With the release of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on DVD and Blu-Ray, Jay Baruchel joins the (kinda sorta) elite group of actors with three or more titles in the redbox kiosks: Sorcerer’s Apprentice, How to Train Your Dragon, and She’s Out of My League.
I’ve enjoyed Mr. Baruchel’s work for a decade, but if in 2010 you’re saying, “Who the heck is this scrawy guy who looks like a geeky Montgomery Cliff and why is he suddenly in every movie?” then allow me to bring you up to speed.
Almost Famous (2000)
In his first major film appearance, Baruchel is Vic Munoz, aka the Crazy Led Zeppelin Fanatic in the Riot House hotel scene.
Vic: “I saw them on the 7th floor. Mr. Jimmy Page, Mr. John Paul Jones, Mr. Robert Plant. Mr. Robert Plant signed my T-shirt five minutes ago. Please don’t smear it. Oh, gee, no, please don’t… Please don’t smear it. But five minutes ago, he touched this pen.”
Creator Judd Apatow’s criminally under-rated (and quickly cancelled) sit-com follow up to Freaks and Geeks gave Baruchel his big break, starring as Steven Karp, a geeky (duh) college freshman. (The show also featured Apatow Players such as Seth Rogen, Carla Gallo, and Jason Segel.)
After starring in several quirky indies (and a bit part in Million Dollar Baby), the rise of Apatow as a film maker gave Baruchel another shot at the limelight. Here he plays “Jay,” one of Seth Rogen’s slacker buddies and a thinly disguised version of himself. (The Canadian maple leaf tattoo he sports is real, as is Ottawa-born Baruchel’s national pride.) Big moment: his delivery room freak out.
The success of Knocked-Up put Baruchel on film makers’ comedy radar, leading to a supporting role in Ben Stiller’s Hollywood satire as Kevin Sandusky, one of the actors in the lost “fake” squad — aka The Only Sane Person in the Film.
Baruchel’s first lead role in a major release wasn’t produced by Apatow, but it certainly learned all its raunchy/sweet moves from him. As Kirk, a going-nowhere young man courting a dazzling woman, Baruchel strikes up solid rom-com sparks with co-star Alice Eve, while a cast of supporting idiots keep the R-rated laughs rolling.
Kirk: “I went out on four different dates, with three girls and that guy. I don’t know what his intentions were, but it’s fine. We had a great conversation. I think he was just looking for a friend.”
Dreamworks’ magnificent animated action-adventure comedy would have visually soared without Baruchel voicing the main character Hiccup, but it may not have had as much earnest and endearing heart.
Hiccup (Imitating his father): “‘Excuse me, barmaid! I’m afraid you brought me the wrong offspring! I ordered an extra-large boy with beefy arms, extra guts and glory on the side. This here, this is a talking fish-bone!’”
Baruchel’s biggest starring role to date puts him opposite Nicolas Cage, smack dab in the middle of budding franchise in the Pirates of the Carribbean/Harry Potter mold. The gawky, gangly actor’s self-deprecating dorkiness meshes well with Cage’s usual wry hysterics–their bickering relationship is one of the best things about the film, rising above the rest of the movie’s Big-Action clamor and chaos.
Balthazar (Cage): “This is the Merlin Circle. It focuses your energy. Helps you master new spells. It is where you will learn the Art. Step inside, you leave everything else behind. Once you enter, there is no going back.”
Dave (Baruchel): “So I should probably pee first?”