There are many injustices in Hollywood today: inequality of pay, the resurrection and desecration of classic 80′s movies and Nicole Kidman continuing to get the big bucks though her face has been expressionless since 2003. The biggest of all still remains why, oh why, no one will cast Janeane Garofalo in anything decent. She co-starred for five years in one of the defining sitcoms of the 90′s, The Larry Sanders Show, is a popular stand-up on the New York circuit, has had supporting roles in dozens of moderately successful movies and a recurring role on 24. She just never quite broke through. The closest she came was a crash diet in preparation for a promised role in Jerry Maguire, only to see replacement Renee Zellweger rise to stardom and acclaim in her place.
This then is my cry out to the Universe on her behalf. As evidence of her considerable talent, I offer my Top 5 Janeane Garofalo performances:
5. Reality Bites: It pains me to include Reality Bites in my list but I am going to bite my (virtual) tongue and put Janeane first. As sexually prolific Gap worker and Generation X-er Vickie, she managed to bring artlessness and truth to a self-conscious and borderline ‘message’ role. Although the conceit of her wait for HIV test results may seem a little contrived today, Janeane’s performance still gives it resonance. The film is certainly worth watching for lesser-stars Steve Zane and Garofalo but is primarily a vehicle for ‘hot young things’ Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke. In my opinion the crossed stream consequences of their combined smugness detract a little from its charm but it remains a slacker classic.
4. Mystery Men: What’s not to love? Ridiculous, juvenile AND William H Macy, it ticks all the boxes. Janeane plays ‘The Bowler’ a reluctant member of a team of Superheroes who all bear the proud distinction of not being very super at all. They band together to defeat the inevitable supervillain against some appalling sets with some of the funniest dialogue ever to pass a pair of superlips. Much of the comedy lies in the awesome might of their ’powers’ so I will not divulge too much here. Suffice it to say cutlery features prominently and Janeane’s bowling ball contains the skull of her dead Father. Watchmen this is not.
3. Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion: Well suited to her flair for snark, Janeane’s sub-plot romance with the cowboy hatted smoker is one of the sweetest notes in a very clever film that has far more soul than first impressions suggest. Not to mention an interpretive dance to Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time that will rock your world! A celebration of friendship, nostalgia and man-made fibres, the candy-sweet story gets a nicotine kick from Janeane. It also reinforces my enduring belief that smoking is cool (though neither big nor clever). This is my fourth year living apart from my Marlboro - Flashdance, Now Voyager and Ms Garofalo are three reasons I will never quite forget them.
2. The Truth About Cats & Dogs: Since the films release in 1996 Janeane has gone on the record to say she regrets her involvement believing it is not in keeping with her feminist values. I’m sure I’ll be sacked from being a girl for saying so but…sod feminism - it’s a jolly good film. A classic chick flick and reimagining of Cyrano de Bergerac where short and brunette is the new ugly-with-big-nose (that does sound quite bad actually but fiddle-de-dee). The Truth About Cats & Dogs unites photographer Ben Chaplin (Game On) with self-deprecating radio host Janeane in a sunny world where all that truly matters is what you have on the inside. A world in which Uma Thurman’s distracting beauty is no match for fate when two people are meant to be together. Yes I know it’s very silly, go with it it’s nice. We all need a little undiluted nice once in a while.
Sweethearts And when you’ve had enough of nice, there’s Sweethearts! Unlucky in love Arliss places a personal ad and by way of reply spends an evening in a coffee shop with manic depressive, accident-waiting-to-happen Jasmine. This is her greatest performance and offers, in places, an insight into the world according to Janeane Garofalo. Producing as well as starring in this memorable movie, Sweethearts is the perfect illustration of my premise – this woman should be working more!