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Old 09-23-2018, 03:02 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is online now
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Sympathy for the Asshole: or, an article that actually moderates my opinion of Chevy Chase

I've never been a fan of actor Chevy Chase. I'd have to go back over forty years to find anything he did that I find the least bit funny. His entire schtick seemed to consist of the springing of irony and breaking the fourth wall on an unsophisticated TV public who'd never seen Ernis Kovacs, Dick Cavett or the Smothers Brothers do it a decade earlier. It was buoyed up by the fact that he was a rich, young, handsome WASP: he was Chevy Chase, and we weren't.

He also had an ugly assholish side that leaked out when he had to ad lib. His crack about Cary Grant is a typical example.

I do love "Caddyshack", but for me, that movie was 95% Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight. You could replace Chase's scenes with test patterns, and I'd enjoy it just as much. The same goes for his performances in the "Vacation" franchise (although I admit to having first encountered the stories as written (by John Hughes) in the National Lampoon, where they were told in the much funnier, first-person perspective of Clark Griswold's more precocious adolescent son. So I didn't care for the picture adaptations much at all, not just Chase's performances).

Anyway.

This Washington Post article (which is behind a paywall) talks about Chase's current predicament: he's conquered some recurring substance abuse problems, and would like to work, but no one wants to hire him.

People quoted in the article invariably talk about assholish things he's done, which certainly dovetailed with my opinion of him.

But the article goes on to report that Chase had a painful childhood. His parents divorced when he was young, and he was raised by an abusive mother, the kind who controlled by tearing into a kid's self-esteem. The result of this is supposedly an insecurity that drives his snotty aloofness. It may also be why he can't distinguish between cutting-edge irreverance and cruelty (as with the Cary Grant comment).

I'd long known that he was heir to a large fortune (the Crane plumbing fixtures corporation), so I admit that I never expected that he had that kind of hardship in his early life. And I understand that material wealth doesn't magically erase those issues.

I still don't think the guy is funny (although I admittedly tuned him out long ago). But maybe I'll cut him a little slack now.
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Old 09-23-2018, 03:08 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Does he have to stop being filthy rich?

I can’t say I feel sorry for him. There are thousands of talented people trying to make it in show business who never get a proper chance. It’s no tragedy if being an asshole your whole professional life reaps its rewards.
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Old 09-23-2018, 03:24 PM
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This Washington Post article (which is behind a paywall) talks about Chase's current predicament: he's conquered some recurring substance abuse problems, and would like to work, but no one wants to hire him.
Chase had his chance at turning around his career and public image when he was cast on Community. But as soon as he regained any kind of success, his asshole nature reasserted itself.

As for claims that he's changed this time, he was just bashing people (the current SNL cast) in an interview last week.

It's sad that he had a bad childhood. But he's 74 years old. It's no longer an excuse for the way he's behaved for the past fifty years.
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Old 09-23-2018, 03:47 PM
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Does he have to stop being filthy rich?
Nah, he also stopped being good-looking a long time ago.
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:19 PM
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Excellent, interesting OP. I agree with everything, except this:

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...I do love "Caddyshack"
and this:

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...maybe I'll cut him a little slack now.

mmm
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:57 PM
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I remember when he had a late-night talk show that garnered such low ratings, it was simply cancelled one day.
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Old 09-23-2018, 05:46 PM
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Having a shitty childhood doesn't actually make someone an interesting artist. I'd much rather read a Washington Post article promoting Danny Pudi or Yvette Nicole Brown.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:30 PM
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Hmm. I had a "mixed" childhood; mostly very normal, even very good; but mixed with some horrifically abusive moments (periods, even) that scarred me irrevocably.

No one, not family, friends, or employers, has had the least hesitancy on calling me for the shit I do that stems from that trauma. It's cost me jobs, and relationships.

But I own that shit; it's who I have been for so long that it's who I am. Maybe I should've talked to someone long ago about the Bad Stuff, to get a grip on it, some handle on it, that maybe would've let me lead a more healthy, normal life. Oh well; c'est la vie.

