Commentary | Why Ryan Reynolds doesn’t have to change

If Hollywood has taught us that comedy is harder than drama, then let the “Deadpool” star continue to make us laugh.

ST. LOUIS — Why do all actors have to be every kind of screen persona that the audience desires? It’s a short-term, long-term fail for most performers. Believe it or not, when asked honestly, I bet a fair majority of actors would just be happy to nail one screen persona.

Case in point: Ryan Reynolds. 

Some have argued that he plays the same character in each of his movies. At this point, I would ask how one compares a Wade Wilson-type to his character in “Free Guy,” but no one cares.

The truth is Reynolds is capable of a dramatic, non-action/comedy role. Just give “Buried” a watch. He spends most of the film trapped in a coffin, regretting every previous bad decision in his life. It’s a great performance and proof that the 45-year-old can go there.

But there’s nothing wrong with stretching the “Merc with a Mouth” persona for a good while. Why not? He’s very good at it. The same way Jason Statham is good at action and comedy. It’s their world and we get to live in it, two hours at a time. Don’t take the skill for granted. Being an action star is all about charisma and screen presence, and little on prosthetics and accents. Throw comedy into that mix, and it’s a harder juggling act. Being funny is known to be harder than working out a few tears in front of the camera.

Due to his rapid-fire delivery and ability to make just about any sentence or grouping of words a fitting punchline, Reynolds can make comedy look easy. He’s got movie star looks, stays in action hero shape, and can bring levity to an otherwise obscene cinematic experience. (“Deadpool 2” and “Red Notice” for recent examples.)

It’s not as if he just brewed up the Wade Wilson type during the past six years. This happened in 2005 with the one-two punch, “Waiting” and “Just Friends.” It continued on with 2011’s underrated “The Changeup.” where Reynolds developed real comedic chemistry with everyman, Jason Bateman. This is due to the actor’s lifelong obsession with Wade and making a story that does him justice. So, while all those studios said no over the years, he brought him to the big screen in other entities. A sly way to reel in a studio like 20th Century Studios, who distributed both “Deadpool” movies.

Netflix’s “Red Notice” broke streaming records, and Reynolds’ involvement is a big reason for that success. Along with allowing Gal Gadot to play something different, it gave audiences more time with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Reynolds, who were hilarious during their short amount of time on screen together in “Hobbs and Shaw.” That didn’t include the Canadian actor trying to redress the bread and butter wise-cracking persona he’s cooked to perfection by now; the action adventure needed that levity in order to be enjoyable.

So, it’s no surprise Netflix tapped Reynolds to star in this weekend’s “The Adam Project,” a science fiction riff about a time-traveling pilot from 2050 named Adam (Reynolds) who travels back in time to team up with his father (Mark Ruffalo) and younger self (Walter Scobell) in order to save the future. Right off the bat, that sounds ludicrous. However, this clip tells me otherwise. It puts all of the lead actor’s skills to good use:

The script has four sets of hands attached (including talented “Banshee” creator, Jonathan Tropper), but director Shawn Levy just created magic with Reynolds in last year’s “Free Guy,” which was nominated for Best Comedy by the St. Louis Film Critics Association. Levy utilized Reynolds’ skills perfectly, turning him loose in a slightly different role.

“The Adam Project” finds Reynolds back in action hero/wise-cracking humor mode, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t say every actor or actress must get an invite via nomination to an awards show to feel validated. That’s something Johnson has made popular. Make the audience happy, helping us turn our brains off for a couple hours after a long day or week. That’s all his new movie needs to do. Jennifer Garner co-stars, and that never hurts.

Being a goofball isn’t the easiest act to pull off in Hollywood. Reynolds has patented it. ‘Deadpool 3″ is on the way, and you bet he’ll mix the occasional drama role to keep us honest.

Just keep making us laugh.

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Commentary | Why Ryan Reynolds doesn’t have to change

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