Some US comedians become a laughing stock for the wrong reasons. A Hollywood wag coined the term the Chevy Chase Syndrome a few years ago to describe actors who were once famous, successful and funny, and who’d fallen spectacularly from grace.
Chevy Chase inspired that soubriquet after his hot streak of hits like Foul Play, Fletch, Caddyshack and the Vacation franchise turned cold and he became virtually unemployable. At various times in their chequered careers, the Syndrome has affected Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Mike Meyers and Dan Aykroyd.
At times, I suspect the Chase haters have outnumbered his fan base. As Entertainment Weekly observed a few years ago, “The ugly truth is that a lot of people don't love Chevy Chase. They don't even like him. You hear it in their gently damning praise, off-the-record slams, pointed non-answers, and firm no comments. This isn't really surprising, because apparently the man possesses a truly spectacular talent for pissing people off.”
In I'm Chevy Chase ...and you're not, the authorised biography by Rena Fruchter, the actor/comedian blamed the movie misfires on a sense of loyalty to friends or a simple need to make money to support his family.
Now, at the age of 65, Chevy seems to be making a comeback, albeit via independent movies and in the TV series Chuck and Community. Currently he’s in Vancouver filming Hot Tub Time Machine, a time-travel comedy for United Artists, co-starring John Cusack and Rob Corddry. Chevy plays a mysterious repairman who, along with his mates, is thrown back to a road trip in 1987.
Another upcoming film is Stay Cool, a “knowing your age” comedy directed by Michael Polish, featuring Winona Ryder, Sean Astin, Hilary Duff and Jon Cryer. The film follows a successful author (Mark Polish) who is forced to confront an unrequited high school crush (Ryder) when he returns home to deliver an address to graduating seniors.
He’ll be seen alongside Burt Reynolds, Vinnie Jones and Michael Madsen in Not Another Not Another Movie, a spoof of spoof films (isn’t that an oxymoron?) from writer-director David Murphy. Chase plays a studio head who quits his floundering company, leaving his ex-con brother (Madsen) in charge.
He also has a role in live-action movie Jack and the Beanstalk, directed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe, a make-up artist whose credits include X-Men Origins: Wolverine, My Bloody Valentine, Mission: Impossible II and Blade.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chase is also considering an offer from the Weinstein Co. to reprise his role as investigative reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher. If it happens, the new movie would see the baton passing to Fletch's journalist nephew as the semi-retired uncle advises him on his stories.
''I'd say I've done only five movies in my life that were any good,” Chase once admitted to Entertainment Weekly... so you can see why he’s keen to add some quality to his resume.