I see no reason why some rich, celebrity asshole should get a pass.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:43 PM
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Christmas Vacation is still a favorite, but I never had much use for him otherwise.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:54 PM
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Mmmmmm. I’ve enjoyed some of his performances over the years...SNL, Vacation...thought he was useless in Caddyshack.. Always thought he was pretty much of a dick. Now that he’s 74, can’t he just kick back and spend the rest of his life reading detective novels?
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:03 PM
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Point #1:
A LOT of public figures--artists, politicians, etc.--are rude, crude, downright mean, or otherwise unpleasant in their personal lives. You have to decide whether, in your own mind, you want to separate their personal lives from their professional lives.

Point #2:
Seriously, people? No love for Fletch or Three Amigos? Are you people nuts?

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089155/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092086/
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:08 PM
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I always liked the one he did with Goldie Hawn that was kind of like "Silverstreak" but not as good. (Oh, yeah "Foul Play".)
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:08 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is online now
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Excellent, interesting OP. I agree with everything, except this:
Thank you.

In dissent, I cite the following, all from Rodney:

"I figured as much. Hey Moose, Rocco - help the judge find his checkbook!"

"She musta really been something before electricity"

"Hey kid - park my car, take care of my clubs... and put on some weight"
(while tossing twenties at the caddy)

And the immortal line from the judge:

"The world needs ditch-diggers too."
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:23 PM
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I'm not sure how well-known it is, but a fun fact about CC is that he has a writer's credit on a one-off cartoon in MAD Magazine.
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:25 PM
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Point #1:
A LOT of public figures--artists, politicians, etc.--are rude, crude, downright mean, or otherwise unpleasant in their personal lives. You have to decide whether, in your own mind, you want to separate their personal lives from their professional lives.

Point #2:
Seriously, people? No love for Fletch or Three Amigos? Are you people nuts?

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089155/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092086/
Sorry but I never found him funny in the slightest and detest both of those films.
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:32 PM
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Sorry but I never found him funny in the slightest and detest both of those films.
I agree. Every Chevy Chase movie I’ve seen, I hated. It’s a mystery to me why he had any success at all post-SNL.

He had moments in Community, but other than that I’ve never found anything he did on screen to be funny.
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:37 PM
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I liked him enough for his SNL gig, but his work afterwards was uneven. The Three Amigos was his best film, though he was tolerable in the first Christmas Vacation. Community was a surprise, but he burned that bridge when he could have built on it.

I contrast him with someone else from the first year of SNL, Steve Martin, who I couldn't stand on the show, but who eventually developed into an excellent comic actor.
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:38 PM
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Sorry but I never found him funny in the slightest and detest both of those films.
Three Amigos is a guilty pleasure for me, I've always enjoyed watching it, despite Chevy Chase's presence. He sticks out like an unfunny sore thumb.
I thought he was hilarious in SNL's first season, but have yet to see a funny moment from him since then.
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:15 PM
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I like his work but he's a dick. The story moved me not at all. In the article he is still bashing people. He's not going to change. Take him as he is, or move on.

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Old 09-23-2018, 08:16 PM
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Spies Like Us, Fletch and The Three Amigos are comedy classics and the world is better for having Chevy in it. That being said I wouldn't want to work with him and after Community I don't blame anyone else from not hiring him. I can't see anything in the article that makes me change my mind and I'm ok if he never works again.
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:56 PM
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I see no reason why some rich, celebrity asshole should get a pass.
Chevy Chase is a wealthy, inexplicably once popular comedian with financial resources and access to the best private mental health services available to help him deal with his problems stemming from childhood trauma. That he has not done so, and consequently been incapable of maintaining relationships and get work on screen has long been his own responsibility and not worthy of great supympathy beyond that you would offer to the large number of people who have suffered the same or worse.

Also, he took the Gregory McDonald’s Fletch and used it to make idiotic Chevy Chase vehicles that had virtually nothing to do with the source material or the anti-hero journalist character thereby ruining any attempt to make a movie or television series based on the original novels, so fuck that guy with the the head of Alfredo Garcia.

