Updated: Aug 10, 2022
It's a strange thing, reversing an overall opinion of someone or something almost on a dime, but that's where I'm at with Ryan Reynolds.
Throughout the whole period he's been a big actor, I always kind of just thought of him as a better looking, better acting, genuinely funnier version of Dane Cook (the "Su Fi" comedian). I think it was because in that era where they were both around (2005-2006, when I was a senior in highschool) they came out with movies I get confused trying to differentiate to this day, "Waiting" with Reynolds and "Employee of the Month" with Cook. I couldn't have cared less about either of them, but buddies quoted both movies all the time in school and I could not STAND how hard it was to sit through Cook's stand up, so I kinda cast them both into the "not my taste" category of actors.
I never really cared about the movies he was in until I was bored enough to check out Deadpool as an in-flight movie option back in 2016. And the kind of neo-90's Sonic The Hedgehog 'attitude' he brought to that character, while in a few scenes was pretty eye-rollingly cringey, overall seemed to really fit that specific super hero extremely well. A larger than life, totally unrealistic, fun for the sake of fun story was perfect for the sarcastic, badass character he played.
But that got me to become a minor fan, to where I got a minor interest in later movies he would release too, and that's what's brought me to write this article. Emphasis on "minor" because I've only just started bothering to check out other Reynolds movies this past few months. So the first one was "Red Notice", again on an in-flight movie (usually that's the only place I go "gahhh, I'm bored enough to leave my preferred movie comfort zone when left with no other choice I guess"). I checked it out mostly because I think Dwayne Johnson's a stand up, amazing guy, and while I can't think of a single movie he's ever been in that I would put even in a top 30 movie list, I still think he's great at what he does.
But anyway, back to Reynolds. He was also a pretty big part of the movie, but I didn't realize he's pretty much type-cast as a character, because he essentially played Deadpool without the suit. And I subconsciously seem to pay a lot of attention to detail nowadays when it comes to 'boomer humor' where acting and actors from bygone eras can make you cringe so hard you almost want to stop watching until you rationalize "heh, it was the 90's" or "well, that actor was born in the 40's, it's fine". However, in 2022 I have never seen someone try to personify or harken back to those bygone eras as unironically as Reynolds does.
Red Notice was a watchable mindless movie and it did the same job that Transformers or The Avengers movies do. Cheesy PG-13 comedy and violence with no discernible plot or purpose but to entertain people. And that's totally cool.
But what caused me to write this article... is The Adam Project. This movie just released on Netflix, and I thought "let's give it a shot". Clearly, something sent me over the top with this title to where I was compelled to write something. And that is WHO Reynolds and his neo-90's attitude is directed at. Which is his younger self.
The movie is based around time travel and he, as an adult version of himself, has to travel back and meets his self as a kid, his dad who died 30+ years ago in the movie timeline, and many other extremely important figures (like his mom, his wife, etc) in any human's life. This is a concept I've thought about deeply over the years, as I lost my dad in 2008 and I've had a life long issue of "being my own worst enemy" when I've only recently learned that the best way to treat yourself is by having your own back, being your own friend, because at the end of the day, nothing is sacred- no one may be truly there for you at the end of the day, except yourself. So being there for yourself is the single best way to respect the life you were given.
And this movie spits in the face of all that. It's a standard Transformers type action comedy, but with this time travel concept, it just really comes off so unrealistic, obtuse, and straight up... negative. Just depressing really. Like the director had never thought about this concept at all or something. From scenes where Reynolds meets his childhood bullies with his kid self and TELLS his kid self to get into a fight he knows he'll lose, just to witness his kid self get beaten up... it's like those fathers who can't put themselves in their kids shoes and have no ability to empathize so they repeat cycles of negativity that THEY had to go through as kids (eg. their dad was mean to them? They're now mean to their kids, that kind of thing). Except, the key here, is Reynolds is LITERALLY in his own shoes.
^One of the seemingly infinite scenes where he berates his younger self for being a stupid, nerdy kid with a punchable face... simply for asking a pretty reasonable question about stuff like "do I kiss a girl in the future?".
Yet he's not there for his younger self. He seems to know/remember nothing about him, treats him like an annoying, clingy friend or something, has no sympathy, and is immediately annoyed at his 12yo self before the kid can even finish delivering lines scene to scene. The 'attitude' Reynolds has is cranked up to 11 in this movie.
The fact that the targets of the attitude are people like his younger self, and his own dad who he hadn't see for over 30 years, make it hard to watch. Their first scene together, Reynolds PUNCHES HIS DAD in the face, because he's annoyed at the dad being so shocked by seeing his time traveling kid. I mean holy hell). He doesn't even seem to be taken aback by seeing the dad he once knew alive again, it just boggles my mind (until I remember it's just a shallow action comedy).
When his attitude is steered at other adult male actors, that's tolerable, because those adults can walk away from him theoretically. But when he plays the exact same character and we're supposed to believe he's being snarky, uncaring and straight mean to his own self and his own family, it's a little bit too beyond the pale. Throughout the movie he literally bullies 12yo him scene by scene, and 12yo him is in the middle of a pretty tough life in the first place (which you would think he would know seeing as he... is himself).
It just comes off so unrealistic, so unnecessary to use a plot device like time travel with an actor like Reynolds who can't seem to turn off the non-stop sarcasm no matter what role he plays, that it goes past "ah this is annoying" to "this is actually insulting".
I should have other opinion pieces coming in the future that will explain more of why my belief that being there for yourself and enjoying every moment and experience you have with people you care about is a big deal, but even from that statement, I think as a reader you can see how obvious the importance of those factors are in life. But since this movie uses those deep and meaningful concepts as nothing but obtuse bases for joke setups, I cannot take it. And sadly, this movie is the single best example I can think of that shows why Reynolds is apparently an actor with one specific character type in his acting range, which is his own sarcastic self, nonstop, in every role.
I feel like The Adam Project is one of those movies that is going to forever taint my opinion about him in future roles, which is why this article uses the word 'insufferable' to describe him. But he is a pretty talented guy, so if he ever does happen to have to act in a role that's serious or emotionally aware & caring in some way, I'd be happy to check those out. Until then though, Ryan Reynolds IS insufferable. So here's to you (for now), buddy: