Kevin Pollak's been great in great movies and great in bad movies; too bad he's been in more of the latter than the former. In fact, once you get past Avalon, The Usual Suspects, Casino, L.A. Story and--be nice, be nice--Grumpy Old Menand Miami Rhapsody, the guy's been in so many bad movies Showtime and The Movie Channel don't have enough free slots between them to air all of Pollak's missteps and money-grabs, though I'm sure 1999's The Sex Monsterwill wind up in a bidding war between the two alleged premium cable outlets. But don't hold Chameleonor Hoodsor House Arrestor The Whole Nine Yardsor 3000 Miles to Gracelandor The Wedding Planneror End of Days...well, don't hold a few other things against Pollak. Why? He knows better.
I've always thought that somewhere within Pollak resides a bona fide artist dying for the opportunity to do more than interpret Arnold Schwarzenegger from the original gibberish or play 15th fiddle to Eddie Murphy and talking animals. One need look no further than a would-have-been masterpiece Pollak created with Usual Suspectsscreenwriter Christopher McQuarrie. Titled Underworld, it was a complex, wrenching crime story told from the criminals' point of view. Pollak, his smirk bent slightly out of shape, played Charlie "The Brain" Dyer, a con who spent five years in "The Institute"; Charlie wanted only to go straight as a computer repairman, but his old gang, the Mob (headed by Chris Sarandon) and even the cops (Felicity Huffman, ex of Sports Night) wouldn't hear of it. Neither would ABC. The network that gave Geena Davis a steady paycheck for a season passed on the 90-minute pilot, and Underworldwound up 6 feet under. Just as well. Network TV didn't deserve it.
And so Pollak winds up making good money by holding his nose in mediocre movies. So what? He's having fun. He's even back on the road doing a stand-up act--the actor's version of returning to his roots. No doubt he'll do Shatner, Falk, the whole gang, the usual suspects--great, can't wait. But me, I'd pay to see him do 60 minutes of Charlie Dyer.