Total Recall: Bradley Cooper's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Hangover Part III star.
Before he was an Oscar-nominated star of The Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper was one of Hollywood's go-to guys for the sort of rakishly smarmy character that every truly great R-rated comedy really needs -- comedies like, say, The Hangover, which shifted Cooper's career into high gear in 2009. This week, as the Hangover trilogy prepares for its presumably Jeong-filled conclusion, we're taking a moment to look back at some of the critical highlights from his filmography -- and given that he only made his cinematic debut a little over 10 years ago, those highlights are more numerous (and more diverse) than you might think. It's time for Total Recall!
10. Yes Man
For a fairly good-sized portion of the aughts, it seemed like Jim Carrey had lost the will to be funny -- and while his newfound focus on sharpening his dramatic chops produced a number of fine films (including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), it was hard for fans to keep from wishing he'd just cut loose with a good old-fashioned laffer after awhile. Sadly, when Carrey returned to broad comedy with Yes Man in 2008, the critics seemed to wish he'd stayed away even longer -- although audiences clearly responded to the tale of a man who decides to turn his life around by saying "yes" to everything. Based on a memoir written by humorist Danny Wallace and featuring a supporting cast that included Cooper and Zooey Deschanel, it found favor with critics like Tim Evans of Sky Movies, who mused, "It's that rare thing - an example of Hollywood getting hold of a good idea, working on it... and not screwing it up."
9. The A-Team
The idea of a film adaptation of The A-Team kicked around Hollywood for years before finally grinding into gear, but all that extra time in development didn't end up producing the box office blockbuster 20th Century Fox was hoping for. Still, Joe Carnahan's cheerfully ludicrous big-screen take on the '80s TV hit about a crew of war vets-turned-heroes for hire (here played by Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, Quinton Jackson, and Cooper) resonated with a number of critics who showed up looking for an undemanding comedy/action thriller and came away satisfied -- including Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, who marveled, "It's trash so compacted it glows."
8. Hit and Run
While it wasn't a major critical or commercial success, 2012's Hit and Run is, at the very least, an inspiration for every actor who begins his film career with a bit role like "Guy vomiting at party" -- which is, not coincidentally, just what Dax Shepard did, a scant 14 years before making his screenwriting (and co-directing) debut with this low-budget comedy about a Witness Protection enrollee (Shepard) whose girlfriend (Kristen Bell) receives a job offer that puts him in danger of his shady past, which includes a trio of ticked-off former accomplices (including a rather hilariously bewigged Bradley Cooper). "Normally it'd be an insult to say the most interesting thing about a movie is one of the actor's do's," admitted Simon Miraudo of Quickflix, "but seriously, you've got to see this thing sitting on Cooper's head."
At first glance, My Little Eye's 65 percent might not seem like such a great accomplishment. But when you take into consideration the fact that it's an early-aughts horror movie about a group of people being killed for fun as part of a jury-rigged "reality show" for depraved weirdos, it's pretty impressive (consider, for example, the critical fates that befell the similarly themed Halloween Resurrection and the House on Haunted Hill remake). While it would be disingenuous to argue that this is anyone's idea of great cinema, if you're in the mood for a confidently nasty slasher with a handful of unexpected wrinkles (not to mention an early, effectively creepy appearance from Cooper), you could do worse than this. "It's a lot of style over very little substance," admitted Rich Cline of Shadows on the Wall. "But there are just enough twists in the tale to make it far more satisfying than almost any horror film in recent memory."
A sort of Flowers for Algernon with an action thriller's pace and zippier cinematography, Neil Burger's Limitless started from a timeless premise -- what if you could finally tap into your full potential, even if it came with a terrible price? -- and used it to add some extra dramatic heft to what might otherwise have been a fairly routine tale of gangland intrigue and corporate skullduggery. While a number of critics carped that Limitless seemed like the work of filmmakers who were operating at far less than 100 percent capacity, audiences turned out to the tune of a tidy $79 million gross -- and most scribes agreed with Christy Lemire of the Associated Press, who argued, "You could pick the script apart for impossibilities. But why bother? It's much more enjoyable to shut your brain off and have a good time."