Total Recall: Jennifer Aniston's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Bounty Hunter star.
Making the jump from sitcom lead to film star is tricky -- just ask former Friends stars David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, and Matthew Perry, all of whom have found that the big screen can be a rather inhospitable place. But there's an exception for every rule, and although her filmography is not without its share of failures (Love Happens, anyone?), Jennifer Aniston has shown an impressive ability to balance commercial hits (The Break-Up) with critical winners (The Good Girl). With her latest effort, the action comedy The Bounty Hunter, hitting theaters this weekend, we took the opportunity to look back at the ten best-reviewed films from Hollywood's favorite Friend. It's Total Recall time!
10. Bruce Almighty
Cool, high-concept idea aside, Bruce Almighty isn't a movie that tries to do anything out of the ordinary -- it represented a return to safely top-grossing comedic form for Jim Carrey, who reunited with his Ace Ventura director Tom Shadyac, and both Morgan Freeman (who played God) and Jennifer Aniston (who played Bruce's cutely exasperated girlfriend, Grace) played strongly to type in their supporting roles. Still, what works often works for a reason, and Bruce Almighty's outlandish $484 million gross demonstrated that sometimes, people just want to see their favorite stars do the stuff they've done well before. Most critics found Almighty less than heavenly, but that's often been true of Carrey's comedies -- and some scribes found the humor in this tale of an ordinary guy who gets to run the universe while God's on vacation, including Bill Clark of From the Balcony, who wrote, "Bruce Almighty is the kind of movie that Jim Carrey should stick to."
Several months before Will & Grace kicked off its lengthy run, Aniston co-starred in the somewhat similarly themed The Object of My Affection, about a social worker who impulsively offers to rent a room to a new acquaintance (Paul Rudd) -- and then proceeds to fall in love with him despite knowing he's gay. It might sound like fairly standard rom-com stuff, with a potentially offensive twist -- or it might just remind you of plot strands from My Best Friend's Wedding and The Next Best Thing -- and a number of critics did indeed dismiss Affection as, to quote Boxoffice Magazine's Kristan Ginther, "forgettable." For a surprising number of other writers, though, The Object of My Affection was simply too charming to resist. As the Boston Phoenix's Peter Keough begrudgingly wrote, "When confronted with a film as relentlessly PC and romantically feel-good as The Object of My Affection, you eventually have to succumb."
One of Aniston's earliest screen roles came courtesy of this small production, written and directed by Tiffanie DeBartolo. DeBartolo's father was once an owner of the San Francisco 49ers, so it's probably unsurprising that Dream for an Insomniac takes place in the City by the Bay -- and given that this was the heyday of the chatty indie flick featuring quirky, gorgeous twentysomethings, it also shouldn't surprise you that, in the derisive estimation of New York Times critic Stephen Holden, Dream "suggests a pale shadow of Armistead Maupin's Tales From the City." It never saw wide release, and never really developed much of an audience on DVD, but for critics like TV Guide's Maitland McDonagh, it represented "A slight, sleekly polished debut feature propelled by a kinder, gentler Swingers vibe" -- and besides, it offers film fans a glimpse of Ione Skye and Mackenzie Astin moving into Parker Posey and Craig Sheffer territory.
7. Rock Star
To her credit, Aniston has played few of the ever-plentiful "supportive girlfriend" roles over the course of her career -- but when you're faced with the opportunity to grab second billing in a movie where Mark Wahlberg plays a working-class stiff who hits the big time, it's hard to say no. Regrettably, 2001's Rock Star wasn't a Boogie Nights-sized hit, either with critics or the aging heshers who might have appreciated the way its storyline mirrors Judas Priest's trendsetting decision to pluck its new lead singer from the ranks of a tribute band; still, plenty of writers raised their lighters to this inspirational drama, which returned Wahlberg to the arenas he hadn't occupied since his days fronting the Funky Bunch -- and gave formerly chart-topping hair metallurgists like Jason Bonham and Steelheart's Miljenko Matijevic something to do in the bargain. Zertinet's Steve Snyder was one of Rock Star's most ardent supporters, writing, "Just as it should be falling apart, its melodrama becomes more touching than ever, ultimately shaping a film about much more than any band and more poetic than any song on the radio."
6. Marley & Me
Cute dogs and small children in the cast tend to be pretty solid indicators of a movie's willingness to pander, and 2008's Marley & Me has both -- right down to a cuddly, bow-wearing puppy on the poster. But instead of ladling cheap sentiment on audiences, this adaptation of John Grogan's memoir showed a surprising level of restraint and sensitivity, winning praise from critics and tugging filmgoers' heartstrings all the way to a nearly $250 million gross (and a Teen Choice Award for Bromantic Comedy!). Though they were regularly upstaged by the titular yellow lab, Aniston and co-star Owen Wilson held their own, thanks to a script that allowed them to show a married couple growing together and making important transitions over time. As William Goss of Cinematical put it, "I'm fairly sure that the book and the film shared a common goal -- to make its audience sit, stay, laugh, cry, then move on -- and at those modest aspirations, the movie succeeds."