In Praise (and Derision) of… Cameron Diaz

Watching Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher recently brought back what a likeable actress she is. While she may not possess the acting chops of a veteran such as Meryl Streep, Diaz certainly has a flair for comedy. She has an understated appeal; although comedy is the genre Diaz is most often associated with, she is not particularly seen as one of luminaries of the genre. Below are some of her memorable performances, though perhaps not the most obvious ones…

Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz is immense fun as foul-mouthed Elizabeth in Bad Teacher. Much of the film’s humour is crass, but she handles this deftly. She never becomes overly masculine, despite the crudeness of her character. Diaz is responsible for many of the film’s laughs, and delivers a great performance overall.

Knight and Day

Although Knight and Day was not an excellent film, it definitely benefited from having Diaz as one of the protagonists. She has great chemistry with Tom Cruise, which makes the film far more enjoyable than it would have been. Her character June is rather ditzy, a trait that Diaz plays exceptionally well.

A Life Less Ordinary

Not one of Cameron Diaz’s most memorable films, 1997’s A Life Less Ordinary again benefited from her onscreen chemistry, this time with Ewan McGregor. An unconventional love story between a kidnapper and his victim that included the meddling of angels, Diaz’s Celine oozes attitude but manages to exude genuine emotion as well.

Gangs of New York

The derision of Cameron Diaz in  can be simply summed up by the following: her accent in Gangs of New York.  Her part-Irish, part-American accent is distractingly bad. So much so, it detracts from an otherwise decent performance. There are other dubious accents in Martin Scorsese’s film, but sadly Diaz’s inflections are in a league of their own.