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Note to Harrison Ford:
How's it going? I guess not so good since you've recently split from your wife. You're probably feeling blue (if you're not in bed with Lara Flynn Boyle as you read this) and you may not want to hear what I'm going to say. It's not easy for me to write, but I hope it will be freeing for you. I'm all about Tough Love.
If my name seems at all familiar to you, it's probably because I sent you a very heartfelt fan letter sometime around the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom era. I was about 11 or 12. You sent me an autographed photo of yourself, shirtless and smoldering. Thanks for that. I kept it in a frame throughout my teen years. You don't need to send me a photo this time. I would prefer you to respond by heeding my advice.
I'd like to give you my permission to stop making movies. You clearly seem to not be enjoying it anymore, so why not retire? You've got more money than you can count and you like to live simply anyway. Well, you do like to buy helicopters and airplanes, but you've already got a few. Now you can spend time flying them. You can rescue more damsels in distress off mountains, and you don't need to make sure the rescues coincide with the release of movies. I think you've got enough cash to cover college tuition for your kids with what you've already saved. You're pretty conservative, like your character Jack Ryan, so I bet you've invested well and have a diversified portfolio. Hell, you're doing a lot better than Mark Hamill, and there was a time when I had to defend my feelings for you to a legion of Luke lovers on the playground. Now Mark's doing dinner theater.
I'm asking you to stop because your three most recent movies have been painful to watch--and as the baseball metaphor goes, three strikes and you're out. I watched each of them a few weeks after they were released in nearly empty theaters that were populated by scattered groups of middle-aged housewives and old ladies. We were all there to see you with your shirt off. It felt sorta like going to a porn theater. These movies were so bad, they only had beefcake going for them. Now, your beefcake goes a long way..but there are limits.
The first offense was Six Days, Seven Nights. You're okay at comedy--Working Girl and American Graffiti attest to that fact. But this movie was really, really bad. You managed to generate a little chemistry with Anne Heche, who was gay at the time, and I have to commend you for that. But the script was painful. I know you like to mix it up and were looking to do something light after being heroic, patriotic, and self-righteous in Air Force One, but this movie was lighter than Calista Flockhart. The only thing I liked about this one was that you had your shirt off for 80% of the movie. You still look really good with your shirt off. Does building furniture keep you in shape? Maybe you should do more of that.
Strike Two was Random Hearts. What a snoozer. This one had a far-fetched plot that was more worthy of a Meredith Baxter-Birney movie-of-the-week than a feature film. The surviving cuckolded partners of a cheating couple who die in a plane crash fall in love. Ack. You looked good in flannel shirts, but you had zero chemistry with arctic Kristin Scott-Thomas. It's not your fault. I mean, Robert Redford failed to light Kristin's fire in The Horse Whisperer and he's known for that kind of thing. But you walked through this movie like a zombie. I was disturbed but brushed it off at the time, thinking the script had put you to sleep too. I guess I was in denial.
Then I recently saw you sleepwalk through What Lies Beneath and decided that I could keep my mouth shut no longer. This movie was okay. In fact, it was damn suspenseful and I really got into it. Although you scored some points for having your shirt off in 20% of the movie, the movie owes its success to Michelle Pfieffer, not to you. You know, let's be honest, Harrison, you've never been good at being a bad guy-I didn't buy you as the evil lawyer in the pre-"noble fool"-transformation scenes of Regarding Henry and that's the only other time you've played a villain. I'm sorry, but you made me laugh when you turned out to be the bad guy in this one. You were really hamming it up in the ludicrous finale. I think you seemed to be overacting so badly because you were catatonic throughout the rest of the movie. You coasted through it with that pissed-off-yet-bored expression on your face. I'm getting sick of that pissed-off-yet-bored expression...you used it a lot in The Devil's Own and Clear and Present Danger too.
