On the Fresh Prince of Bel-air's Anniversary, Proof That Will Smith Elevates Even the Lamest Script
With The Fresh Prince celebrating its 25th anniversary today, we figured there was no better time to look back at all of the instances when Will Smith elevated weak material via his sheer force of personality. To see that patented "Big Willie Style" charm for yourself, head to http://avc.lu/1Kb42t9 to watch the clips.
- •"I, Clownius," The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (season six, episode 13)By the time of its final season, The Fresh Prince often seemed to be ambling toward the finish line, its now-internationally-famous movie star eager to graduate from his sitcom and continue the leading-man career. "I, Clownius” was a particularly lackluster effort, finding Uncle Phil, Will, and Carlton held hostage by a man in a clown suit. The laugh lines are by-the-numbers at best, but even at the late hour, Smith’s versatile ability to transform hacky jokes into genuine laughs shine through.
- •Alien greeting scene, Independence DayRoland Emmerich’s 1996 alien-invasion film is essentially one long monument to over-the-top-ness, but Smith’s performance anchors it with an easy relatIability and matter-of-fact energy that sells even a line as notoriously ridiculous as this one.
- •Train fighting sequence, Wild Wild WestOne of the most direly unpleasant blockbuster films of the modern era, Wild Wild West features a nigh-incoherent story, creepy racist humor, and gay panic jokes that make Boat Trip look subtle. Yet Will Smith’s star power emerged undimmed. The reason is on display in the scene below, where he manages to make even this laborious slog of an action scene tolerable thanks to his charm.
- •Aliens work in the post office, Men In Black 2Men In Black 2, which might be the most forgettable film Smith has made (something about alien Lara Flynn Boyle and Rosario Dawson being the princess of the galaxy, maybe?), nevertheless coasts by on the easy charm of Smith’s Agent J. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt when Tommy Lee Jones is your brusque straight man.
- •"I can do this all day," HancockIn a movie that weirdly decided to dedicate itself to keeping Smith’s natural charisma tucked far out of sight, the actor’s innate likability nevertheless manages to shine through in a few scenes. Here, a brief comic interlude with Charlize Theron lets his disheveled superhero actually have a smidgen of personality.
- •Dealing with the devil scene, Winter's TaleRarely has Smith been miscast as bizarrely as he is in Winter’s Tale, Akiva Goldsman’s oddball directorial debut about a reincarnated thief trying to save the woman he loves from the clutches of a demon. Yet his uncredited cameo is one of the film’s most intriguing, if only to watch Lucifer tackled by the man who once released an album called Big Willie Style.