As the January magazines mentally mug you with diet plans, detoxes and promises to transform your life in two and a half hours, I’ve noticed they’re dodging the real conundrum 2010 poses- are you a Russell Brand or are you a Hugh Grant? You can’t be both, or you’ll end up as Russell Grant and jolly though he seems, I want you to aim higher.
Grant is back on our big screens disgracing himself in a film so bad it seems like a spoof from an episode of The Simpsons. What happens when a bumbling Englishman and his uptight New York wife witness a murder and end up in witness protection in small town America? – Hilarity!? A bit about a bear!? Urinating on any credibility you have ever achieved in your entire adult career?!! I haven’t even seen this film and already it makes me wish the polar caps would hurry up and drown me before in some cruel twist of fate I’m forced to stare in its direction and am unable to avert or close my eyes.
“Did you Hear about the Morgans” may just sound like your average rip off of “City Slickers” a dead eyed, cynical molestation of Curley’s memory but if you’re very quiet you’ll hear the gentle whimper of both lead actors finally giving up hope. Sarah Jessica Parker ,playing the brittle New York harridan, was once a promising actress but seems to have accepted she is doomed to play Carrie from “Sex and the City” in every other film she makes. Now, from what I remember all Carrie ever did was pout, tilt her head down and act like a five year old girl with special needs so I doubt we’ll ever be blessed with her Lady Macbeth.
Grant now seems to hate his audiences almost as much as he hates himself. Like a faded tart applying her makeup of yesteryear, he smears on the bizarre mannerisms and increasingly grotesque stuttering and eye poppings of the English gent persona that made him seem a breath of fresh air over fifteen years ago, and boy does that air now reek. His career has followed a Benjamin Button trajectory, moving from working with Polanski to milking a cow with Mrs. Big. The diffident, hapless air in interviews that seemed so appealing when he was younger now seems arrogant and imperious. He finds film making hideous, he’d rather be playing golf, he really should sit down and write that book he -one wonders why the man doesn’t just bugger off then.
It’s a lesson to us all, what happens when we sheepishly take the cheque and avoid eye contact with themselves in the mirror. We can all slip into it- You’re at the pub and you suddenly get a rush of certainty that you’re above all this, you can’t be arsed to make conversation, bloody Sandra Bullock in ringing on the mobile and you suddenly really feel like using a prostitute. You know you should make your excuses, go home and kill yourself but can’t be bothered. Do not let this be the year of being Hugh Grant. If you ever feel like being that lazy, pop on “Bridget Jones” and think, yes it is a zesty, witty romp, Renee Zelwegger is adorable but how would I feel on my death bed knowing this was the epoch of my professional life, a giddy artistic peak I would never ever scale again. Look into that heart of darkness and then go for a run or something.
Luckily there is an alternative to that corroding, fossilising cynicism - a bit of joie to vivre, a burning curiosity to try everything twice; take life by the cojones a little. This year, why not connect with your inner Russell Brand. Brand is the anti- Grant, a sweaty, hairy, working class grafter to his squeaky clean, lazy , fop. While Grant’s on screen fear of women always had shadows of passive aggression, Brand seems fuelled by his earthy lust for all things feminine.
Brand may irritate as many as he attracts but there’s no denying he’s a trier. His ebullient enthusiasm has seen him hooked on heroin, a sex addict, a millionaire comic with a burgeoning film career and now a pop star girlfriend in the form of Katie Perry. The pair spent Christmas at her parents’ house where Brand managed to win around her born again Christian preacher parents. He then surprised his poppet with a romantic trip to India, where he proposed. All wonderful things but all requiring making a bloody effort. In contrast Hugh Grant is single, still kind of seeing the fragrant Jemima Khan after dating Liz Hurley for over fifteen years.
Never mind Hannah Waterman’s new fitness regime, if you really want to make 2010 interesting , Brand is the one you should be copying.