Critics, Can We Declare A Moratorium On This One?
Spotted in a review of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer:
"Jessica Alba...still can't act her way out of a paper bag"
Now, I haven't seen Silver Surfer, and I'm not debating Ms. Alba talents as a thespian. Regardless: this phrase needs to be retired. It makes no sense. Who acts inside a paper bag? Who wears a paper bag at all? How could acting, even under optimal circumstances, help in the removal of a paper bag? If you put, say, Laurence Olivier inside a bag, would he have been capable of acting his way out of it? The way I see it vigorous physical activity could remove all but the most carefully lodged paper bag. And you don't need to be a great actor to perform vigorous physical activity. Jean-Claude Van Damme, therefore, could probably "act" his way out of a paper bag better than Ms. Alba, but should we hold that against her?
I have no idea where this phrase began, but here's where it ends. Therefore, "acting his/her way out of a paper bag" is now officially banned from criticism. You're all on notice. The only way this phrase is ever permissible again is if someone physically wears a bag on their head, and then, through sheer force of acting will, removes it. Otherwise, just say they can't act, okay?