This is worthy of a Hollywood quiz question, one that could stump even the biggest of movie fans. Name the last three theatrical movies which starred Jack Black? Oh well, try remembering at least one of them. You are going to be left scratching your head. Surprisingly, Jack Black, an actor who is quite funny and fun to watch, has been seen very little of on the big screen in recent years, and even when he has chosen a movie, its fate has not been too memorable. He is seen on the television more nowadays as part of the series called The Brink. But this weekend, Black will appear on the big screen too in Goosebumps, which looks more interesting than his last three movie roles put together. Which brings us back to – which were the last three movies of Jack Black? Ignoring the ones in which he had uncredited roles, let’s look at the last three movies of Jack Black.
The D Train (2015)
Jack Black in fact had a movie appearance earlier this year itself. The movie was called The D Train in which Black played the head of a high school reunion committee who tracks down the most popular guy (played by James Marsden) from his graduating class to convince him to go to the reunion. That doesn’t make for much of an interesting plot, and the public largely seems to have agreed to that. After a premiere in the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015, The D Train had a limited release in the USA in May 2015. But it never got past 1,009 theatres and did not even play for more than two weeks, earning slightly less than $0.7 million as against its production budget of $3 million. Reviews were hardly any good, though the critics were largely supportive of Jack Black’s performance. That wasn’t enough though to keep this movie in our memory!
We have to go back in time to 2012 to find another Jack Black movie (ignoring his uncredited role in 2014’s The Sex Tape). That seems ages ago, doesn’t it? Bernie is in fact a 2011 film, having been showcased in the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2011. But the theatrical release in the USA came in April 2012, and so from the perspective of the general audience, we can consider it to be a 2012 film. Bernie is a black comedy directed by none other than Richard Linklater, and it did receive a lot of critical acclaim. It narrates the story of an affable mortician (played by Jack Black) who strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, but later goes to great lengths to separate himself from her grasp after she starts to become controlling. Bernie also stars Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey. The movie largely enjoyed favourable reviews and holds a 90% score on Rottentomatoes, which is pretty amazing! Jack Black came out as the biggest winner from the movie, earning a Golden Globe nomination besides a few others. The movie may still not be easy to recollect, because it did not gather much love from the audience. It earned $9.2 million at the box-office as against its production budget of $10 million, which puts it in the ‘flop’ category. The current Imdb score is also quite average at 6.8. So even though Bernie should count as one of the best Jack Black movies, I doubt I will ever prefer it over School of Rock!
The Big Year (2011)
The Big Year released in October 2011, a few months after Jack Black was in the spotlight again having voiced Po in the animated movie Kung Fu Panda 2. Now The Big Year is an outright comedy movie (or at least, attempted to be) with a well-recognised cast in the form of Steve Martin and Owen Wilson apart from Jack Black. But none of them are a major box-office draw to be honest, and if the movie’s quality ain’t good, then it ain’t gonna sell. That’s what eventually happened. The movie’s story had a bit of promise, about two bird enthusiasts trying to defeat the cocky world record holder in a year-long bird-spotting competition, but its execution was way off the mark. Director David Frankel did not come anywhere close to what he had delivered back in 2006 with The Devil Wears Prada. The critics did not warm up to the movie – 40% score on Rottentomatoes – and the audience chose to stay away too – $7.5 million box-office earnings as against a production budget of $41 million. Oh my!
Goosebumps releases amongst tough competition this weekend, as Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak battle it out. But a hit movie is due in Jack Black’s career for a while, and it might just happen now!