The Overlooked Hotel is beginning to fill up nicely, with a plethora of deserving guests.

Our first guest was master storyteller Stephen Tobolowsky, he was followed by Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan, the late lamented J. T. Walsh and then the film Thirteen Days, Grosse Pointe Blank and even some of Woody Allen’s unfairly dismissed movies entered.

We can argue the toss over the deservedness of each admitted guest and this suggestion may well court a little controversy, but ladies and gentlemen, I offer forth Jason Bateman for your consideration.

Bateman undoubtedly has some quality control issues to contend with. The Horrible Bosses “franchise” is not great, nor are recent efforts like The Change Up, Identity Thief and Couples Retreat. Lest we forget, Bateman’s feature film CV begins with no less ignominious an entry than Teen Wolf Too, but as the noughties wore on and Bateman shifted emphasis from TV to cinema, quality work began to emerge and more specifically that work often began to stand in increasingly stark contrast to the lesser overall quality of the films in which he appeared.

Jason Bateman Teen Wolf Too

Bateman was a perfect complement to films like Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Juno, Starsky & Hutch and Dodgeball, but more markedly he was the best thing about less accomplished films like Hancock, Paul, Smokin’ Aces and The Kingdom. Despite very much inhabiting a light comic role in Dodgeball, (filling the now de rigueur “comedy commentator” role first essayed in Best in Show and since replicated in Mean Machine, Pitch Perfect et al) he has shown himself effortlessly accomplished in wholly serious work in Up In The Air (still the best thing in which any of its cast has appeared), Juno and The (aforementioned) Kingdom.

Director Peter Berg, who previously directed "The Kingdom" and "Friday Night Lights," takes the helm of Columbia Pictures' "Hancock," which is set for release on July 2, 2008. (Columbia Pictures/MCT)Bateman is of course greatly assisted by the relationships he has formed with directors Peter Berg (2 collaborations) and Jason Reitman (another 2 collaborations), who have leaned on his versatility, his personableness and his grounded performances. Even as”Lorenzo Zoil” (great gag) in Paul, Bateman convinces and reassures, his presence subtlyLABOR DAY persuading us that it is all going to be okay. Even in his more serious roles, Bateman makes a terrific impact, but he tends towards the periphery and perhaps this explains the lack of major awards attention for his theatrical work.

Arrested Development warrants a mention here, even with our focus being on Bateman’s cinematic output. AD is one of the finest TV shows of the past decade and Bateman richly deserves his nominations and awards (Golden Globes and Emmys). On the technicality of this being his TV work that is rewarded, he manages not to jeopardise his eligibility for The Overlooked Hotel and instead AD can serve as a further reminder of Bateman’s talent, comic timing, likeability and (as with Hancock and Mr Magorium) his ability to provide a calm centre around which mania and more overblown performances can revolve.

Jason-Bateman-Arrested-Development

We could sing Arrested Development’s praises endlessly (and probably should) and its strength of cast, script, ideas and tone all get the thumbs up, but Bateman is the anchor, even if the mock-doc approach (Modern Family, The Office, Parks & Recreation, The Muppets) has probably now had its day.

I claim no monopoly on deciding on a candidate’s admission to the Overlooked Hotel, only a willingness to put people forward for consideration. In relation to Bateman, it is also worth mentioning as a final thought that despite his generally hugely likeable on-screen persona, he has shown himself willing to sacrifice that for the sake of character and story integrity.

Many established stars seem unwilling to trade in their established on screen persona, but in Juno (for example), Bateman successfully and to great effect played a real jerk, a man who seemed to be trustworthy and dependable but turned out to be flaky, selfish and unreliable. It was the surprise of this character development, based on what we tend to expect from Bateman, that contributed to the overall impact of Juno and kudos to Bateman for portraying the transition of his character so believably.

What’s the decision? Is he in or is he out?

Previous articleExclusive: Hiromasa Yonebayashi & Yoshiaki Nishimura on When Marnie Was There & the future of Ghibli
Next articlePreacher, Episode 2: See – Review
Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.