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Old 09-23-2018, 10:23 PM
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Also, he took the Gregory McDonald’s Fletch and used it to make idiotic Chevy Chase vehicles that had virtually nothing to do with the source material or the anti-hero journalist character thereby ruining any attempt to make a movie or television series based on the original novels, so fuck that guy with the the head of Alfredo Garcia.
I always felt the guy they should have cast as Fletch was Tommy Lee Jones.
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Old 09-23-2018, 10:56 PM
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ISTM that the writers on Community purposely set out to make his character as unlikable as possible, especially in the episode where he bequeaths "gifts" to the other members of the group. Season 2, IIRC, was especially bad in this regard.
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Old 09-23-2018, 11:04 PM
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Halfway through I was wondering "why am I reading about this has-been asshole?"

A comment on Eddie Murphy:

Quote:
Stevie Wonder, he did well. It’s not that hard, for Christ’s sake. Your skin’s the same color. You just put on some sunglasses and do this.
I'll give him the benefit out the doubt that he's not a massive racist, and can't possibly believe that skin color is all it takes to do an impression - instead, we have someone whose comedic instincts are so poor as to think that a "meta" joke about such a thing coming from him in 2018 can possibly work.
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Old 09-23-2018, 11:24 PM
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I always felt the guy they should have cast as Fletch was Tommy Lee Jones.
Fletch looks like a beach bum, was a former Marine witha Silver Star he never accepted, and has a callous disregard of social convention. Back in the day it should have been someone like Andrew McCarthy or Timothy Hutton. Not only was Chase too old, he was just a complete clown. Jones would also have been too old and frankly too serious.

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Old 09-23-2018, 11:34 PM
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Comedy ain't easy

I thought he funny on SNL and am grateful for his writing and performing of Weekend Update. I believe he is one of the comedy greats who somehow lost his way, not being able to sustain his comic highs.

Maybe that's because he's an asshole: I just learned of reports of that this month. I don't follow celebrity news much.

At any rate, inventing Weekend Update deserves a nod. Quite a bit followed from Chase's initial contributions to SNL.


BTW, Chase married his third wife in 1982. They are still together, FWIW.
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:49 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Sorry but I never found him funny in the slightest and detest both of those films.
I never found him funny in the slightest, either ("inexplicably once popular" pretty much sums it up for me), but I thought those movies were OK--but despite Chevy's appearance.

I often think of him when I go to the bathroom in certain places. Cornelius Crane 'Chevy' Chase is descended from the the Crane family who founded Crane Plumbing
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Old 09-24-2018, 10:34 AM
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Also, he took the Gregory McDonald’s Fletch and used it to make idiotic Chevy Chase vehicles that had virtually nothing to do with the source material or the anti-hero journalist character thereby ruining any attempt to make a movie or television series based on the original novels, so fork that guy with the the head of Alfredo Garcia.

Stranger
Agree completely. The first novel was basically a film script and it could have been made into a great film. Chase in that role was just plain wrong.
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Old 09-24-2018, 10:52 AM
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Point #2:
Seriously, people? No love for Fletch or Three Amigos? Are you people nuts?
Liked him in both, liked him on SNL, liked him in Vacation/Christmas Vacation, Spies Like Us and Caddyshack (though I agree he wasn't near the best part of Caddyshack). Never got around to watching Community.

I don't really care if he's a dick in real life, nor do I feel any sympathy if being a dick in real life came back to bite him.
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Old 09-24-2018, 10:59 AM
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Seriously, people? No love for Fletch or Three Amigos? Are you people nuts?
¡Three Amigos! is your counterreference? Not only is it a painfully unfunny film, and Chevy Chase barely does anything in the film at all, but his two costars ended filming refusing to talk to Chase for years afterward because of what a monumental ass he was.

Fletch is awful for all the reasons stated above, plus having a plot adapted from the novel in an entirely nonsensical fashion; it holds up even more poorly than many other contemporary ‘Eighties films like Beverly Hills Cop or the original Ghostbusters. The sequel was an “original story”, such as it had any narrative at all, that was so exceedingly painful to endure that despite the current trend of remaking anything from the ‘Eighties in a desperate attempt at nostalgia, various Fletch projects have been in development hell for the last twenty years.

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Old 09-24-2018, 11:00 AM
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I thought he was the worst Weekend Update hose, and that's quite the feat.

Painfully unfunny even in SNL season 1. But then, it seemed you had to be stoned to enjoy it then, and I wasn't.

