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Could Channing Tatum be the next Patrick Swayze?

0 Comments 10 September 2014

Here at The Shade we ask the hard questions. How are the film careers of Channing Tatum and Patrick Swayze similar? How are they different? To the career trajectories mirror each other at all. If I was Tatum’s agent how could I advise him? Where are my Sour Patch Kids?

I think the Swayze/Tatum comparison really holds a lot of value, and a movie-by-movie breakdown would show many similarities between the two. Lets compare the following movies:

  • Swayze – Outsiders, Red Dawn, Youngblood, Dirty Dancing, Steel Dawn, Next of Kin, Roadhouse, Ghost, Point Break, Father Hood, Donnie Darko
  • Tatum – Stop-Loss, Fighting, GI-Joe, The Eagle, The Vow, 21 Jump Street, Magic Mike, Side Effects, Step up.

Both actors were in brat pack type movies with Outsiders/Red Dawn and Stop-Loss. Both were great dancers…which, let’s face it, people LOVE a great dancer. Look at Sir Lawrence Olivier and, later, Pee Wee Herman.

The difference is that Outsiders and Red Dawn established Swayze as a leading man, Tatum hasn’t strung together roles that have done this. Stop-Loss, a small release MTV Films movie, only introduced Tatum (great movie, and great cast though).

Both actors can throw fists, and have legit action chops. Swayze’s Roadhouse is an eternal classic, Next of Kin, and Point Break are fantastic – practically immortal. While Fighting can never be put on the same level, Tatum was a very passable brawler-with-a-heart-of-gold in it. GI-Joe was a summer blockbuster failure, but Tatum was good as Duke.

Both actors took chances in crappy movies that were outside their usual genres. Swayze had Steel Dawn, a post apocalyptic shitfest. Tatum had The Eagle, a piss-poor historical fiction piece in which he plays a Roman legionnaire. Laughable.

Both actors were in crappy rom-coms: Father Hood for Swayze. The Vow for Tatum. Let’s face it, sadly at this point rom coms are a right of passage for any leading man in Hollywood that has his sights on something bigger. I don’t like it. You don’t like it, but it’s a reality. Lets acknowledge and move on.

Both actors refused to get cast as rom-com guys, and took serious roles: Donnie Darko for Swayze. Side Effects for Tatum.

Both actors played a stripper: Swayze on SNL with Chris Farley, Tatum in Magic Mike (okay, that was a stretch) but still conjures up good memories. And stop it, I know what you’re thinking.

But that’s about where the similarities end. Swayze had more transcendent movies that captured the attention of the public, old and young alike. His movies practically defined that generation. Iconic. Ghost and Dirty Dancing particularly made Swayze a cultural phenomenon. Tatum isn’t there yet, and may never be. I’m not sure that’s due to the quality of the movies he’s appeared in, or whether he doesn’t have the same acting chops as Swayze, but that remains to be seen. We are evaluating Swayze’s entire career which is unfair to Tatum. Swayze didn’t do Dirty Dancing until he was 35, Road House at 37 and Point Break at 39. Tatum is currently 34. So while Tatum has a few years to play with, any actor worth a damn would sell his/her soul to the devil to have a run of films as epic as Swayze had from 35-40.

Tatum may forever be looked at as a meathead because he was, at one point, an Abercrombie model. And a stripper. He may never shake that stigma. But Jonah Hill seems to have shaken his fat kid in a comedy stigma with a few Oscar nods no? Listen, I don’t like Jonah Hill any more than you do but facts are facts. Unless their not. In which case who cares.

Back on track.

Tatum seems like a guy who walked out of a frat and into the movies, whereas Swayze always had an intelligent gleam in his eye. However, Tatum is underrated and young. His performances are much more nuanced than people give him credit for, and he has a lot more emotional range than you’d like to think (see Magic Mike). Also, he is much funnier than Swayze (21 Jump Street was funnier than anything Swayze ever did).

Tatum could stand to get a sports movie under his belt, a la Youngblood for Swayze. But mostly what he needs is that movie that makes the world fall in love with him the way it fell in love with Swayze. When that happens, we’ll revisit this conversation again in a whole new light.

Questions, comments/concerns please let us know at getintotheshade@gmail.com. We’d love to not hear from you.

- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.


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