Why Melanie Griffith Is an Expert on ‘Sh—ty, Stupid and Superficial’ Movies

Mark Deming
Movie Talk
Melanie Griffith, then and now
Melanie Griffith, then and now

Melanie Griffith has declared that most of the projects she gets offered these days are "sh--ty and stupid and superficial." A look at her career suggests she's had first hand experience with such things.

Griffith is busy promoting her latest film, the independent thriller "Dark Tourist," and in an interview with Fox News, Griffith, who turned 56 earlier this month, griped about both the quality and quality of roles offered to her these days.

"It is what I never thought would happen when I was in my 20s and 30s, hearing actresses bitch about not getting any work when they turned 50," Griffith said. "Now I understand it, it is just different. In a lot of ways, [Hollywood] a very superficial place."

A fair point, and as Griffith suggests, she's hardly the first actress to discover that the movie business isn't very good at creating worthwhile projects for mature actresses. Griffith also took some potshots at the current state of the art in the movie biz.

"In this day and age … most of the scripts are so sh--ty and stupid and superficial," Griffith said. "It's not that I get that much stuff anymore. But I do read my husband's [Antonio Banderas's] scripts and what he is offered … The movie business has changed. I don't go to the movies these days because there is nothing to see. There is not very much, some little movies, but the big movies are all cartoons and super heroes."

OK, she's not completely wrong there. At least when it comes to the big summer blockbusters, comic books and CGI-based action flicks rule the game these days, and folks looking for quieter and more thoughtful fare have to do some digging. But instead of quitting while she was ahead, Griffith kept talking.

"It is all about youth and beauty, for women anyway," Griffith said. "You just have to keep biting and pushing your way through, doing theater. I believe in just being really good and working on my craft, which is how I started in the first place. I really like that as opposed to the fame part of it."

OK, Melanie, let's go back up a little: Griffith didn't start as a stage actress. She got her foot in the door because of her mother, Tippi Hedren — a well-known actress (and a Hitchcock blonde at that). And two of Griffith's earliest films credits, "Roar" and "The Harrad Experiment," are movies that starred her mom. And yeah, that comment about doing theater ... Instead of working on the legitimate stage, Griffith was paying her bills as a model, and by all accounts she did pretty well at it, too. (She was also living with her boyfriend Don Johnson when she was just 14 years old, but that's beside the point.)

In fairness, there are some fine movies in the early portion of Melanie's resume – most notably Arthur Penn's excellent thriller "Inside Moves" and Michael Ritchie's beauty pageant satire "Smile." But there are plenty of dogs, too: That coming of age movie with Robbie Benson, "One on One"? The comedy about parking lot attendants, "Underground Aces"? The made-for-TV "Private Benjamin" knockoff "She's In The Army Now"? Or that recurring role on the deservedly short-lived sitcom "Carter Country"? Not exactly stuff Griffith wants in her highlight reel.

And as for Hollywood being all about youth and beauty, Griffith certainly worked that game to her advantage. She wasn't at all shy about baring all in early movies like "Joyride" and "The Garden" – and also in her breakthrough roles in "Body Double" and "Something Wild," for that matter.

Mel, you've also been in some truly great films: "Working Girl"! "Stormy Monday"! "Nobody's Fool"! Take a bow for those, Ms. Griffith!

But let's be honest, she has been making bad career choices for a while. "Milk Money," the one where she played a hooker who gets hired by a bunch of kids who want to see a naked lady? That crummy remake of "Born Yesterday" with Don Johnson? (No married couple has ever shown less romantic chemistry on screen)? "Two Much," the disaster where Griffith and Daryl Hannah are both fighting for Antonio Banderas's affections? (Mel, you should know by now never to make a movie with your significant other, it just doesn’t work out.)

I could go on, but we all get the point. Someone who has had a career as hit and miss as Griffith's doesn't have much place complaining about the quality of the work they're being offered.

Oh, and when you want to talk about doing more television work because the writing is better, you might NOT want to cite appearing on "Hawaii Five-0." You are not helping your own case.

Don't get us wrong, Melanie. We love you, and we think you still have some good work left in you. But before you start blaming Hollywood for your career woes, maybe you should take a long look at your own history. And then think about getting a new agent.

P.S.: Loved you in "Cecil B. DeMented." Try giving John Waters a call.