A-Team. I knew the moment I walked out the theater, he had the potential to be more than just looks and wit. Luckily, I was right.

It’s been an almost surreal journey seeing him go from forgettable supporting player in Yes Man to four time Oscar nominated leading man.  Last year he released American Sniper and the world went wild for him and the movie.  It felt like the culmination of his award worthy work in Silvers Linings Playbook and American Hustle had finally paid off and he was finally going to get the respect he had so hard fought for.  But here’s the thing, sometimes when things rise so fast, there seems like an inevitable fall will follow. I was certain that was not going to happen to him, but after this year, I think I’m wrong.

Let’s back track to a time when Bradley Cooper was gaining momentum as a star. He was passed over for Green Lantern, which to me was a big mistake at the time, and he was set to star in a high concept thriller called, “The Dark Fields.” The next year, Green Lantern was released and was destroyed by the box office, critics, and comic book lovers. It was a bloodbath. You know what happened to the The Dark Fields? It was re-titled Limitless and became a success and was inching Cooper into the spotlight he deserved.

© 2011 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

© 2011 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

A year and a Hangover sequel later, Silver Linings Playbook was in motion to open during Thanksgiving weekend. The indie film was being touted as the comeback for director David O. Russell and for having another award worthy performance from Jenifer Lawrence. What was not being said was how Bradley Cooper was going to surprise us in a way that hadn’t been seen since Daniel Craig played James Bond for the first time. The pathos and charm he brought to his performance brought critics to it’s knees and his work was Oscar nominated for Best Actor. After the Academy Awards and the 130 million dollars made from Silver Linings Playbook, he had risen from bit player to bonafide star.

Three years, another Oscar nomination, and another Hangover sequel later, Cooper was set to release American Sniper. The trailer was breathtakingly intense and looked like it was going to be the next Born on the Fourth of July.  He had gained considerable muscle for the role and had been trying to get the film made for over three years. Now he had the body for the role and the prestige to get it made. On December 25th the film was released and something funny happened…

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His passion project had turned into a political talking point and mostly for the worst. Usually when a film grosses over 300 million and becomes the biggest film of the year, it’s met with a lot of discussion about how it managed to make that much money. American Sniper’s discussions were a lot different and more volatile. People had become viciously defensive of the movie and many were saying if you didn’t like it, you were against America. I’m not kidding, I worked at a movie theater at the time and a costumer over heard me saying something negative about it and threatened to tell HR I was against an “American Hero” and was being shameful to America.

To believe a movie almost cost me my job was incomprehensible to me. However, I find it even more sad that people couldn’t just enjoy how far Bradley had come and how hard he worked for it.  Cooper did his best to distance himself from the political discussions of the film and wanted to focus the attention on his performance (which is what good actors do) and why the film was a passion project. The night after the film left empty handed from the Oscars, people once again turned the film into a political issue. Instead of blaming the quality of the film for it’s failure to win Oscars, audiences blamed Muslims. Once again, I’m not kidding.

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Fast forward to May of this year and he’s being talked about in a different light. No one’s talking about how transformative he was in his Tony nominated performance in The Elephant, people are talking about how bad his new film Aloha is going to be. Barely anyone has seen it yet but a hacked email from chairperson of Sony, Amy Pascal, showed what kind of state the film was in. The email stated Aloha never worked on any level and that she was never going to greenlight a film based on her love for the people involved again.  It’s ironic that Pascal’s love for people involved, especially her love for Cooper, lead to him getting some of the worst reviews he’s ever received.

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After the bomb known as Aloha came and went, Cooper was gearing up for his other passion project about a former drug addict chef who is looking for redemption.  I will admit, I was very curious of the film during it’s production but when it was given the generic title, Burnt, I let out a slight sigh.   In a sign of no confidence, the studio decided to release the film on Halloween weekend, which is notorious for being a slow weekend filled with leftovers and terrible horror movies.  In an effort to try to get people to see this film, the advertisements made it seem glossy and broad,  which I guess is what they think audiences want in their films.

Here’s my bone to pick with the marketing though, not once did they try to make Bradley look likeable. Not once did they show him ooze that charisma us audiences had become accustomed too.  They showed all the negative qualities of the character and Cooper looked bored doing it. If I didn’t know better, it seemed like this was made before Limitless brought him some of the attention he deserved.  This weekend Burnt was released and failed to even make 6 million dollars in over 2,000 screens. To put this in perspective, Borat made 26 million opening weekend in only 800 screens.

How did he go from four time Oscar nominee to a two bombs in a row A-lister?  Are we rejecting him because we’ve grown tired of him or is the quality of work to blame? We could blame the quality of work but Adam Sandler made millions for ten years releasing garbage after garbage.  I think this is just a rough patch but the failures are too big to ignore. His next films are not too encouraging either because one of them involves him playing the voice of a dog.  When he did the voice of Rocket Raccon it was an opportunity for him to flex his comedic muscle but him voicing a dog in a Hallmark-esque film is sad to me.  He deserves better than this and I don’t want him to just disappear into random leading man parts and overblown action films (I’m looking at you Liam Neeson.) I hope this isn’t his downfall…I hope this is the moment he realizes he can and will do better.

I believe in him. Do you?

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