Variety reports that Yankees record home-run hitter Alex Rodriguez will be fielding a role in the new Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis movie, Friends With Benefits, about two friends who take to the sheets to cope after ending disastrous relationships. Though the plot of the film may be predictable (and also potentially disastrous-sounding), A-Rod’s unspecified role is not — just what will the tabloid’s favorite performance-enhancing baseball player be doing? We gander a few guesses based on previous athlete-cum-movie stars. Kazaam!
It may take some magic to bring out the thespian in A-Rod, and luckily, there’s no shortage of past movies in which an athlete gets mystic. In the 1996 comedy classic Kazaam, free-throw dud Shaquille O’Neal plays a genie appearing from a “magical boombox” (they mean an iPod converter, right?) to grant a boy three wishes that ultimately help him learn to stand up for himself and take charge of his life. We imagine Genie A-Rod housed in a bottle of ‘roids as he helps his two extremely attractive genie patrons through their tumultuous journey of friendly sexploits.
Arguably the best use of an athlete in a movie was in the 1996 live-action/animated Michael Jordan flick, Space Jam. The plot line paralleled Jordan’s real-life headliner at the time, his move from basketball to baseball. Rodriguez, too, has quite the tantalizing personal life from which any script could grab a plot line (remember when he dated Kate Hudson? And now, maybe, Cameron Diaz?). The extraction of current pop-culture events into fictional rom-com fluff could result in an Oscar-worthy performance of love, loss, and tabloid adventures. Hopefully Friends With Benefits will have a soundtrack as cool as Space Jam’s.
Instead of mimicking his personal life, A-Rod could just play himself straight-up. Self-refereeing tennis player John McEnroe is the king of this silver-screen athlete gimmick — starring as himself in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Mr. Deeds, Players, and Anger Management (coincidentally, of course). McEnroe’s fiery personality added spunk to many a sagging Adam Sandler comedy, and we think A-Rod could also provide the same, um, rage to the script.
We’re surprised that this plot line has yet to become a canon for athletes venturing into cinema — in 2008, Dennis Rodman, in his most recent career venture (aside from Celebrity Rehab), performed a groundbreaking role as a basketball coach of dwarfs. Of course, with the complex plot line of Friends with Benefits already at the forefront, this role would have to be part of a subplot, and we think A-Rod wants to be a star. Then again, maybe it is better if athletes play the quieter roles.
It’s all in the facial expressions, A-Rod! We’ll be anxiously awaiting your name come time for award season nominations.