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Definitely famous and almost award-worthy In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: May 04, 2011

PL (2)On a recent episode of 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) joked that he made a North Korean propaganda film directed by Kim Jong-Il rather than appear in a Kate Hudson film. It was a funny joke on a show known for its irreverent take on celebrities, but like all good jokes there’s a hint of truth to it.

Of course Hudson is still a popular actress; capable of headlining any Hollywood rom-com, but this is more a question of what might have been.

How did an Oscar nominated actress who once said, “I’m not a big fan of romantic comedies,” end up with a CV littered with toxic titles like Fool’s Gold, My Best Friend’s Girl and Bride Wars?

Sure, she has a sunny smile and girl-next-door appeal, but anyone who saw her sweet and wonderful turn as Penny Lane in Almost Famous rues the day she decided to aim for the MTV Best Kiss Awards rather than Academy Awards. Surely she can do more than stand on a beach while a shirtless Matthew McConaughey runs into her open arms.

It’s not all bad news in Kate’s career, however. This weekend she is firmly rooted in rom-com land with Something Borrowed, the kind of fluffy confection she specializes in, but lately there have been signs that she’s making some effort to stretch her comfort zone.

Cinema Italiano, her exuberantly fluffy all-singing-all-dancing tribute to 1960’s pop music and style, was one of the best things about Nine, the musical version of Federico Fellini’s classic 8 ½, and The Killer Inside Me, a violent, hardboiled crime story are both steps in the right direction, but they’re baby steps.

I want to be a Kate Hudson fan. I really do. But I need convincing that she wants me to be a fan and taking the easy route isn’t going to do that. Even her old co-star Matthew McConaughey has smartened up and realized that rom-coms are a faulty foundation to build a career on. His last film, the drama The Lincoln Lawyer, earned him the best reviews and most notice of his recent career.

I’d like to see Kate stretch in that way. Watch Almost Famous again and see the heartbreaking pathos she brings to every frame of that movie.

That’s the stuff careers and legends are built on and she has the talent and the know-how to give us more of that.

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