Is "chewing the scenery" a good or bad thing?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by PS Nystrom, Dec 16, 2001.

  1. PS Nystrom

    PS Nystrom Second Unit

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    I've often read that so-and-so actor really 'chews' the scenery of a movie, but it seems like critics use this term for both bad and good acting. Which one is it? Is it a compliment or a put-down? Examples are Al Pacino in 'Any Given Sunday,' Anthony Hopkins in 'Hannibal,' and Jack Nicholson in 'Batman.'
     
  2. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I've always thought "chewing the scenery" referred to gross overacting, like Shatner in Star Trek or Kenneth Branagh in
    just about everything he also directs.
    I didn't think this applied to Hopkins' performance in Hannibal, so I may be wrong.
     
  3. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Chewing scenery can be bad for ones health. If the paint is lead based, look out. It can also cause peridontal disease if precautions aren't taken. Overacting is the prime cause of this aliment, actually

    .:b
     
  4. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  5. Ryan Spaight

    Ryan Spaight Supporting Actor

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    In the main, it's not a good thing, but from time to time I've seen it used for a lively performance in an otherwise relentlessly dull film. ("The only thing that kept me awake during this one was Jack Black's gleeful scenery chewing.")

    Still not exactly a compliment...

    Ryan
     
  6. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    It's definitely not a compliment, but it can often be quite entertaining. Case in point: nearly everything Vincent Price ever did. Much of it is wildly over the top, but I enjoy the hell out of it.
     
  7. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    How did that term get created? I mean, "chewing the scenery"!?!? I can't even think of how that originated.
     
  8. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    [GratuitousFakeHomerSimpsonQuote]

    Mmmm... scenery

    [/GratuitousFakeHomerSimpsonQuote]
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  10. Bill Buklis

    Bill Buklis Supporting Actor

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    Chewing the scenery? Is that good? It may be good for the dog.

    This is a new one. I've never heard this term before.
     
  11. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    I agree it usually isn't complementary to the actor in question, but I've seen it attributed to some good acting.

    In general, I think it refers to a manic, over-the-top performance that dominates the other actors' performances.

    Rob
     

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