Carla Gugino is pretty much the entire package. She’s drop dead gorgeous with such phenomenal acting chops that put most actors and actresses to shame. She’s a child actress (Who’s The Boss! Saved by the Bell’s precursor Good Morning, Miss Bliss! SHE WAS ON ALF! ALF!) who went right into amazing adult roles. She’s never stopped acting and whether it be opposite Nicolas Cage, Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, or even Jet Li she’s been able to act circles around legends.
There’s so many movies here to consider when coming up with a top 5 including Even Money, Watchmen, This Boy’s Life, Righteous Kill, and while San Andreas is a pretty ridiculous movie, my god it is fun to see Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino on a race against time…against WATER! This Boy’s Life alone…man…you never wanted to see De Niro die more then you wanted him to in that movie.
But this isn’t about De Niro – this is all about Carla Gugino and her best roles. Where does one even begin? For me I pretty much knew my top 4 Carla Gugino flicks but it was number five that was pretty hard to pin down.
#5 – Match
I went back and forth on this one. Carla was so amazing playing coach Cathy Rush in The Mighty Macs that it really felt like it should be in the top 5. There was also her amazing performance in a flick called Jaded that came out in the late nineties that could have made the top 5. But, ultimately, my pick came down to a film called Match.
Never heard of it? I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t. I had never heard of it until I came across it looking around on-demand one day. It had Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino, and… Matthew Lillard? The cast interested me so I clicked on and watched. I was not disappointed.
Carla plays a woman named Lisa who is married to Mike (Lillard). They are interviewing Patrick Stewart’s Tobi – an ex-dancer who is now spending his days teaching dance at Juilliard in Manhattan. Tobi has no clue that the interview was set up under false pretenses for as the interview goes on the questions, coming from Mike, become more and more personal. Finally the reason comes out – Mike believes that Tobi is his father. Mike is out for the truth and the revelation shocks both Tobi and Lisa.
As Mike enacts his plan to learn the truth behind his parentage Lisa and Tobi get to know each other where we learn about Tobi’s life and the different choices that he’s made. It isn’t always easy to choose career over family and you never know what the repercussions can be of your actions.
Everyone kicks ass in this film. Gugino, of course, kicks ass. Stewart, of course, kick ass. Matthew Lillard? I mean…the guy from Hackers? Shaggy from Scooby Doo? The idiot from She’s All That? That crappy Wing Commander movie? I mean I can go on and on about Lillard’s horrid roles but luckily this is not one of those roles. He does an amazing job here and shows quite a bit of depth.
#4 – Sin City
Carla is only a small part of a small section of the huge ambitious movie that is Sin City – the adaptation of Frank Miller’s famous comic by Miller and writer/director Robert Rodriguez. I never thought a Sin City film would be any good but besides Michael Madsen’s horrid acting in the beginning of the film Rodriguez was able to pull off the impossible and make one hell of a comic book film.
The finest part of the film is a section that stars Marv (Mickey Rourke) – perhaps the most famous character in the Sin City series. When Marv is set up for the murder of a girl named Goldie he goes out beating the crap out of everyone to find out just who the hell is out to get him. Even under all the makeup Rourke was just phenomenal as the one-man wrecking ball Marv.
As for Gugino she played Lucille, a parole officer who gets mixed up in the entire plot. It is lucky for us because Gugino brings her acting gravitas to this small but amazing role. Being a parole officer doesn’t mean that shit goes well for her and it doesn’t. Doesn’t go well for Marv either. Both are really up shit’s creek when it comes out who is all behind the madness.
Carla sans clothes in black & white is also pretty brilliant. I don’t rate this movie this high up because Carla was naked. I could really care less because it is more about the film and the performance. But if you are going to bring out the ice cream, the syrup, and the whipped cream…you might as well mention the cherry on top.
This is a role that Carla doesn’t have much screen time. I can accept that. It’s not about the time on screen. It’s about the performance. Anthony Hopkins was on screen for 16 minutes in Silence of the Lambs and the dude won Best Actor at the Academy Awards. Carla may not be Oscar worthy in her performance but she had a ton of fun.
#3 – Spy Kids
On the total opposite end of spectrum is Robert Rodriguez’s kids flick Spy Kids. While the film stars both Gugino and Antonio Banderas the film is really about “their kids.” Gugino and Banderas play Ingrid and Gregorio Cortez – former spies who fell in love, left their spy days behind, and started a family.
This being a fun kids flick Ingrid and Gregorio are kidnapped, their kids Juni (Daryl Sabara) and Carmen (Alexa Vega) find out that their parents were spies, and off they go on their own spy adventure to not only save their parents but stop a grandiose plan to kidnap children and replace them with robot versions.
Now I sort of feel bad that this movie is Carla’s #3 best movie. I kind of feel like I’m making a list of her best films in films that she’s only a part of. It doesn’t quite feel fair.
HOWEVER – Carla is just wonderful in Spy Kids. I mean it is what it is – a kid flick. But when you were a kid the coolest thing in the world would be to learn that your parents were spies and that you too could be a spy.
This movie was truly in the early days of green screen and digital effects so it is fun to see Carla up against a green screen pretending to be facing off against these weird creations that Rodriguez cooked up in his brain – including weird robots that are made up completely of thumbs.
