Why ‘True Detective’ Might Not Reinvent Vince Vaughn’s Career The Way He Hopes

Entertainment Features
06.19.15 48 Comments

Let me just preface this by saying that I’m inexplicably fond of Vince Vaughn, the actor. Though I have issues with his politics, and I think that his choice of movies roles as been absolutely abysmal in the decade since Wedding Crashers, I cannot help but to root for him. There’s something about his patter — and the rhythm of it — that I find completely intoxicating. He’s like a sleazy, fast-talking and incredibly charming used-car salesman, and he could probably sell me the wax-sealant upgrade on a 1970 Gremlin. In fact, he did the equivalent of that by briefly convincing me that I liked The Internship.

When it comes to fast-talking rat-ta-tat-tat Vince Vaughn, I am hopelessly in the bag.

But here’s the other reality about Vince Vaughn, and I say this as someone who has seen every single movie he’s ever made (even Delivery Man and Couples Retreat): When he’s not smarming with a string of consonants delivered at machine-gun speed, Vaughn isn’t a particularly gifted dramatic actor. I mean, he can pull off a dramatic role in a movie like Clay Pigeons where he was still being asked to play a smooth-talking cocksure asshole, but as a straight dramatic actor, he’s not good. All the evidence you really need is his performance in the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, where — even with a talented director like Gus Van Sant — Vaughn was bad. So very bad.

All of which is why I don’t believe that Season 2 of True Detective will be a reinvention of Vince Vaughn — as Vaughn is probably wishing — but possibly a ruination. Look: The guy hasn’t had a box office hit since Four Christmases in 2008, hasn’t made a decent movie since The Break-Up in 2006, and hasn’t had a smash hit in the decade since Wedding Crashers. His last five studio films — The Dilemma, The Watch, The Internship, Delivery Man, and Unfinished Business — have all bombed. Unfinished Business was an unqualified flop: The $35 million film made only $10 million at the American box office and — despite several European locales — mustered only another $3 million internationally.

All of which put Vaughn in a similar position that Matthew McConaughey was in before True Detective. Granted, McConaughey had already begun to display his dramatic abilities in films like Killer Joe, Mud and Dallas Buyer’s Club before TD came along, and McConaughey is a more likable actor in Hollywood, someone who almost everyone wanted to succeed. Vaughn, on the other hand, doesn’t have the nearly the good will that McConaughey had, though he is fondly remembered for movies like Old School, Wedding Crashers and Swingers.

In either respect, Vaughn — having been cast as career criminal Frank Semyon in Season 2 of True Detective — seemed poised to potentially repeat the reinvention and comeback that McConaughey pulled off last year. In fact, Vaughn’s casting was the thing I was most excited about in Season 2 of TD.

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