Fernby Films

Blog-A-Thon: Small Roles – Big Performances

Ruth over at Flixchatter has a new Blog-a-thon doing the rounds – Small Roles, Big Performances, designed to highlight terrific acting performances in relatively minor roles. Often, a great film comes from a secondary role, and today I thought I’d hilight one that comes almost immediately to mind.

 Here’s the brief from Ruth:

Shine a spotlight on the ‘unsung heroes’ if you will, the overlooked performers who add so much richness & entertainment value to the film no matter how brief their appearance is, but yet they don’t get the credit they so deserve.

Jack Black as Barry in High Fidelity

Jack Black’s name is now almost synonomous with modern Hollywood comedy, thanks largely to films such as School Of Rock, Tropic Thunder and Shallow Hal, while voice work in Kung Fu Panda, straight romantic interest in The Holiday, and leading man status in King Kong (2005) have all boosted his status as one of the genuine name-above-title draws in the industry.

However, his breakout role came in 2000’s High Fidelity, where he starred alongside John Cusack and Todd Luioso as record-store employees who constantly bickered about their favorite musical influences.

Jack Black (Left) with Todd Luioso, John Cusack and Lisa Bonnet in High Fidelity

It’s fair to say that while Cusack and romantic female lead Iben Hjejle had the lion’s share of the film, Black and Louiso’s verbal banter through which they disseminated opinion on everything from music to love advice is easily the key comedic arc in the film – Louiso’s character, Dick, is withdrawn and seemingly insecure, while Black’s character, Barry, is the polar opposite – brash, abrasive, rude and arrogant. Together, they form a duo of antagonism towards Cusacks Rob Gordon, which is both blisteringly funny and at times, heartfelt and lovely.

Okay, your top 5 songs for sitting on a desk gabbing about your top five songs! Go!

 The breakout performance in High Fidelity, though, is definitely Jack Black. His scattergun approach to the role, wild eyed and loud, is screamingly funny, with the perfect denomount for his character coming at the very end of the film, as Barry does something completely unexpected to both the viewer and his fellow characters.

If there’s a single secondary role in a film that I think stands the scrutiny of this Blog-a-thon, it’s Jack Black’s appearance and breakout performance in High Fidelity.


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  1. rtm October 3, 2012

    Hey Rodney, glad to see you taking part! I'm not too crazy about High Fidelity but Jack Black is definitely memorable in this one. Great pick, though he's actually pretty famous already 🙂
    My recent post Small Roles Big Performances: Don Cheadle in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

    • Rodney October 4, 2012

      You don't really like High Fidelity? I think you had better explain yourself my dear!! 😉

      I get what you say about Jack Black, but in my circle a lot of people have never seen High Fidelity – I even mention the inclusion of Jack Black, and normally get a quizzical raised eyebrow – and I'm hoping to rectify that!

  2. Custard October 3, 2012

    Nice choice Rodney… shame I now cannot stand JB at all… Apart from in BERNIE, he was brill in that
    My recent post FRC Feature – Grimmfest Preview

    • Rodney October 4, 2012

      He's one of those actors you either love or hate, although I think his grating style can wear thin at times. Given the right material, he has the potential to be pretty decent as an actor.

  3. laughingstars66 October 10, 2012

    Nice pick! High Fidelity was a fun movie, and while I'm not generally a fan of Jack Black, he made a good music loving sidekick. 🙂


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