In honor of the release of The Internship being the largest release upon the masses this weekend, we’ve got it in our heads that we should talk about the film’s biggest star, arguably Vince Vaughn, and try to settle the question of his best performance. Known mostly for more recent comedic work in things like Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers, Old School and the like, the Minneapolis, MN native has had a fairly long and interesting career. From his early work in television (he once had a guest roles on Doogie Howser, M.D. and 21 Jump Street) to his breakout performance in Swingers, he’s been around for a while and he’s done more than just speak jokes written by Adam McKay. With that in mind, we put the entirety of our career to our panel of writers, asking simply: what is Vince Vaughn’s best performance to date.
Their answers (and a place for your own) can be found below.
Nathan Adams: “Vince Vaughn was gifted with a cocky swagger and a silver tongue, but, given that he has such a strong personality and well-defined persona, he can sometimes use them as a crutch. The thinking seems to be that it doesn’t quite matter if the material isn’t up to snuff, just have Vaughn riff for a while and make cute faces and there will be something to use in post. This doesn’t always work (Couples Retreat, The Watch), and it’s the sort of thinking that breeds laziness. That’s why my favorite Vaughn performance came in Made, where he tweaked his usual schtick just enough that he was doing essentially the same motor-mouth routine, but the effect it had on you went from charm to irritation. Instead of wanting to high five him, you wanted to strangle him. Until he died (there’s some really strong cringe humor in that movie). Yet, at the same time, Vaughn was able to soften his character with just enough sadness and desperation that you kept rooting for him a little bit and you never stopped believing that his best friend (Jon Favreau) would bother putting up with him. It’s probably the most nuanced work he’s done.”
A Cool, Dry Place
Caitlin Hughes: “Over the years, Vince Vaughn has perfected his fast-talking, smart ass persona in most of his comedic roles – and even in lesser movies like The Watch, he is consistently a magnetic onscreen force. However, Vaughn is also able to elicit much more subtlety in quieter, dramatic roles like his in John N. Smith’s A Cool, Dry Place. In the film, he plays Russ, a single father of a young son who is just starting to move on with his life with Joey Lauren Adams’ comely vet tech, when his estranged wife (Monica Potter) suddenly resurfaces. It’s impossible for even the coldest of hearts not to melt as the 6’5″ Vaughn lovingly dotes on his little boy, but this performance hinges on so much more than a “cute factor.” As Russ, Vaughn runs the emotional gamut of lustful (he has an especially hot love scene with Adams), to scorned, to angry, to playful and beyond, and he is never not believable. His standout scene is when Russ is getting into the mood for an upcoming date – he dances like nobody’s watching to Dwight Yoakam’s “Claudette,” his hips, long legs, and arms akimbo. And then his son catches him in the act of dance and he is pretty embarrassed. Vaughn is so incredibly effective when he shows his vulnerable side, and this film makes you wish that he did more subdued roles more often. ”
Jack Giroux: “The Break-Up was a real surprise of a romantic comedy. Calling it a romantic comedy is almost misleading, because the 2006 Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn star vehicle was kind of an honest relationship movie that wasn’t afraid to be a bummer. Vince Vaughn’s work in that movie does feature his comedic tics and tricks we all know, but in a more natural and grounded way. Despite the Vaughny-ness of that performance, he shows a part of himself in that movie we hadn’t seen before. There was a genuine vulnerability that Vaughn doesn’t showoff often enough. It’s a performance that can be a little heartbreaking and, again, very much Vince Vaughn.”
Kevin Carr: “Let’s face it, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho is a colossal failure in almost every aspect. It’s unnecessary. It’s poorly directed. Much of the film is phoned in by its participants. In short, it has very little cinematic soul. However, it does offer one of the best performances you’ll ever see by Vince Vaughn. After all, what makes a great performance? Is it the same thing that an actor does very well, his go-to character? People certainly think so, heaping praise on Jack Nicholson for doling out role after role of his Jack character. So many fun films from Vaughn have him hitting it out of the park with his snarky, fast-talking style. However, for me, it’s the movie where he actually sets all of that aside and does something different that really catches my eye. He may be mired in a sea of mediocrity and uselessness in Psycho, but he gives one hell of a performance as the tortured, troubled yet still somewhat loveable Norman Bates.”
What would you say is Vince Vaughn’s best performance?