Is James Franco Worth The Hype? | Pro

L. Stewart

Tamar McCollom, Staff Writer

In a decade, James Franco has gone from being “the cute one” on the cult classic “Freaks and Geeks” to the newest incarnation of the Renaissance man. By now, everyone has heard the infamous stories. He graduated from

UCLA after taking over three times the maximum course limit a quarter. He simultaneously attended Columbia University, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Brooklyn College, and Warren Wilson College, only to decide to go to Yale for his Ph.D.  Franco guest-starred on “General Hospital” purely for kicks and giggles, but then went on to rack up an Oscar nomination. Oh yeah, and somewhere in there he wrote a book.

Anyone who questions whether or not James Franco is overrated is ridiculous. Only a genius or some sort of supernatural being could juggle that many extracurriculars.

If anyone lives by the mantra “go big or go home,” it’s Franco. He has quite literally given every art form conceivable the “old college try,” pun totally intended. But what separates Franco from all the other pretentious, hyperactive dilettantes is that he tackles  everything with honesty and sincerity.

On “General Hospital”, as a psychopathic artist ironically named Franco, he turns up the soap opera sleaze so far that if it weren’t for his signature grin you could almost forget that he has a rather successful career outside of daytime television. After playing gay men in two films, Milk and Howl, Franco has many convinced that he is actually gay, when in reality he has been in the same relationship with a woman (who shall henceforth be referred to as Public Enemy #1) for over five years.

So, it isn’t surprising that when Franco went shopping for his Oscar role, he picked a toughie, and it’s even less surprising that he pulled it off. 127 Hours, the film for which Franco scored a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination, had the potential to be excruciatingly boring. He spends quite literally the entire film on his own, stuck in the same stationary position. However, Franco overcomes a lack of kinetic movement with an introspective performance that avoids the overacting usually associated with existential crises.  He’s authentic, earnest even, which frankly, is an exceedingly rare combination.

Even if by some odd chance Franco has fooled us all with some sort of quasi-Joaquin Phoenix act, it doesn’t make him any less impressive. Simply pretending to be that wildly talented requires actual talent. James Franco should win an Oscar just for playing the role of James Franco.

And let’s just come out and say it, purely for posterity’s sake, of course. James Franco is really, really hot.