If James Corden doesn’t even want to watch his own movies, then why should we have to endure them?

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Photo by Andy Thornley

“Comedian James Corden arrives at Number 10 Downing Street to interview Prime Minister David Cameron” by nottheviewsofmyemployer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Written By Erin Yudt, Shannon Marinari, and Julianne Bailey

James Corden is, unfortunately, a talk show host, comedian, producer, and musical actor(?). In a day and age where movie adaptations of musicals reign, Corden has essentially taken over the cinema industry—but why? Sure, he has had experience in musicals and TV shows since debuting on screen in 1999, but he should have stuck closer to his first role, which delivered a single line.

Corden has a strange grasp on the musical industry, starring in not one, not two, but three major Broadway-musical-to-movie adaptations. Is it because he has a talk show? Is it because he is a producer? It is certainly not because he has talent. Let’s break down his mediocre-at-best performances and why he has brought disgrace to the magic of musicals.

“Into the Woods” (2014) – In case you’ve missed it, “Into the Woods” was a Broadway show that opened in 1986. The show twists multiple storybook characters together in one story.

The movie adaptation of the Broadway show was made in 2014 and stars numerous big names: Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, and even Corden. The movie itself did not quite live up to the Broadway show that inspired it, but let’s talk about one character in particular.

Corden plays the Baker, who very well could be the character whose story holds the entire movie together. The Baker and his wife are cursed by a witch to never have children, so when the Witch played by Meryl Streep offers to break the curse, they take it, and the couple continues to play major roles in the film. That is all well and good, but there could have been a much better casting choice than Corden.

Corden has a history of acting, but he should have stayed in the realm of side characters with minimal lines. Corden’s acting is very bland, not showing much emotion in any scenes, as if he is not sure how he’s supposed to feel. His acting seems to be pulled from other actors, like he’s taking cues from the other actors in the scenes with him.

Alongside his role as the Baker, Corden is also the narrator for the movie, and at no point during the movie does his voice-over change. He sounds very much like a talk show host, which is fine, but sometimes emotions help portray the seriousness of a situation.

There is also something to say about the lack of expression on his face. In scenes where the Baker is scared or nervous, Corden’s face is void of that emotion, and in scenes where the Baker is angry or annoyed, the acting Corden portrays does not show this.

“Cats” (2019) – If you’ve been living under a rock, “Cats” was essentially a dumpster fire. The movie adaptation of the musical struck the eyes of viewers in 2019 and has not left their nightmares since, not just because of the eerie CGI cat-human hybrids, but also because of Corden. Corden portrays Bustopher Jones, a black and white tuxedo cat who is “remarkably fat” and has a feature song, barely appearing in the rest of the musical. While Corden appears to be a nice fit for this character, his performance is absolutely abysmal.

First, his voice. When singing, you should not be able to hear much of an accent, but Corden’s English accent is clearer than Fiji water. His whole presence in the film is also centered around his weight and him trying to prove that he is above everyone, which is basically every character that he has ever played.

He delivers a whole monologue in the middle of his song calling out a cat that tries to launch him up into a garbage can, repeatedly saying that the cats are stupid for thinking that one cat would be enough to launch him and ending with a countoff for the song to begin again.

Furthermore, his facial expression range is about as wide as the diameter of a penny. He even struggles with falling over, emphasizing more of his voice than the movement itself. How can one mess up falling? He also has a strange walk, trying to almost mimic tip toeing by putting his arms out and curving his wrists up.

Corden also stated in an interview with the New Yorker that he cannot “imagine” that he will see “Cats,” questioning if he would only enjoy his work if it was successful. So if Corden doesn’t even want to watch his own work, then why should we?

“The Prom” (2020) – “The Prom” is a movie starring Meryl Streep, Corden, Andrew Rannells, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Nicole Kidman, Ariana DeBose, and Jo Ellen Pellman. The movie follows a group of Broadway actors trying to repair their image because they’ve been painted as raging narcissists. They go to help a lesbian in a small town in Indiana who was denied entry to the school prom because she wanted to take her girlfriend to it.

Corden’s accent, or lack thereof, during the entire show is very off-putting. In the opening, his singing is so outdone by Streep’s that it’s sad for him.

The acting and dancing on his part are lackluster compared to other actors, especially Streep and Rannells. His delivery on lines in the movie don’t come across right, like he doesn’t know what they’re supposed to sound like. Some of the scenes in the movie read like he’s a talk show host, which he is, but he’s supposed to be acting, not being a talk show host.

His facial expressions also aren’t exaggerated enough as they are when you’re supposed to be acting. Movies aren’t the same as musicals, but the point still stands. People watch movies for entertainment, and your face should say a lot/add more to the story.

Cordrn’s character, named Barry Glickman, is openly gay in the film, and Corden makes it a point to be flamboyant, promoting a stereotype that really hurts representation for gay men in the media. Everyone who plays a gay character in the movie and the original musical were gay or queer themselves with the exception of Corden. He should not have been offered the role, which should have gone to someone who was gay or queer. Our biggest complaint with his portrayal of Glickman is the fact that he cannot relate to the struggle of being gay and having your parents potentially getting upset at you for just existing as you are.

Corden’s grasp on the musical-to-movie adaptation ‘industry’ should be released. His performances exude displays of minimal talent and effort. Needless to say, roles in musical movies should be left to the Broadway professionals, exhibiting the true art of musicals.