Michael Scott Ruins Everything

Can we all agree that Steve Carell is a national treasure? I mean, come on. As Gru (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2) he showed us how lovable a tried and true villain can be. Sure, it was just his voice layered with a heavy accent, but the way he puts warmth into such a callous character was something only he could do. I adored him as Hammy, the hyperactive, cookie-addicted squirrel in Over the Hedge. Have you seen that one? If not, don’t feel bad. Not many people did. But – you should. If only for Hammy’s energy drink fueled antics.

Another movie of his that maybe didn’t get the biggest audience was Bewitched, in which he played the Uncle Arthur character. I remember the Paul Lynde performance from back in the day and trust me; Carell filled his shoes to perfection. Then there’s his turn as the naïve celibate with a heart of gold in The 40 Year Old Virgin. I won’t lie. There were a couple of gut-wrenching moments in that raunchy comedy that really made me feel his pain…both physically and emotionally. The scene where he has the heart-to-heart with his girlfriend’s daughter about being a virgin. The fact that he would put himself on the line like that for her. How devastatingly heartwarming. And Carell pulled it off without being sappy. We won’t even talk about his…umm…waxing.

But then everything changed.

My daughter, bless her heart, introduced me to The Office. She introduced me to. . . Michael Scott. Yes, I now know this was the role that allowed all those other roles to happen, but there’s no rule saying I need to watch anyone’s career arc in chronological order. Sheesh.

So I was pretty late in the game getting to know Michael Scott. He came pre-Gru, pre-Hammy, pre-Uncle Arthur. The point being that I already had a sound yet varied base for my pre-conceived notions on what Steve Carell could do as an actor. He could transition from one role to another keeping his distinct signature, but also inhabiting the character enough where I could lose myself in the plot.

Then Michael Freakin’ Scott, Regional Manager of Dunder-Mifflin’s Scranton Sales Branch on NBC’s The Office appeared and quickly obliterated everything I thought I knew about Mr. Carell. It’s a testament to his acting ability to say that I am now totally disillusioned by that character for the rest of my life. He did such a good job with portraying the self-centered, insecure, incompetent, big-hearted, crybaby Michael Scott that I just can’t look at him the same way anymore.

Hell, as it stands I can barely get through an episode of The Office for reasons that have everything and nothing to do with Steve Carell’s magnificent acting. I feel the embarrassment and awkwardness of the employees so keenly. Yes, they’re fictitious characters and it’s all just actors reading a script they memorized; a script that was designed specifically for the purpose of making me feel uncomfortable. But even knowing all that, it makes me cringe. Now, on top of that general unease, now I see Michael Scott in everything Steve Carell does.

It’s both a blessing and a curse that an actor knocks a role so far out of the park that there’s no coming back. But congratulations Mr. Carell on what you accomplished with Michael Scott. It’s not often that someone does too good of a job.



Seriously, Who Doesn’t Want Minions??

Have you ever seen the Despicable Me movies? If you haven’t they’re pretty much about a curmudgeonly villain (voiced by Steve Carrell) whose ice cold heart is slowly melted by the presence of kids that are put in his care. None of that is terribly important. Cartoon movies always have some sort of moral like that in them. They have to, because let’s face it; media is how we shape our youth when we don’t have the energy to do it ourselves.

Anyway, the great part of these Despicable movies is that the villain, Gru, has a huge lab where he plans all of his world dominating high jinx and to help him out are these tiny overall-wearing helpers called “minions.”  They look like oversized pain pills with arms and legs and they’re dumb as rocks.  Even so, they’re just as cute as can be.  Listening to them speak or sing never fails to make me smile.  And more importantly, they help with all the crap that Gru simply doesn’t have time to bother with.

How awesome would it be to have our own personal minions!? Just a little team of followers that carries your purse when it’s heavy or runs to the grocery store for a bag of flour or deposits those check you can’t get around to.  They’d also be your biggest fans (much like in the movie).  And who can’t use fans?? They’d give you a standing ovation every time you come home from work feeling haggard and underappreciated. They’d tell you you’re a genius when everyone else thinks your ideas stink. Minion #1 would hand you a steaming mug of hot chocolate right after Minion #2 has helped ease you onto the couch for your nightly foot massage by Minion #3.

Yes, of course that would be great. Who wouldn’t want their own personal assistants that make the load a little bit lighter? And hell, let’s not candy coat the reality…it’d be the greatest excuse to be downright lazy.

I like thinking of the next level, though. If I had a staff of minions I’d want them armed and dangerous. Not real-life dangerous; cartoon level dangerous. I’d love it if they came equipped with freeze rays and didn’t hesitate to whip it out when there’s an annoying driver in front of me.

After all, minions come decked out with all sorts of nifty gadgets like that – and they could use them to dispense swift justice to anyone I deem as a hazard to my laziness and impatience.  Lassos, extending boxing gloves a la the Acme Company, mini-catapults…those are just a few ideas for their utility belt.  Hmmm, now that I think about it, all that power might be a bit too tempting to keep in check.  I suppose I should worry about the possible corruption of my soul. Right, who am I kidding….just where the heck can I find me some of these minions!?