It can’t be an easy experience ending a successful TV show after seven seasons and then having to deal with a movie flop, all in the same month. Not that the momentum of Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” ending still doesn’t resonate positively with executives as she attempts to reignite her film career. But the movie flop “Admission” must have been seen from the get-go as a mild effort, considering it’s a challenge today to wring Fey-like comedy out of a story that deals with college.
Considering Ron Howard and Brian Grazer were two of the production names attached to “Admission”, it should have been a hit. Fans of Fey, however, probably didn’t expect to see a romantic element to the plot, especially one that’s so standard. Most people also expect Fey to be in much more zany and cynical comedies, which may explain why she reportedly wants a role in “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” as well as working with Steve Carell again.
Regardless, can that brand of her comedy survive the movies? So far, both of the above are only rumors and not definite. The only other movie project that’s definite for Fey is appearing in 2014’s “The Muppets…Again!” sequel where she’ll play a Russian labor camp officer of all things.
Then again, moving to new territory is necessary when it comes to Fey making it in movies for the long haul. Her situation isn’t unlike her much more iconic TV counterpart Mary Tyler Moore who came out of a successful sitcom to try and fit back into movies. It took Moore three years before she returned to the big screen (1980’s “Ordinary People”), and it ultimately became an award-winning success.
A couple of years earlier, Moore was dealing with her share of failures, mostly a comedy-variety TV show that was canceled early. All of it was perhaps setting a warning to future Mary Tyler Moores that you should rest for at least a year or two before attempting to re-create the success you had prior. Moore was also smart in latching onto a dramatic film as her first foray back into movies.
So should Fey sink herself into a drama in another year or two to prove her cinematic worth? Nobody thought Mary Tyler Moore could do drama so successfully until she proved otherwise with a believable performance. Fey could deftly pick a drama and end up going in the same directions Steve Carell will soon go with a drama up his sleeve.
Much of this has to be done by the element of surprise, though. In fact, Fey going from a wacky comedy with Carell to an intensely dramatic role within one year would be the whiplash the movie industry needs to see how serious she’s intending to be with her career. That’s only because the “30 Rock” comedy persona can’t really last indefinitely in film without becoming repetitive.
Of course, Fey may prefer ensembles as she nurtured in “30 Rock.” She may never fit the leading woman type for a movie and prefer a character actress career there until she retires.
Such careers may go along nicely with “30 Rock” residual checks from perpetual reruns. That is, until a re-imagined and dramatic “30 Rock” movie remake gets made in 30 years.