Anyone who’s watched television over the last two months has seen this ubiquitous Taco Bell commercial. Commercials for enormous national chains always cause me to default to thinking about this Onion article. What they’re advertising and how they do it is immaterial, they’re Taco Bell, you know what you’re getting yourself into. After Taco Bell discontinues the Quad Steak Burrito and introduces their new Fresh Summer Baja Burrito with Chipotle Cheese (I have no inside knowledge, if this is an upcoming burrito, I will sue), this commercial, and its content, will be forgotten.

But before we allow this Taco Bell commercial to disappear into the aether, I want to recognize the work done by Chris Wylde as the generic lounge singer character. Chris Wylde’s been in movies I’ve seen on Comedy Central because there’s nothing else on (“Joe Dirt,” “Evolution”), but I’ve forgotten his work. His Wikipedia page manages biographical completeness despite noting only two article references. But with relentless, desperate energy he makes this role in the Taco Bell commercial a star turn.

Chris Wylde sings about the Quad Steak Burrito with an uncommon energy. He throws his entire body into the act, endearingly chewing scenery as he navigates through the catchy jingle. The costume and cheesy moustache are superfluous, because Chris Wylde performs the song precisely. There’s no doubting who his character is, where his career has left him and his sense of the moment.

I can’t predict greatness for Chris Wylde, there’s a once in a lifetime quality to this performance. Something about this Taco Bell commercial drew out every ounce of talent, energy and focused performance from Chris Wylde and he deserves to be recognized for elevating a 30-second spot for a horrendous chain’s new bowel-rattling meal. Cynicism and melancholy are the two immediate responses elicited from suggesting a performer’s greatest performance is in a commercial of this nature, but it’s not intended.

Great job, Chris Wylde. You performed the Taco Bell Quad Steak Burrito song better than anyone else in the world could have and that’s staggering to consider.


Bob Roberts (1992)

February 13, 2011

Tim Robbins, caricature, is easily defined. He’s an over-the-top, bleeding-heart, flower-power, 60’s style liberal, so relentless in his card carrying counter-culturalism that his unmarriage with Susan Sarandon bordered on farcical.

Tim Robbins, actor, is a study in intricacy. A lesser talent equipped with his beanstalk-figure, wide smile and easy charm could sleepwalk through a long slapstick comedy career. Robbins, though, imbues his characters with a restless, obvious interior life with as little as a glance.

“Bob Roberts” is a result of Robbins’s artistic vision, talent and versatility. He wrote, directed and starred in the politically prescient piece. He created the original, catchy songs with his brother David.* Though the second half of the movie suffers from uneven pacing and odd plot choices, Robbins’s performance remains remarkable.

Robbins’s Roberts earns almost all of the film’s screen time, as the focal point of the mockumentary, but the character is unknowable. He’s a substance-free Everyman, a blank slate, a perfect politician allowing his constituency the opportunity to project their opinons as his. Robbins resists overplaying the villainous Roberts. He has myriad opportunities to chew scenery, to sneer malevolently, but he remains constant in his subtlety and the film is richer for it.

“Bob Roberts” features other fine performances from Alan Rickman and an extremely young, round-faced, wide-eyed (seriously, they look like they have a circumference of 4π inches) Jack Black, but it’s Robbins’s work, both on screen and off, that keeps the film in your head for days.

Verdict: Highly Recommended

*Tim Robbins refused to allow the studio to release a soundtrack for Bob Roberts because he didn’t want anyone to misappropriate the music.

New Space

February 13, 2011

I’m thinking out loud in a new space.

This is a placeholder post, when you see this, in the future, when this blog is chugging-along, ignore it.

This post will remain here, time immemorial.