Screengrab Archive #2: Shia LaBeouf…Why?

by Andrew Osborne

(Originally posted 4/3/08)

Shia LaBeouf (whose surname, according to Babel Fish, is Spanish for “the Beouf”) has recently been spotted by millions of people in the coming attractions trailer for the awkwardly titled but hotly anticipated Indiana Jones fourquel, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, another sure-fire blockbuster hot on the heels of LaBeouf’s recent gazillion-dollar smash hit, Transformers.

Yes, by any yardstick, Shia the Beouf is clearly a certified, gold-plated movie star.

And yet, except for his comical, hard-to-spell name, he is otherwise completely uninteresting.

Sure, he seems like a nice enough fellah…I mean, hell even I managed more scandalous behavior in my early twenties than drunken Walgreen’s loitering, and I was a complete wuss.

But nice isn’t enough, not in Hollywood. Look at C. Thomas Howell. He, too, was a personable, blandly attractive star in his day, but nobody felt the need to plug him into any surefire, critic-proof blockbusters, and now the poor bastard is stuck headlining straight-to-video classics like Mutant Vampire Zombies from the ‘Hood!

So what is the Beouf’s secret? He’s not particularly funny or sexy or intense or iconic, and yet he keeps showing up in role after role, Entertainment Tonight profile after Entertainment Tonight profile. He’s been heralded as a Star In The Making and Hollywood’s Next Big Thing since at least Holes, but his success to date seems largely based on his inexplicable ability to keep getting himself cast in high concept, high profile movies where he doesn’t need to do much but slouch about looking vaguely troubled.

Does this man have an actual fan base…that is, a fan base that caused him to actually become famous in the first place?

Or did he perhaps get to appear in a bunch of movies as the result of some game show or sweepstakes, a la Survivor sweetheart Colleen Haskell’s co-starring role in The Animal?

Sadly, the riddle of LeBeouf’s continuing fame may never be solved, as each new box office success further validates his A-List stature in a self-reflexive loop of cause and effect with all the existential clarity of a Zen koan: he is a movie star because he is a movie star.

Screengrab In Exile Addendum:  Okay, to be fair, he was pretty loveable in one old Freaks & Geeks episode.  But aside from that (and after still yet more success with another Transformers movie and now Wall Street 2: Electric Boogaloo, the question remains, now more than ever…why?

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