Has Jennifer Lawrence Lost Her Mojo?

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By Sasha Gardner | 10:05 pm, December 22, 2016

The launch of the new $110 million space drama Passengers has been marred by its star Chris Pratt being accused of taking on yet another “sexist” role. Oh, and in this particular role,  he’s also accused of being “creepy”.

More on those accusations later. But what of his co-star Jennifer Lawrence? She’s still only 26, but the Hunger Games star has received the most lackluster reviews of her career for Passengers. 

J-Law has landed four Oscar nominations in the last six years, winning one for  Silver Linings Playbook in 2013. Yet given the reviews, it’s a safe bet to say she won’t be getting any awards acclaim for Passengers.

It’s not just film critics who are souring on J-Law. Her fairly recent musings for Vice magazine about the election titled, “Don’t Be Afraid, Be Loud”  had conservatives unimpressed that she was indecorously treading in the progressive footsteps of the  truly odious and fiercely political leftie Lena Dunham and hardly ingratiating her to the half of the country that voted for Donald Trump.  

A few weeks ago at the beginning of the eventful Passengers promotional tour, Lawrence got in more hot water when she told a story on a British chat show about  ‘scratchin’ her butt’ on some sacred Hawaiian rocks that ended up causing a mini-landslide.

This didn’t go down well with native Hawaiians or environmentalists who called the hapless actress “offensive,” “disrespectful,” and “inconsiderate.”

Let’s also not forget that this time last year her much-anticipated movie Joy , where she starred as self-made businesswoman Joy Mangano and which re-teamed her with Silver Linings Playbook director David O.Russell, ended up with mixed reviews, a mediocre commercial reception, and an Oscar nomination that now seems perfunctory.

So with J-Law managing to annoy the left and the right and with a new film that has alienated critics — Passengers went on release this week so it’s too premature to record a definitive commercial verdict as yet — it’s fair to ask what is going on?

Well there might be signs that J-Law is losing her mojo, but let’s not overlook that the public is more fickle than ever. They initially loved the winning combo of her beauty, undeniable acting talent, and humility. All of it was peppered with not taking herself too seriously, especially during her various trips and falls whilst at awards ceremonies. 

I actually enjoyed her role in Passengers more than reviewers. But as much as I personally love Jennifer, I fear she may be succumbing to what I call the “Ben Stiller syndrome.”

Remember when we couldn’t get enough of Ben Stiller? He was onto a winning formula too and he milked that for all it was worth with Meet the ParentsThere’s Something About Mary etc. But he milked it for a bit too long. Then, when he tried to reinvent and make a change (with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) it was too late. The public seems done with him. I don’t want to see this happen with J-Law.

As an actress myself — obviously nowhere near Jennifer’s level of fame — I understand how it can be difficult to navigate one’s career, especially when you have various agents, managers, and publicists all putting in their two cents. But I learned long ago that no one cares about your career as much as you do.

If I were in Jennifer’s still very young and hugely successful shoes I would consider very carefully what my next project was going to be. I’m sure her advisors are all there with huge dollar signs in front of their eyes, convincing her to take yet another big budget blockbuster film, like Passengers that utilizes her celebrated character brand of emotional and endearing feistiness.

But maybe now would be the time to do a role that is more offbeat. An arthouse film perhaps, along the lines of Winter’s Bone, the 2010 film that first brought her to our attention. A role that is a real stretch for her artistically and one that will probably not pay her as much but that will keep the public guessing and renew their love and even bring in a little awe.

When Oscar won 2 beautiful ladies .. #JenniferLawrence #AnneHathaway #OscarsWinners #2013 ♥♥

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As for her interview gaffes, it may be time to step back a bit and aim to be more introspective and classy. Show some restraint, J-Law. Supply some mystique. Be one step ahead of that fickle and, it’s gotta be said, bitchy public. They can be so very hard to please.

As it happens, I don’t think Chris Pratt is sexist in Passengers. The accusations stem from Pratt’s character Jim being one of five-thousand passengers on the Starship Avalon who are held in suspended animation during its 120 year journey to a new world. His pod malfunctions and he wakes up 90 years too early. Following a year of extreme loneliness, he makes a selfish decision and wakes up fellow passenger Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) thereby essentially giving her a death sentence long before they reach their destination.  Jim investigates everything he can about her  — hence the “creepy” accusation — before going through with it.

Reviewers are panning Pratt’s character for doing this but I think nearly all of us in that same situation would do the same. Creepy? Nah. Sexist? Ridiculous. What is wrong with being straight and falling in love?

Our society these days, with some people having way too much time on their hands, tends to get all uppity when a straight (white) alpha male tries to save the day. If he’d been another race, or female, or transgender, or non-binary or whatever the hell term they want to invent these days, I’m sure the film would be held in much higher esteem.

Meantime J-Law’s advisors are most likely blinded by money. But she’s got the money now, so that doesn’t need to be her primary objective.

She still has the world at her feet. Let’s see what she does with it.