By Ann Silverthorn
Ever since Rachel McAdams began starring in major motion pictures, she’s enjoyed rich adventures in many locations, playing a wide spectrum of characters. She’s certainly not been typecast; she’s played the virtuous young women, the unscrupulous mistress, the mean girl, the heiress, the respected journalist, and many, many more roles. We have even more to look forward to in the near future as McAdams is rumored to be reprising her Irene Adler role in the newest Sherlock Holmes movie, due for release in 2020.
It’s a mark of a talented actor when they can make you believe in a character that seems so unlike their generally accepted true personality. In Mean Girls, McAdams plays the top antagonist in a high school to Lindsay Lohan’s sweet, innocent character. Well, at first, that is. Girls like the “Plastics” are common in most schools, and this film shows what happens when people think on their own, rather than adopting an identity based on rules imposed by a clique.
McAdams plays a character who finds herself in a managerial nightmare as a morning show producer who gets fired from one job and takes another saddled with poor ratings and a checkered past. She must wrangle the poorly behaved “talent” and raise the show’s ratings while navigating a budding romance. In Morning Glory, McAdams gets top billing, but shares the screen with veterans Harrison Ford, Jeff Goldblum, and Diane Keaton.
Flawless in her portrayal of Inez, a young woman of privilege, willingly tied to her wealthy and judgmental parents, McAdams makes the audience root for a breakup between her character and that of Owen Wilson’s. In a young person’s nightmare, the engaged younger couple accompanies the older pair on a vacation to Paris, where Wilson’s character, Gil, realizes he doesn’t quite fit into the world in which Inez is comfortable and finds himself lost and wandering through the streets of the city, discovering a link to the past there.
In this sequel to Sherlock Holmes (2009), McAdams reprises her role as Irene Adler, who develops an attraction for Holmes and loses her life for it. With her out of the way, the rest of the film revolves around the evil of Professor Moriarty, an assassin who rivals Holmes in his intelligence. Much of the movie focuses on dear Dr. Watson, a newlywed who also becomes a target of Moriarty. Meanwhile Holmes has his hands full trying to thwart assassinations and match wits with his arch enemy.
The Family Stone is one of those functional/dysfunctional family dramadies that use Christmas as a backdrop, and this one does it very well. It has all the archetypes that we either have in our own families, or have observed in others. We have the golden child, the underachiever, the untraditional, the traditional, and the opinionated Amy, played by Rachel McAdams. Add to this a serious illness and infiltration from outsiders and you have the perfect recipe for some holiday fireworks.
Isn’t it ironic that two young divorce mediators would make a hobby out of crashing weddings? You’d think this might be by design, to provide a pipeline for future business. In reality, it’s just a game in which they crash wedding receptions and identify lovely guests for their attentions in between the dancing and garter tossing. Usually, the “romantic” aspect of these adventures is a cake walk, but when they crash the nuptials of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s daughter, there’s a snag. Claire (McAdams), the target of John’s (Owen Wilson) affection, already has a boyfriend and is not interested in changing boyfriends, even though her one is a scoundrel.
If you like the kind of movie that twists your mind into a pretzel, you’ll want to rent The Time Traveler’s Wife. And who says librarians lead boring lives? Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) certainly leads a life of adventure and peril as he travels involuntarily through time. This causes hardship, confusion, and sorrow for the woman he loves, Clare (McAdams). She becomes his wife and must put up with his comings and goings as she suffers heartbreak due to the fact that time travel threatens their ability to start a family.
In State of Play, McAdams plays Della, a sharp journalist and blogger in a political thriller set against the backdrop of Georgetown, in Washington, DC. The plot involves bribery to protect reputations, investigations into suspicious deaths, and the attempt to privatize Homeland Security. The star-studded cast includes Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Jeff Daniels, and Jason Bateman.
Based on the best-selling Nicholas Sparks novel, The Notebook, set in the 1940s, is a timeless tale of class differences. McAdams plays a virtuous heiress named Allie, who meets and falls in love with a poor laborer, Noah (Ryan Gosling), at a carnival. When Allie’s parents find out about this less-than-ideal match, they ban the union, and her mother intercepts the letters Noah writes to Allie for an entire year. This is one of those “what could have been” tragedies, much loved by both the younger and more-mature generations over the years.
The most-rented movie starring Rachel McAdams is Sherlock Holmes. Set in 1890, McAdams is Irene Adler, a former adversary to Holmes, who now needs his help to find a missing man. Much of the film involves trying to foil the villainous Blackwood, who seems to have defied death. Based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detective series, the film features an interesting story, strong action scenes (including the partially built Tower Bridge in London), and it was nominated for two Academy Awards.