“The Watch” — a film that brings together Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn for the fifth time onscreen — opens today to reviews that are not exactly stellar.
Its score on Rotten Tomatoes currently stands at a dismal 13%-positive, although The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday found a few nice things to say in her two-star review. “Vaughn and Hill find a particularly amusing rhythm, with Hill’s sotto voce patter providing a well-timed accompaniment to Vaughn’s soaring, motor-mouthed arias,” she writes of Vaughn and co-star Jonah Hill. She then parenthetically says of Vaughn: “Never has an actor mined such comic gold from a Russian nesting doll.”
It’s a reminder that, yes, Vaughn is capable of comedic gold, even though lately it may not seem like it; The last Vaughn film that won universal critical praise and featured him in an above-the-marquee role was 2005’s “Wedding Crashers.”
But despite that fact and the negative critical assessments of “The Watch,” I remain a Vince Vaughn fan. Which is why I have devoted today’s Friday List to the 10 best things Vaughn has done in his career so far. No, “Dodgeball” isn’t on it. Feel free to take up that issue — or any other Vaughn-related matters — by posting a comment after you peruse this list.
10. His appearance in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”
His role was small, but the epic street fight Vaughn started between rival San Diego news crews will be remembered forever.
9. His sports fandom
Okay, technically, his love of sports is a personal matter. But he puts it on display so publicly that it’s become part of the Vaughn persona. If you need someone to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at a Chicago Cubs game, he’s your guy. And if you’re a goalie for the Vancouver Canucks who allows the Chicago Blackhawks to win a decisive victory, Vince Vaughn will happily taunt you from his front row seat behind the glass. In fact, he will have no qualms about doing so.
8. This clip from “Dinner for Five”
I wish Jon Favreau still had the time in his busy schedule to host this show in which various show business friends got together, ate, drank wine and allegedly talked about film but sometimes got off on tangents that had nothing to do with anything. One of the best tangents: when Vaughn put Rory Cochrane, Slater from “Dazed and Confused,” under rigorous questioning about his years of pre-acting struggle, to the point where Brian Cox had to tell him to ease up. Warning: There’s some NSFW language in this clip.
7. He played a small role in “Into the Wild.”
Vaughn has played more dramatic roles before, in films like “Return to Paradise,” “The Cell” and the much-derided remake of “Psycho.” But in 2007, when Vaughn was skating through big-studio comedy after big-studio comedy, it was a pleasant surprise to see him in a more serious film, even though as a guy giving drunken advice to Emile Hirsch, he was still kind of funny. (Note: Again, a touch of NSFW language is in this clip.)
6. He was Jennifer Aniston’s post-Brad Pitt boyfriend.
Ah, remember the days when the celebrity magazine circuit fed us story after story about the Aniston-Vaughn relationship, which eventually resulted in a mediocre movie called “The Break-Up” and an actual break-up? Of course, both moved on; Vaughn is now a happily married father, and Aniston is with Justin Theroux. But as Aniston relationships go, the Vaughn one was pretty cute and certainly a much better way to recover from her divorce than by dating John Mayer, which she did post-Vaughn.
5. He participated in the “We Are the World” remake
When numerous popular recording artists gathered in 2010 to re-record “We Are the World” as a benefit for the victims of the Haiti earthquakes, Vince Vaughn was there. Why was Vince Vaughn there? That’s what NPR asked at the time. Cultural historians are still searching for answers. But we know this much: It’s laudable that Vaughn wanted to contribute to a charitable event. And by showing up, he made sure that the new “We Are the World” would have the equivalent of the original’s Dan Aykroyd.
4. “Wedding Crashers”
“Wedding Crashers” is only No. 4, you say? Look, Vaughn was undeniably great in it, especially in his scenes with the cuckoo-nutty Isla Fisher. But three achievements still rank higher.
3. Guest hosting “The Late Show With David Letterman”
In 2003, when Letterman had to take a month off to recover from shingles, a cadre of famous people filled in as guest host, including John McEnroe, Will Ferrell, Whoopi Goldberg and Elvis Costello. But Vaughn was the best of the lot, more immediately comfortable jibber-jabbering with Rosie Perez than some talk show hosts who have been doing this for decades. If the movie thing doesn’t work out, this is clearly his calling. Please enjoy the clip, which comes with handy Italian subtitles.
2. “Old School”
Ferrell’s Frank the Tank may have been the attention-getting streaker in this comedy. But it was Vaughn’s Beanie who gave parents everywhere the catch phrase they now use on a daily basis: “Ear muff it for me.”
Yes, after all these years — 16, to be exact — Vaughn’s best role remains his so on-the-money portrayal of Trent Walker. Is he just playing himself, something he has kinda sorta done in multiple roles since? Maybe. But he’s so entertaining, honestly, who cares? (Yes, there are a couple of NSFW words sprinkled in this one, too.)