Harrison, you're the biggest box office star of all time. You kick ass. You've got nothing more to prove. If you don't want to be in these shitty movies--and knowing you as I do, I can't imagine they excite you--then stop. Just retire. Go back to making bookshelves. Establish the Indiana Jones Foundation. Spend time with your kids. Explore the gazillion acres of your Wyoming ranch. Instead of making that K19 movie about the submarine, try building a ship in a bottle. See, there are plenty of ways for you to spend your time. I have tried to be supportive, but I'm getting tired of wasting my time watching these movies--I mean, What Lies Beneath was 2 ½ hours long! I've decided that the next time one of your movies comes out, I'm just going to abstain from it and watch Witness or The Fugitive and remember your glory days.
You used to take some chances with movies like Blade Runner, Frantic, and The Mosquito Coast. I loved those movies. You had your shirt off in all three but you were acting too. In fact, you were nearly naked in Frantic. Remember that one scene where you covered your manhood with a teddy bear--a big teddy bear, of course. Anyway, I digress. You're a damn good actor, a recipient of the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. But you sure haven't proved you can act recently. I think the last real acting you did was in Presumed Innocent. That was 1990. We're talking 10 years ago. In the past decade you've made the aforementioned crappy triad which earned moderate-to-good box office and a host of action blockbusters in which you coasted, playing The Hero, displaying your constipated-yet-angry face and your pissed-off-yet-bored face.
I fell for you as The Hero/Scoundrel--Han Solo, Indiana Jones. I think your hero persona took a white bread turn when you started making the Jack Ryan movies. They were so Reagan/Bush. You were no longer the scoundrel. You became self-righteous, too noble, too indignant, grimacing and uttering catch phrases like "Get off my plane!" You yell a lot these days, usually at terrorists. "I didn't kill my wife!" you yelled in The Fugitive. Of course you didn't. You're Harrison Ford--our most perfect hero since Superman. But Superman had a great fall and you've done suspect things like getting your ear pierced, generating tabloid stories about being drunk and rolling around on the dance floor of Hogs and Heifers with an unknown blonde, and splitting from your wife of 17 years, the plain but talented Melissa Mathison.
About the break-up: if you are going to ignore my advice and keep making movies, I suggest you get back together with Melissa. Your core audience of housewives likes the fact that you're married to a girl next door type, not a goddess. It makes you accessible--they fantasize that if you weren't with her, you would marry one of them. They don't want to see you cavorting in bars, sitting dangerously close to Lara Flynn Boyle. You're not a Jack Nicholson kind of guy. Jack couldn't be Indiana Jones anymore than you could be Daryl Van Horne. Is this some sort of mid-life crisis? If you ever want to talk or need a shoulder to cry on, I'm here for you.
I've always been here for you, Harrison. I've seen you being wooden before in your Star Wars-era films where you were given your first leading roles. I'm sure you and I are the only people who remember Force Ten from Navarone and Hanover Street. You really sucked in those movies. You're sucking just as bad in your recent efforts. Back then, I attributed your bad acting to you being a novice. Now I attribute it to coasting and stagnating, to showing up just to collect the fat paycheck. Harrison, greed isn't good. You once said you were happy working as a carpenter. You were good at it. You made a recording studio for Sergio Mendes. Why not pick up your awl again and put down your hammer of justice?
In closing, I just want to thank you for the great movies you've made in the past. They will live on in my video collection, and I will be watching them when your new movies come out (unless you reach deep inside and make another Witness or Presumed Innocent, in which case I'll be there with bells on). Should you continue along your current trajectory, I regret that I will be unable to support you and continue looking at you shirtless. It's become too painful. Every time I go to one of your new movies, full of hope, I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest by a high priest of Kali. Sorry to end this letter with a PG-13 image, but I have to impress upon you just how disturbed I am.
For a kinder take on Harrison Ford,
Visit the Ford Finger Gallery, proving just how repetitive Harrison's performances can be.
Beg to differ? Defend Harrison Ford here.
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