His new show Kevin Can Wait is about to reached screens the coming week and his everyman schtick has divided opinion. Two Guardian writers argue the case
The case for: He dedicates a masterclass in screen acting
Before I begin, let me say this. The trailer for Kevin Can Wait, Jamess new sitcom for CBS, seems nasty. The script is lazy, and the chemistry between him and Erinn Hayes is nonexistent. Equally, if you detest him on the big screen, I can sympathize. Whether hes playing the irritating Paul Blart in Mall Cop or Adam Sandlers aw shucks sidekick, I get it. Hes not your cup of tea. But hear me out: Kevin James is hilarious, you only need to excavate a little deeper.
Jamess career began in improv and standup, when after making appearances in Star Search and Jay Leno; his big break came in 1996 at the Just for Laughs Montreal slapstick festival . It was then when Ray Romano devoted him a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond, which led him to create his greatest character, Doug Heffernan. The King Of Queens, to this day, remains my favorite network sitcom of all time and I watch it every single day. When the pilot was aired in 1998, Variety was less than kind : Fat guys with big mouths are back in primetime, said TV critic Ray Richmond. He called it The Honeymooners minus the charm of Jackie Gleason, but once the season grew in confidence so did the writing. The reveal had a ridiculously talented casting that included Jerry Stiller, Patton Oswalt and Victor Williams, but its success( it lasted for nine seasons) lived and died on the chemistry between James and Leah Remini. Theres a great moment in season one where Doug and Carrie are arguing in the middle of a cello performance, and no lines are spoken and the scene is performed in complete stillnes. Its a masterclass in screen acting.
James is a fantastic physical performer, unbelievably athletic for a human of his sizing, and this is something we see throughout the reveal. Another great scene is when Doug presents Carrie how to pole dance and James effortlessly hangs in the air from the pole as if he was a Cirque du Soleil performer. Its one of the funniest scenes in the entire reveal. James, to me, remains a great comedian, blessed with great timing and screen presence. His achilles heel, however just like Chris Rock has always been catastrophic movie decisions. In King Of Queens, he had the freedom to be charmingly mischievous minus the arrogance, but once he appears on a movie screen, all that goes away as he plays 2D flatpack roles. I dont think we should blamed James for that. I only wish he would fire his administrator. LME
The case against: The cinematic works of Kevin James are strictly for the big boy run fall down set
Read more: www.theguardian.com