Jeopardy 1999: "Comedian who's career fizzled after leaving NBC's Sat-Night".

Who was Chevy Chase. Chevy Chase?
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Old 09-24-2018, 11:01 AM
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The only Chevy Chase movie I can ever remember seeing is "Fletch", which I thought was pretty entertaining.
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Old 09-24-2018, 11:39 AM
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The one thing I do give him props for is that he was in favor of keeping the Kingdom of Gorch skits on SNL.
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Old 09-24-2018, 11:59 AM
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The one thing I do give him props for is that he was in favor of keeping the Kingdom of Gorch skits on SNL.
Those were horrible, and they drug the show to a grinding halt.
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Old 09-24-2018, 12:26 PM
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I've never liked people whose whole shtick is, "I am so much cooler than you could ever even think of being." Chase is a prime example, as is David Letterman.
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:03 PM
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I've never liked people whose whole shtick is, "I am so much cooler than you could ever even think of being." Chase is a prime example, as is David Letterman.
Especially when they are not, such as Chase. Repeatedly telling everyone you are cool does not make it true.
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:06 PM
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But the article goes on to report that Chase had a painful childhood. His parents divorced when he was young, and he was raised by an abusive mother, the kind who controlled by tearing into a kid's self-esteem. The result of this is supposedly an insecurity that drives his snotty aloofness. It may also be why he can't distinguish between cutting-edge irreverance and cruelty (as with the Cary Grant comment).
Sounds like BoJack Horseman to be honest (and the 5th season of BoJack goes into why even though one has had all these challenges while growing up, they may not deserve our sympathy if they haven't really tried to move past it - which is kind of where I am with Chevy)
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:30 PM
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Those were horrible, and they drug the show to a grinding halt.
Three words: Hot Muppet sex.
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:45 PM
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Those were horrible, and they drug the show to a grinding halt.
I'm telling the Mighty Favog you said that!
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Old 09-24-2018, 03:59 PM
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Eh. I consume entertainment for the end product. Unless someone is raping or killing or something, I'm not really worried about anybody's behind-the-scenes behavior.

I enjoy Chase's body of work to varying degrees. He essentially played one character his entire career, and sometimes that character works better in a project than others. That said, Vacation and Christmas Vacation remain two of my all-time favorite film comedies.

Last edited by Wheelz; 09-24-2018 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 09-24-2018, 06:15 PM
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ISTM that the writers on Community purposely set out to make his character as unlikable as possible, especially in the episode where he bequeaths "gifts" to the other members of the group. Season 2, IIRC, was especially bad in this regard.
Of course they did. That was the character. Nobody thought that was Chevy Chase, he played it really well but a lot of other comic characters could do it too. They did ramp it up later on, Pierce was more likeable at first.

I believe he was involved for getting Dan Harmon fired at the end of Season 3, and he got bored and walked off the set a number of times (not sure if Season 3 or Season 4), then dismissed the show afterwards in a nasty way, which was a bit much given it was his career lifeline and got him back into the world...

His behaviour in Community is what gave him his recent reputation as being unemployable. That has little to do with the writers making him seem unlikeable.
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Old 09-24-2018, 07:44 PM
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Jones would also have been too old and frankly too serious.
Jones was only 28 when the book was written and 39 when the movie was made (he's two years younger than Chase). I feel that's a reasonable age range to play the character.

As for his seriousness, that's why I think he would have done well in the role. Jones can play comedy but he does it with a straight face (unlike Chase, who has a terrible habit of mugging for the camera).
  #43  
Old 09-24-2018, 08:55 PM
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Of course they did. That was the character. Nobody thought that was Chevy Chase, he played it really well but a lot of other comic characters could do it too. They did ramp it up later on, Pierce was more likeable at first.

I believe he was involved for getting Dan Harmon fired at the end of Season 3, and he got bored and walked off the set a number of times (not sure if Season 3 or Season 4), then dismissed the show afterwards in a nasty way, which was a bit much given it was his career lifeline and got him back into the world...

