Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lowe Man on the Totem Pole

Rob Lowe is too good looking, that's it.

If you looked up Hollywood Handsome in the dictionary, there Lowe's photo would be. The rock jaw, the steel blue eyes, the wavy dark hair. He was born to be on the screen. He came out of the womb looking for his mark. His first words were likely, "Feed me on my good side."

Lowe is too good looking---that's all I can think of. Because he never gets credit for being one of America's great actors.

There's a mystique formulated by moviegoers and critics that says if you're pretty enough to launch ships or handsome enough to stop traffic, then you're not acting up there, you're mesmerizing the audience.

That must be why Lowe, 49, is treated like just another pretty face.

He hasn't won anything yet, which is a crime. Lowe has been nominated a few times for awards---most notably for his work on The West Wing. But he's come away empty every time. There must have been someone less attractive going up against him.

Just because you're so good looking that it makes a guy like me want to cry, doesn't mean that you can't act your way out of a paper bag.

Lowe is lighting it up now on Nat Geo's Killing Kennedy, playing the 35th president in a movie that concentrates on the lives of JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald as they were on a collision course in history, culminating in the tragic events of November 22, 1963.

Lowe as President Kennedy isn't a square peg in a round hole. He's fantastic---as usual---as Kennedy, nailing the late president's Massachusetts dialect, which other actors who have played JFK have butchered, quite frankly.



We first met Rob Lowe as he was a member of the so-called "Brat Pack" of actors who took Hollywood by storm starting in the mid-1980s. Serious Lowe fans trace his career even further back, as Sodapop Curtis in The Outsiders, released in 1983.

My first Lowe memory was his turn in 1986's About Last Night..., as he played Danny Martin, who has a moment of weakness with Demi Moore's Debbie, which leads to an ill-advised decision to move in together.

I have watched the film many times, and each time I am struck by Lowe's acting chops, even at the tender age of 22 that he was when the film was released. Part of my gauge of an actor is what he or she does when there is no dialogue. It's when Lowe doesn't speak in About Last Night that he's at his best.

I can go on and on. There was the villain Lowe, as he played evil yuppie Alex to James Spader's straight-laced Michael Boll in 1990's Bad Influence, which I maintain is one of the most underrated films about the human condition and vulnerability to manipulation as any that has ever been made.

Lowe was chilling in Bad Influence, accompanying his twisted mentality with that handsome smile all the way.

I must admit that it hasn't helped Lowe's cause that he's made some simply God awful movies, and has lowered himself in the process. We can also talk about sex tapes and a bizarre Academy Awards song and dance with Disney's Snow White, but that's getting off track.

I like Rob Lowe. And I liked watching him in Killing Kennedy, although the work wasn't terribly notable for being anything of the cutting edge variety. As far as I'm concerned, anytime you can play a U.S. president and not besmirch the office, you've done OK. Lowe was certainly not out of place as JFK.

Rob Lowe has come a long way since playing Sodapop Curtis in a coming-of-age, cult flick.

If only he wasn't so easy on the eyes, maybe he'd be taken more seriously as an actor. Maybe he'd start winning some awards.

Lowe isn't just another pretty face. He's just another pretty face who can act. Like, as in his rear end off.

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