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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey has his biggest role in quite some time with The Lincoln Lawyer, an adaptation of Michael Connelly’s suspense novel about a lawyer who deals with clients while in his Lincoln Towncar. The film also stars Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei, Academy Award nominee William H. Macy, Ryan Phillippe, Josh Lucas, and John Leguizamo.

The film hits theaters this Friday, and we at Player Affinity thought it’d be fun to look at McConaughey’s previous endeavors, examining the good, the bad, and the ugly of a career that oozes charisma, which has channeled itself into everything from action to comedy and romance.

The Good


Fairly early in his career, McConaughey tackled this courtroom drama alongside heavy hitters like Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins, a far cry from his later work which would mostly focus on big-budget action films and frothy romantic comedies.

The film received four Academy Award nominations, including one for Hopkins’s supporting performance.

Dazed and Confused

Taking its name from a classic Led Zeppelin tune, this dramedy has become a classic itself since its 1993 release. What’s more, this one features McConaughey’s most acclaimed performance to date. This coming-of-age film also features performances from Ben Affleck and Milla Jovovich.

Tropic Thunder

This seemed like nothing more than a typical R-rated comedy from the trailer, but this Ben Stiller film provides a brilliant satire of modern Hollywood. Tom Cruise and Robert Downey, Jr. both give the film’s best performances, but McConaughey’s work as agent for action star/wannabe-serious-actor Tugg Speedman shouldn’t be discredited.

It’s easily one of the better roles in his filmography. He conveys enough smarm to win us over with his egotistical character and proves that he’s got some excellent comedic timing.

The Bad

Failure to Launch

Forever doomed to syndication on TBS, this romantic comedy where McConaughey stars opposite Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker easily ranks as one of the actor’s lesser entries.

Though it boasts an impressive cast that includes Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel and Patton Oswalt, it brings with it an insipid plot: a woman (Parker) is hired to woo a man (McConaughey) so he’ll move out of his parents’ house. Yes, that’s the plot. No, I haven’t bothered with this one, but should I?

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Charles Dickens’ timeless tale A Christmas Carol has been retold time and time again. Every generation of moviegoers usually witnesses several adaptations of the literary classic. However, I’m sure that people never had one quite like this before.

That’s not necessarily a good thing. It doesn’t really lift its plot from A Christmas Carol. Rather, it employs the stereotypical “good guy at heart becomes a jerk but changes his ways upon rekindling the flame with a former lover” story and throws in random plot points from the Dickens tale.

That being said, McConaughey and love interest Jennifer Garner keep us slightly interested in the happenings here, but the only redeemable quality of this bomb is Emma Stone in a brief but hysterical role.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

McConaughey's charm and chemistry with his also likable co-star Kate Hudson wasn't enough to save this one from disaster. The plot focuses on two people: a man who bets that any woman can fall in love with him in ten days, and a woman who bets that in ten days she can woo a man and be unbearable enough for him to leave.

And wouldn't you know it? They test their respective theories out on each other! The film is predictable from the start, and the only real moment of fun comes in playing the card game bullshit.

The Ugly

Fool’s Gold

The actor’s second pairing with Kate Hudson looks to be his last so far, and it’s easy to see why. This odd combo of action and romantic comedy focused on former lovers who were forced into an adventure scenario.

The film not only failed to spark much interest from the general public, it also received a collective bashing from quite a few film critics.


This odd actioner proved to be fiscally successful, but it’s still one of the uglier films in McConaughey’s filmography as he leads this film to no true avail.

Every kind of action film cliché can be found here. The amazing Penelope Cruz later proved herself to be an exceptional performer in two Pedro Almodovar films and Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the latter of which earned her an Oscar, but Steve Zahn unfortunately has yet to redeem himself. Either way, it's McConaughey we're talking about here and he doesn't save it.

The Wedding Planner

We all know that actors will sign up for mindless blockbusters just to make bank in what’s often referred to as “paycheck roles.” However, it’s still a mystery to me why an established actor such as McConaughey would sign on for this one. Same goes for Jennifer Lopez, who plays the titular love interest here. This romantic comedy, like many previous ones from McConaughey provides its viewers with minimal laughs and horrendously forced romance.

Which list will The Lincoln Lawyer end up being on: the good, the bad, or the ugly? We’ll find out soon enough.


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