The problem is Spy Kids is it had a great premise but I would have really have loved to seen a Ingrid and Gregorio movie that was for adults. I mean, why not? The film features Danny Trejo as Machete and he went from a character in a family friendly film to a guy who goes out and kills everyone with a machete! So I think a Carla Gugino and Antonio Banderas flick would have been outstanding. HELL it would STILL be outstanding. Rodriguez…come on…make it happen!
They cranked out 2 more Spy Kids sequels that got worse and worse (even though they did include Bill Paxton in the sequels – so points for that) and a reboot sequel that featured the Juni and Carmen grown up. But not Carla.
#2 -Son In Law
You can laugh at my #2 pick all you want…but just watch this movie and TRY to prove me wrong. Carla was in a Pauly Shore movie. There was once a time where Pauly Shore was a hot commodity. Where they kept making Pauly Shore after Pauly Shore movie. Eventually his shtick got old for audiences (even for Pauly himself) but there was one movie Pauly made that was can be considered an actual good film. That film is Son in Law.
This is actually a Disney film (under the Hollywood Pictures banner) by five (FIVE?) different writers and directed by Steve Rash – who also directed the amazing 1980’s Patrick Dempsey classic Can’t Buy Me Love. Carla plays Rebecca ‘Becca’ Warner who is a sweet South Dakota girl who grew up on the farm with her family. She may live in the sticks but she is going to college in the big city…Los Angeles to be exact.
At first she doesn’t quite adapt well to her new surroundings. But who is the one to get her through it all and find her way? Of course it is Pauly Shore – who plays Crawl, her resident adviser. He’s a great RA…if you met my RA you would have felt so, so sorry for me.
The plot of the film focuses on Becca going back home for Thanksgiving break and, feeling sorry for Crawl, brings the RA with her. The family has some pretty quick shellshock because, well, they have Pauly Shore in their living room. Her dad (My Cousin Vinny’s Lane Smith) can’t stand the lad and everyone else is sort of reluctant to give him a chance. What can you say? Pauly is a goof. But when Becca’s boyfriend decides he is going to propose (much to Becca’s horror), Crawl steps in and announces that he has already proposed to Becca. Too late dude…she’s marrying the Weasel.
The movie is pretty much about acceptance and growing up. Just because something (or someone) is different that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their own amazing qualities. Of course Crawl changes the family for the better and Becca is able to feel more comfortable in her own skin (as she had changed greatly since leaving South Dakota three months earlier).
This is a very early role for Carla but she truly knocks it right out of the park – so much so that 20+ years later when I hear her name it is usually Son in Law that I next think about. Out of all the movies and all the roles…I always bring it back to Son in Law.
While I’m at it I’ll give some props to Patrick Renna who played the kid brother in the flick. He’s so awesome…he was great in The Sandlot and he was great here in this movie. He’s still acting but he seems to pop up in commercials a lot these days. Too bad…they need to make a Sandlot reunion film…
#1 – Elektra Luxx
NOW – Elektra Luxx takes the #1 spot but I also do believe that the first film in the series, Women in Trouble, does deserve to be in the Top 5 as well. Both are high quality films that really shows Carla’s depth. Plus it really seems like she is having a ton of fun playing a porn star. The problem I had with including both films in a Top 5 is just like saying…name your Top 5 Harrison Ford movies and then you list…Blade Runner, Witness, and 3 Star Wars films. It just doesn’t feel like you get a variety. Personally I think Elektra Luxx is the better film so it takes the top spot but you can probably place Women in Trouble somewhere around 2 and 1/2 on this list if you really want to get down and dirty.
Women in Trouble was an amazing ensemble film (Sebastian Gutierrez films usually are) and saw Carla’s porn star Elektra Luxx finding out that she is pregnant. It was very much something that she was not expecting.
Elektra Luxx continues the story and has Luxx, now retired from porn, teaching a class on how to have sex like a porn star. Hey…teach what you know, right? It all goes to hell for Elektra when Cora (Marley Shelton) shows up and tells her the story of how she had sex with a rock star who ended up dying…and that man is the father of Elektra’s unborn baby (all part of the plot of Trouble). To make matters worse Elektra then makes a deal with the young girl to seduce Cora’s fiance to make up for cheating with the rock star.
And then? Then everything goes to hell.
While the film is still an ensemble flick that carries over storylines and characters from the previous film it is really Elektra’s story arc (and Gugino’s acting) that elevates this film. For a movie about a bunch of porn actors one may be expecting tons of nudity and sex. But this is not that type of film. While the characters do that for a living it is all about the characters and Gutierrez’s great dialogue that makes this film stand out.
The film was loaded with stars (mostly returning from Women in Trouble) to include Marley Shelton, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Adrianne Palicki, Malin Akerman, Julianne Moore, Timothy Olyphant, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
I can only recommend that you should watch both Women in Trouble and Elektra Luxx in one sitting. They are both just dynamite films and the only sadness you may feel is that while a third film, Women in Ecstasy, has been long gestating – the trilogy has yet to come together. One can only hope that Sebastian will some day make that happen.