His behaviour in Community is what gave him his recent reputation as being unemployable. That has little to do with the writers making him seem unlikeable.
Sorry, I was unclear. My point was that in season two and beyond they made him so unlikable, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, that it appeared they were reacting to Chase, the actor. That episode where he tortured the other members of the group by giving them conditional heirlooms was as big a "fuck you" as I have ever seen writers give a character/actor. The writers and producers purposely sabotaged Pierce both to the group and to the audience by making him do things for which he really couldn't be forgiven.

In S1, he was just "unlikable" in the way TV characters are, but he still had some redeeming moments. On S2 and beyond? It went WAY beyond that.

Last edited by JohnT; 09-24-2018 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:35 PM
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Jones was only 28 when the book was written and 39 when the movie was made (he's two years younger than Chase). I feel that's a reasonable age range to play the character.
In the first novel, Irwin Maurice ‘Fletch’ Fletcher is in his late twenties or very early thirties, and often mistaken for looking younger. (No specific age or date is mentioned but he served in Viet Nam and hos boss mentions that he is too young to have two ex-wives.) Tommy Lee Jones was born looking like he was in his mid-thirties and has looked progressively older. In The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) he looks like he’s in his mid-forties even though he was actually 31 years old. He also plays the straight man in the rare comedic roles he takes (Men in Black, Man of the House, U.S. Marshalls). He is basically the antithethis of the literary character who doesn’t take much of anything with seriousness despite the consequences (murder, blackmail, embezzlement) which drive the plots of the novels in which he appears.

The arguement can be made that, as with Bond or Bourne (to name a few), that the literary and cinematic characters should be taken separately as suits their respective mediums, but the Fletch movies were strictly vehicles for Chevy Chase to do stereotypical Chevy Chase things, and therefore neither very interesting or unique. Chase was at his best as a hapless family man getting screwed on a car deal or portraying Gerold Ford for the executive sin of stumbling on a steep aircraft stairway, and never developed any potential beyond that schtick. That he is also an irredeemable asshole beyond his lack of talent makes him an unworthy recipient of sympathy. Fuck that guy.

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Old 09-24-2018, 10:06 PM
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"Doesn't take much of anything with seriousness despite the consequences" and "callous disregard for social convention" are excellent ways to put it - I always pictured the anti-hero Fletch as basically an asshole, so at least there is that connection. Too bad about the Chevy Chase movies.
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:21 AM
gaffa gaffa is online now
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My favorite Chevy Chase movie role was Memoirs Of An Invisible Man. He was quite good in that, but it's mostly forgotten movie.
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Old 09-25-2018, 03:38 AM
The_Peyote_Coyote The_Peyote_Coyote is offline
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I liked him on SNL. As for his films, the only ones I ever saw were the Vacation movies and Caddyshack. I don't like the Vacation movies much.
I agree with Ukulele Ike about his performance in Caddyshack. Any competent actor could have done as well as he. Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Rodney Dangerfield were the ones who made that movie great.
I'm also like Ex-Tank. I have emotional scars from my childhood, but I don't think that's an excuse for being an asshole.

Last edited by The_Peyote_Coyote; 09-25-2018 at 03:39 AM.
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Old 09-25-2018, 03:46 PM
dorvann dorvann is offline
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The funniest thing Chevy Chase was involved in was Stephen Colbert's performance at the 2002 New York Friars Club Roast of Chevy Chase. I can't currently find it on YouTube but if you can track it down it's definitely worth checking out.
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Old 09-25-2018, 05:03 PM
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silenus silenus is online now
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Meh. I find his movies to be lightweight but enjoyable fare, suitable for an afternoon's entertainment. That he personally is an asshole doesn't bother me much. The fact that this assholishness has shafted his career bothers me not at all.
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Old 09-26-2018, 02:35 PM
RickJay RickJay is online now
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I'll defend Chevy Chase on one point; he absolutely was talented and funny, as any comedian knows. He had comedy chops that went far, far beyond acting like he was cool. I mean, Clark Griswold is absolutely the opposite of cool, and Chevy Chase was wonderful in that role.

But why should anyone feel sorry for him? He had a fine career. He's 74. Most of the guys he's being compared to, like Steve Martin or David Letterman, are absolutely NOT in any sort of demand; the things they're doing are things they produce themselves.
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