Jennifer Aniston is one of the producers of the Toronto-bound Cake, a somewhat dark-toned, lower-budgeted drama, shot last spring in Los Angeles, in which she, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington and Chris Messina costar. It has to do with tragedy, morose moods, a pain-support group, a sudden departure, a mildly unattractive mousey appearance for Aniston and (here’s hoping) acerbic dialogue. Aniston occasionally steps outside her comedic comfort zone to make films of this sort (Life of Crime, Friends With Money, etc.), the difference being that this time she helped with the financing. Please don’t get me wrong — I admire Aniston for trying to expand her repertoire, and I intend to give Cake a chance. As much as I’m able to, I mean.
The problem is that I have an Aniston blockage. I’d like to submit to the idea of Aniston playing a dumpy, brown-haired downhead, but I just can’t. And it’s not because she’s worth around $150 million or something in that vicinity. Nothing wrong with Aniston being loaded, but I can’t quite do that suspension-of-disbelief thing. Not with her super-toned bod and frosted blonde hair and her SmartWater and Aveeno endorsement deals, and her unrelenting presence in the supermarket tabloids for the last…what, 15 years? And always with the hot-bikini vacations on the Mexican coast.
In my mind Aniston is right next door to Blake Lively in the soul department. She’s a personality, a light comedienne, a world-famous metaphor for the 21st Century jilted woman, a marketing concept. And I just can’t see her as a mousey depressive dealing with pain and death and trips to Mexico. I’ll follow Amy Adams or Jessica Chastain or even Anne Hathaway into this realm, but Aniston presents an obstruction. Not that I wouldn’t like to. I just feel constrained.
The thing that tore it for me with Aniston was that Wanderlust boob-censorship story that popped two and a half years ago. Aniston reportedly persuaded director David Wain and/or producers Judd Apatow, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd “to digitally and editorially cover her naked breasts in a comedic topless scene, despite the precise point of the scene being that Aniston’s character bares her breasts in front of a local TV news crew,” I wrote on 2.17.12.
TheWrap‘s Tim Kenneally reported that Aniston “pleaded for an alternate version” due to her then-blossoming relationship” with Wanderlust costar Justin Theroux (The Leftovers), whom she met during filming and to whom she’s now engaged. Aniston reportedly “decided it just wouldn’t be right to share her naked breasts with anyone except her new beau,” Kenneally wrote.
“There’s nothing lamer than an actress saying she wants to water down a scene for a reason that has nothing to do with the integrity of the film,” I wrote. “If you change a scene you do it for one reason and one reason only — i.e., to make the scene better on its own terms, and to make sure that the scene more successfully serves the picture as a whole. Only lame-o’s, non-artists and others with pedestrian mentalities futz around with a scene for personal, non-artistic reasons. The conclusion, no offense, is that the shoe fits, and Aniston is wearing it.”
Aniston and costar Sam Worthington during filming of Cake.