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How to Mount a Comeback

Keaton. Keanu. Weezer. LaBeouf?

  • 24 October 2014

Michael Keaton is back.

And so is Weezer, oddly.

And Keanu.

And, like, Shia LaBeouf.

They’ve all made comebacks lately. And we love them for it. It’s the great second act. A chance at redemption. 

But the comeback is also a curious thing. It requires an alchemy of several factors, not all of which the comebackee can control.

Keaton: he can thank his own skill, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and the age-old tactic of self-parody. America likes humble pie.

LaBeouf: a good movie and a solid appearance on a talk show works every time. 

Anyway, we spent an unconscionable amount of time reviewing recent comebackees and charting how and why they’ve returned.

Here’s what we found:

And your comebacks:

The former Batman had his last major starring role in 1995’s Multiplicity.

The comeback: In Birdman, Keaton is commenting on his own career arc: a talented but fading leading man brought back into the spotlight. Hollywood loves recognizing itself! Expect to see a reimagined Keaton vying for every elder statesman role. And nab an Oscar nom.

 


Once-revered alt-rockers, reduced to nostalgia-act status. They even had a Weezer Cruise.

The comeback: Twenty years removed from “Buddy Holly,” Weezer reunites with their original producer (Ric Ocasek), apologizes on their new single (“Sorry guys; I didn't realize that I needed you so much”) and produces a worthy new album (Everything Will Be Alright in the End).

 


Former boxing champ. Then: ear biting, assault, jail time and bankruptcy.

The comeback: Going on five years now, thanks to his cameo in The Hangover, a critically acclaimed one-man show and, starting next week, an Adult Swim cartoon romp called Mike Tyson Mysteries.

 

Theodore “Ted” Logan. Action film star (Speed, The Matrix). Followed by years of unseen indie films, documentaries and a couple of “meh” kung fu flicks.

The comeback: Reeves pulls a Liam Neeson in this week’s John Wick, a former badass turned recluse turned badass once again. He still does no-emotion-stoic well.

 

The director’s been quiet over the last decade, releasing just one film (Inland Empire) while dabbling in ad work, music and transcendental meditation.

The comeback: A hilarious three-episode arc on Louie. Police dramas The Killing and True Detective inspiring comparisons to Twin Peaks. Inevitable return of Twin Peaks announced, 25 years after its demise.

 

The mercurial actor went from indie acclaim to mainstream success to bankruptcy to a willingness to star in anything. Like, anything.

The comeback: When you hit rock bottom (Left Behind), there’s no where to go but up. Right? Oh, and volume! Six upcoming films should help.

 

Once, the former kid star was tabbed as the next Indiana Jones. Then came the arrests and self-loathing art projects.

The comeback: Go indie (Nymphomaniac). Go crowd-pleaser (Fury). Then tell a fantastic drunken tale on Kimmel.

 

The rubber-faced comedian’s last great flick? 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The comeback: Dance with the one that brung ya. The critic-proof Dumb and Dumber To, out next month, timed 20 years to the last time Carrey made us laugh.

 

Thanks to reruns (and soon Netflix), the sitcom’s still a major cultural presence ten years after its finale. As for the cast …

The comeback: Transform into the sexy R-rated role player (Aniston in Horrible Bosses 2, We’re the Millers). Meta-comment on your failures (LeBlanc in Episodes, Kudrow in The Comeback). Do more sitcoms (Cox, Perry). Your move, David Schwimmer.

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