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If You Want an Oscar Play a Developmentally Disabled Person

By: Bobby Finstock on 01/31/07 @ 5:49 am

For years the common wisdom in Hollywood was that if you want to earn an Oscar nod that all you had to do was play someone with a mental disability. To me that idea really bugged me on multiple levels:

1) How hard is it to play someone with the IQ of a squeezable ketchup bottle? – If the person you are playing has the mental ability of a four year old is it really that hard to play that role? Please, I can run around screaming and beating my head if the toaster burns my waffles, it isn’t that hard.

2) No reviewer has the balls to say something negative about you playing someone with a mental disability- Leonard Maltin will not criticize you playing someone with Downs like he would someone that is giving a shitty British accent. It’s like actors get a free pass even though there have been some pretty piss poor performances, did anyone see “Riding the Bus with My Sister”?

riding the bus

Playing someone that is developmentally disabled isn’t an acting challenge or a brave turn, it is taking the safe route. You pull on some heart strings and get to put in a half-assed performance, what isn’t to love about that role? However the free pass ends here, as I rate three different performances of actors playing developmentally disabled people.


Leonardo DiCaprio in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”

whats eating gilbert grape

DiCaprio gives a performance that when you watch it again makes up for the fact that he made “The Beach”. If you haven’t seen this movie you really should take the time out to view it because DiCaprio gives such a nuanced performance, it’s nice to be reminded once and awhile that some people have talent in Hollywood.

Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Boat Trip”

boat trip

Just a horrible performance, in fact I couldn’t figure out who was more retarded him or Horatio Sanz… wait he wasn’t developmentally disabled in this? It was “Radio”? Well that movie sucked too.


Chris Burke on the TV show “Life Goes On”

chris burke

Worst performance ever……… I couldn’t even believe him for one second.

Who else do you think has given good or awful performances of the developmentally disabled?

Also do you think it is an acting break through or really a safe role?

Filed in: Pop Culture

About the author

Bobby Finstock

Finstock is founder of Pointlessbanter.net. He is known for his encyclopedia like knowledge on the life and times of Scott Baio. In the future he hopes to write again under his own name in order to impress the ladies and build his celebrity to the levels of other failed internet writers.

3 Responses to “If You Want an Oscar Play a Developmentally Disabled Person”

  1. Vad says:

    I think they put themselves out there when they take on these roles. Meaning… Who wants to be remembered as the slow kid in a movie? I wouldn’t. I do see where you’re coming from with it being easier though. I thought Chris Burke was truly challenged in life… maybe you were making a joke of which I did laugh. :P

  2. Kevin says:

    Yeah it was a joke on the Chris Burke thing.

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