Cinema Sleuth: Kate Hudson and the Case of the Collapsing Career

What Happened to Kate Hudson's Career?

There are certain questions in life one puzzles over furiously. Stonehenge. The Lost Colony of Roanoke. Child-proof Packaging. Today, we examine a tricky one by asking what the hell happened to Kate Hudson’s career?

It was in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous (2000) that Penny Lane was in our ears and our eyes. Hudson gave a captivating performance as the love-struck Band-Aide, gaining a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination for the role. At this point it seemed like Hudson was ready to step out of the shadows of the celebrity family that clouded over her, having been raised by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Then for whatever reason, something went wrong. Very wrong.

Fast-forward eight years later and we see Hudson yukking it up with soon to be Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway in the painful Bride Wars. Now even the greatest talents are afforded a few critical bombs. Robert De Niro made Showtime … and a few other stinkers. Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts made a date with film disaster in The Mexican. So nobody’s perfect. However, when your single best performance is followed by nearly a decade of awful entries, then it’s time for a talk. So let’s discuss why Kate Hudson slid down instead of climbing up the hallowed halls of Hollywood.

Keeping it in the Family

It’s not up for debate whether Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have staying power in film. Both actors have been swimming in the acting pool since at least the 60s, and both have put on memorable performances (Russell particularly is close to my heart with films like The Thing). But would anyone say either is an amazing actor?Work with Matt Once, Fire Your Agent. And Shame On You Twice. Hawn won an Academy Award for Cactus Flower but isn’t known for substance so much as her looks. Russell is at his best in action films, which isn’t necessarily the highest form of art. Both have made their fair share of trash with The Out-of Towners, Poseidon and who could forget Sky High? Well, many have tried to. One can look up the fractured family tree and make a case that Hudson is perhaps just playing below the level of her parents.

Mirroring Jennifer Lopez

Some actresses aspire to be scream queens. Others stake their turf in period pieces. But Hudson seems to be leaving her legacy in the genre of romantic comedy. Why she or Jennifer Lopez, aka The Ass That Ate Chicago, chose to do so is beyond me. Both gave solid performances in their young careers before flaming out. In less than a decade Hudson has done a career’s worth of damage with films like My Best Friend’s Girl, Alex & Emma, You, Me and Dupree that are below her talent level. Sure, it’s an easy paycheck and it gives couples something to watch on dates, but Hudson has nearly focused all of her efforts on films that are as light and unsatisfying as eating a rice cake.

The Matthew McConaughey Syndrome

Sure, you have heard of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, but did anyone not on drugs watch Fool’s Gold? And did you know its working title was How to Divorce a Guy in 10 Days? There should be a Hollywood axiom when it comes to choosing co-stars that goes like this, “Act with Matthew McConaughey once, shame on the agent. Act with McConaughey twice, shame on you.” Yes, McConaughey has shown acting chops in Dazed and Confused and A Time to Kill, but Kate Hudson and McConaughey will never be mistaken for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And I bet there is a romantic comedy chock full of dance numbers Hudson and McConaughey’s agents are trying to attach them to because of that last sentence. Damn it, Kate. Don’t do it. Think about the children, Kate! Think about your future!

Eating Black Crowe

Hudson not only had a rock star romance in Almost Famous, but she brought in the blues with The Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson. Why didn’t Drew Barrymore pull Hudson aside and say, “look at me sweetheart. Seriously, look at me and see why you don’t date rock stars.” Since then Hudson has separated from Robinson, doing the Austin two-step by dating Owen Wilson before later dating cyclist Lance Armstrong. Showing up on TMZ more than awards lists is never a good thing, I don’t care what Paris Hilton tells you.

The Marisa Tomei Factor

There are critics aplenty that still shake their heads when they remember that Marisa Tomei won an Academy Award for My Cousin Vinny. Some say she found lightning in a bottle that year, and perhaps that is the case with Hudson’s performance as Waving Goodbye and Asking Why?Penny Lane. Is it a case of the right role coming along at the right time? Maybe. Where the similarities end between Tomei and Hudson is seen in their resumes. Tomei spread out her bad films (The Watcher, What Women Want) with a fair share of films with weight (In the Bedroom, Chaplin, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), and has now jumped back on the radar in a big way with The Wrestler. Hudson has stuck her feet in romantic comedy cement the past eight years, and could do well by taking a turn to the dark side in the vain of Tomei. (Somewhere a critic wants to shoot me for advising an actress to imitate Marisa Tomei. Deal with it.)

The Verdict:

We’ve sifted through acting equations like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind and given you all the variables. There is no single answer as to why Kate Hudson’s career isn’t flourishing. It instead remains a mystery, like the riddle of the Sphinx … or how they get cream filling into a Twinkie. If it is any consolation to fans of Hudson, she is still a young talent and 2009 might regain some of her sparkle in the highly anticipated Nine and Big Eyes, a drama centered around the life of painter Margaret Keane. Hopefully in the future we will look at Hudson’s career and be able to debate as to what was her most brilliant performance, instead of watching Almost Famous, sighing and asking, “what happened?”

Adam Sweeney has a background in journalism, having spent 4 years on the Lone Star Lutheran as an Opinions and Arts & Entertainment columnist. He graduated in May 2008 from Texas Lutheran University with a Dramatic Media degree and hopes to become a filmmaker/journalist/radio host/actor extraordinaire. He also writes film and play scripts and figures if Good Luck Chuck can make it to the big screen then why can't he? He can also be read at TalkHoops.net as a feature writer on all things basketball, and his personal blog covers everything from politics to why Keira Knightley is looking more like Jack Skellington every day. (www.myspace.com/theadamlee)

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